So last Thursday night saw the second leg of our Knockout Cup semi-final versus the Newcastle Vipers. This was going to be a tight game despite the 4-1 lead the Phoenix had from the first leg. As anyone who is into hockey will know, it only takes a couple of seconds to score! As happened in Thursdays second leg (at one point) so a 3 goal lead is not much in reality!
Sadly I could not attend this game, the match clashed with the Metallica/Machine Head gig at the MEN Arena Thursday night, which I had some pretty decent seats at! So I had to rely on text updates from a mate at the game. For a full and detailed game review check out the Five Minute Major and The Pyre blogs, written by Matt/Becky and Rob respectively.
As with previous reviews ill make a few comments and will update my blog with video highlights when they become available!
Anyway onto the game:
First Period: By all accounts it seemed like the Phoenix had the better of the opening period, creating many chances. Only to be kept at bay by Verner in the Vipers goal. Thankfully the first goal (which was crucial in this type of game) came by way of the Phoenix at 3min 44sec when Nathan Ward struck his 15th goal of the season. Not to be outdone the Vipers ensured this was to be a close game when Mark Goett scored his second of the season at 16min 38sec.
Second Period: A mere 40 minutes now stood in the way of the Phoenix’ second trip into a cup final tie of the season. Im sure a fair few nerves were set jangling when it was the Vipers who scored first in the period, when at 27min 24sec the veteran Longstaff netted his 32nd of the season. This narrowed the score to 5-3 in favour of the Phoenix. A collective sigh of relief must have been emitted at 30min 30sec when Alex Dunn scored his 11th of the season.
Third Period: A manic opening minute saw the Phoenix take the lead in the game and extend the lead to 4-3 on the night and 8-4 overall. The first came from David Beauregard who, at 40min 23sec scored his 56th of the season. Followed a minute later by Brett Clouthier’s 7th of the season at 41min 26sec. As mentioned at the start it only takes a couple of seconds to score in hockey, and, a bizarre goal by the sounds of things. Likit Andersson scored at 41min 26sec with a shot from the resulting face off which surprised Smurf and crept under his pads. Thankfully the Phoenix held on and each team traded a goal in the last 3 minutes of the game. Jeff Hutchins scored for the Vipers at 57min 06sec and Kyle Bruce scored an empty netter for the Phoenix at 58min 22sec.
Verdict: As I was not at the game I cant really comment much, other than being chuffed the Phoenix managed to get the win and progress to the final. A tricky tie against the Vipers, as neither team can expect league success it leaves us with the Cup competitions, because of this any team will be up for the game! So now the Phoenix will progress to their second cup final of the season. Despite our league placing, this is turning out to be a vintage season for the Phoenix. Im sure, if you offered any Phoenix fan who attends the home games in the Dome two cup final appearances in a season, they would have torn your arm off! Now all we have to try and do is to win them!
We have a challenge cup final against the Giants, and now Knockout Cup final against the Devils or, again, the Giants! So Sheffield/Nottingham fans, can you say your team has made it to two finals this season? No I didn’t think so! Say what you want about the cup competitions, but if you faced a season with no success versus a season with a cup win, which would you choose?
Attendance: From reports it sounds like it was not a great attendance inside the Dome, but a great atmosphere none the less!
Phoenix TV Highlights: