The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

TAB On Tour - Japan

Right well The Angry Budgie is signing off for about a week and going on tour to Japan! In reality im off to see my brother who is out there teaching English, he of World Wide Webisphere fame..

I may update the blog from Japan if anything interesting comes up! But stay tuned as this thursday (30th April0 see's the Phoenix faithful gathered for a pretty important meeting in town. This could well confirm what league the Phoenix will be in come the 2009/10 season!

After digesting the in's and out's of that meeting I plan on putting a quick post together!

Anyway take care everyone!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Thoughts on a season Part 3

Manchester Phoenix
What a season for the Phoenix, the absolute roller coaster of a season was endured by those in the stands and the players on the ice.

We had the highs:

  • David –Alexandre Beauregard
  • The ageless Tony Hand
  • Reaching two cup finals
  • Reaching the playoffs again
  • The emergence of Stephen Murphy and Luke Boothroyd as two outstanding Brits
  • The fans

We had the lows:

  • Grant Jacobsen treating the Phoenix as a training camp
  • Loosing two cup finals
  • Not making the weekend in Nottingham
  • Being bullied out of the league – almost
  • Not having anywhere near the budget to break into the top four

This season was a season to be proud to be a Phoenix fan, the club has improved so much this year and there is much to be hopeful for. This season has shown the superb team we have had this season in Manchester. A team capable of running anyone ragged and for a moment a table topping team.

Tony Hand did it again and assembled a fantastic team on a shoe string, the headlines will go to David-Alexandre Beauregard but there were many stars on this team. You can check back on my Phoenix player rating post to see my views there.

The season will always be a bit tempered by what could have been, had we not had to play 17 games in a month, could we have won two cups? Had we not played so many games could we have knocked the Panthers out the playoffs? All the heartache caused by those thoughts has to be put into context by one thing:

Had anyone offered a Phoenix fan, two cup finals and another appearance in the Playoffs, what would you say?

Im sure pretty much every Phoenix fan would have said yes please!

If you forced me to pick one moment, one game that summed up the season, it would have to be periods one and two in the first leg of the challenge cup finals against the Belfast Giants. Sublime team play lay waste to one of the big four and had the Phoenix 4-0 up. The Ice Dome rocking its foundations with a deafening wall of noise, you can have your 7,000 seat arena but on that night, there was no better atmosphere any where all season!

So what now for the Phoenix, another EIHL season, (not 100% confirmed yet!) a season in a league where rules are openly broken, where 6 teams almost muscled us out. Our aim has to be to win a trophy. Upset the apple cart and make a stab at breaking the top four.

So to all Hull/Edinburgh and Newcastle fans, let us unite and rock 0910!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Thoughts on a season Part 2

So we had placings 1 to 5 yesterday, time for 7 to 10 today!

Newcastle Vipers

Bit of a disappointing season for the Vipers, the franchise players seemingly coming to the end of their careers the Vipers never really took off. Even Derek Campbell didn’t look the same this season. The Vipers need a clear out and get some fresh blood out on the ice. The Vipers should be up challenging for a title, they have all the ingredients:

Fine arena
Dedicated support
Hockey tradition

Sound familiar? You could argue the Vipers are much similar to the Panthers! Hockey in the north east has been around since year dot. So it just seams the final piece of the jig saw is the team on the ice.

For the 0809 season I enjoyed the Vipers visits to the Ice Dome as it would usually mean a win for the Phoenix. The Vipers played good, if not spectacular, hockey and had an outstanding net minder in Andrew Verner. His quality only underlined by being nabbed to the continent. Im sure the Blaze and Steelers must have been itching for his signature!

So a season to forget and a bit of an uneasy off-season as the clubs future is decided, but the Vipers are now a team I feel an affinity with. As a fellow member of the little four, a cracking weekend was spent singing along with the Vipers and generally making a nuisance of ourselves to make a point!

Edinburgh Capitals
The 0809 season for the Caps mirrored the 0708, the Caps struggle for most of the year but come January something happens up in Murrayfield. The Caps get going and make the playoffs. This year this meant a playoff quarter against the Steelers, a close first leg would leave the tie open to either team. But sadly, for everyone bar a Steelers supported, the game was decided after the first leg.

The Caps are slowly building a successful franchise up in Scotland, a Capitals visit to the Ice Dome was never an easy win for the Phoenix. But I loved watching them play, accompanied by some of the best fans in the league!

The big handicap, it seems, for the Caps is the revolving door roster. They need to sign a team and keep it all season. All the mid season departures and signings will never give rise to 100% coherency in the locker room.

Standout player would be Mark Hurtubise, coming in just behind our own David-Alexandre Beauregard in scoring stakes he was a joy to watch. I imagine a great deal of time and effort for the Caps office will be spent bringing him back to Edinburgh next year! I can only hope that if not, he considers Manchester! If we could afford it just imagine Hurtubise and Beauregard on the same line!

Hull Stingrays
Or should it be the Hull/Nottingham Stingrays, with rumours abound the Stingrays now being bankrolled by Neil Black it should be an interesting off-season for those in Hull! Hull always seem to struggle and never really got going in any game at the Ice Dome, the Stingrays only win against the Phoenix coming in the Phoenix march madness period when the team were dead on their feet.

A roster sprinkled with some decent players in Kostadine/Kalmikov/Slonina and emerging brit Lee Esders, the Stingrays had the nuts and bolts of a successful team. But they never really clicked and a poor first half of the season meant an uphill struggle was needed to reach the Caps in the last playoff spot.

With Rick Strachan gone and ex Blaze Clouthier becoming player coach there is much cause for optimism on Humberside. I will be looking forward to the visit of the Stingrays next season!

Basingstoke Bison
A season to forget for those down in the Silverdome, a season that yielded only 8 wins all year and a record making loosing streak. The worrying signs emerged early in the season for the Bison, only for planet ice to come in and save them. A move to the EPL being a sensible one for the Bison, many rivalries renewed and many new ones to be made!

Sadly 0809 would not see the same terrific ten for the Bison, as players left there did not seem to be the same do or die attitude on the Bison roster. At times the Bison would click and play some sublime hockey. But those moments were few and far between. The highlight for me would been the form of Kevin Reiter in the Bison goal. Standing on his head night in and night out he kept the score line respectable in so many games.

I think had he been with any other team he could easily win them a trophy, a big mobile goalie who would frustrate opposing fans and players.

So EPL for the Bison, and I think it will do them well! I will be sad not to see them or their fans at the Ice Dome again!

Tune in tomorrow for The Angry Budgie's view on the Phoenix!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Thoughts on a season Part 1

So I wanted to give my thoughts on each teams 0809 season and give my verdict on how they did. I wont be giving massive in-depth reviews just a few thoughts on each team. Ive decided to go through each team in league order however Ill do my review of the Phoenix last.

Sheffield Steelers
If any team summed up the phrase ‘Offence wins games, defence wins championships’ it’s the Sheffield Steelers. As you can see from the league table of the 13 games the Steelers lost all season over half were lost in OT. That’s an extra 7 points the Steelers were able to grind out over the season. When you look at the rest of the league most teams were lucky to pick up a loss in OT, most were lost in regulation. The Cardiff Devils were the only team to match the Steelers OT loss numbers.

The Steelers were also a team who did not have to rely on one or two stand out point’s scorers. With the point scoring spread pretty evenly across the team, coupled with one of the meanest defences in the league its not hard to see why they romped to the title. Plus with the wall that was Jody ‘Is a girls name’ Lehman in net it was near as damn it impossible for opposing teams to score!

So despite the fact I dislike the Steelers immensely and think that Dave Simms is a right royal tit, I can acknowledge they deserved the league title. They also deserved the playoff win too, the Panthers looked good in their semi-final but the Steelers made them look ordinary. It really was a case of inevitability when the Steelers scored!

So the house of tin will expect more of the same in 0910! For the rest of us the arrogant fans in the stand will never let us forget last season!

Coventry Blaze
Paul over at the Breakaway Hockey blog has commented many times about the Blaze season being a bit hit or miss. I can only echo those comments, a team in much flux after the loss of many star players last summer. The Blaze rebuilt around JF Perras in net, I had always thought Perras was a great net minder up in Scotland, so when he moved to the Blaze I thought they had a good un! But Perras could only mirror the Blaze up and down season. Moments of shear class mixed in with some pretty inept performances. Its no wonder the Blaze faithful never really took to him.

Its been an uneasy season for Coventry, years of the success have conditioned the Sky Dome faithful to certain levels of success. So to finish a season with nothing and a pretty poor finals performance will go down as a bad season for the Blaze, despite their second place.

Coventry always put on a good performance at the Ice Dome and you could easily see their class. In that case why is it so hard for the Blaze to repeat that performance come finals weekend? In their game versus the Panthers they looked disinterested and flat, and im sure that’s not the first time ive thought that about the Blaze at finals weekend!

Success will be demanded next season, so it will be an interesting off season for those in Coventry!

Nottingham Panthers
So the biggest team in the league, the biggest wage bill in the league the ‘best’ arena in the league won absolutely diddly squat, again, this past season. A team which consistently brakes the wage cap proves once again money cant instantly buy you a cup! Putting all that aside the Panthers could play some sublime hockey, and thoroughly deserved their place in the playoff final. Such a pity they came up against the Steeler machine!

Nottingham were probably the team the Phoenix had most success against, of those in the ‘big four’. For the most part the Phoenix were able to cope well with the Panthers, especially on our home ice. But the Panthers did play some exciting hockey and were a joy to watch. With Johnny Molin a permanent highlight whenever his ‘Gay Boots’ (*thanks Choir boys!) were on the ice!

I don’t ever really remember the Panthers having much of a defence though! The Panthers had obviously decided on the ‘well score more than the opposition’ line of thinking. Michelle Robinson did well in the Panthers net, but im sure he will want the first Steeler goal in the playoff finals back! Just seemed to go right through him!

So the Panthers faithful will expect trophies for 0910, but unless a change in ethos I fear Nottingham will, once again, finish up trophy less.

Belfast Giants
The Giants were very similar to the Panthers, loaded with offensive talent but not much at the back. With Stevie Lyle in net you were never sure what performance you were going to get from him. A great GB net minder, but one prone to prolonged periods of wobbliness!

As a Phoenix fan I have become very well acquainted with the Giants over the course of the season. They play fantastic attacking hockey, but more and more with an underlying dirty/chipyness, which I hate with a passion! They always seemed willing to play dirty to get a win. The Giants season never really got going and they seemed unable to put a sustained run together to bother those at the top.

The Giants faithful will be satisfied with two trophies, won against a tired Phoenix side playing a million games in one month. I do wonder if the result would have been different had it not been for our fixture pileup!

So for next season the Giants will need to retain the offensive talent they had for 0809, including, possibly the only player to really bother DAB, Paul Deniset! But they will also need to add some defensive metal to the roster. Weather they can to stay under the wage cap is another thing though!

Cardiff Devils
The Devils are the team I like to peg the Phoenix to, to measure our development and success in the league. Despite their league placing I really don’t think the Devils are hugely better than the Phoenix. Had it not been for the Phoenix’ march madness I think we could have taken 5th place. Bu they the table shows what happened and the Devils did play some good hockey over the season.

Led by Mr Cardiff Devils Brad Voth the Devils had a fair few star players, but as normal they all got injured! Must be something in the water! As with previous season the Devils would surprise everyone with a good run only for it to fizzle out and come to nothing.

So the Devils finished the season with nothing, and made their now regular appearance at the finals weekend, sadly with their now regular loss in the semi’s. The time is coming for the Devils, I think 0910 could reward the Devils with a trophy, if they stay healthy!

The Devils are pretty much where I want the Phoenix, good crowds consistent appearances in Nottingham and finally some stability. For 0910? Trophies should come!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Manchester Phoenix 08/09 Season Review – The Attack

Number 9: Tony Hand Well, what can you say? The greatest player to have come out of and play in the UK. The British ‘Great One’ and the Phoenix coach. Manchester fans have been lucky to see Mr Hand play two full seasons at the Ice Dome and the great one gets better and better! There is no finer mind playing in the UK, at this moment! Many opposing fans bemoan their own team not taking him out and hitting him! That’s simply because… cant! He skates well, his stick handling is top notch and he can pick out a pass through a solid wall!

It is no surprise that since Tony has been playing for the Phoenix, Manchester have consistently had some of the leagues top point scorers. First Johan Molin, Second Joe Tallari and now David-Alexandre Beauregard! As you may have seen from my game review’s the only negative I will say regarding Mr Hand, is his frustratingly unwillingness to shoot the puck! So many times he has tried to find a pass when a shot would have been easier! Having said that Tony has showed great strides in his off ice development. Putting together another great team on a budget!

Re-Sign? Mr Hand’s ageing bones will decide this, im hoping he has at least one more season in them!

Season Stats: GP: 67, Goals: 21, Assists: 68, Points: 89, Pim: 84.

Number 10: David-Alexandre Beauregard Well what can you say about David-Alexandre Beauregard? Numerous Phoenix awards, numerous EIHL awards including Ice Hockey Journalists, and the EIHL top goal scorer and point’s scorer. David-Alexandre Beauregard has been, Tony Hand aside, the best player to pull on a Phoenix jersey! I would argue he has also been the best player to play hockey in Manchester! A player every other team would want, this guy just knows where the net is! His favorite haunt being un-marked on the back post, with Tony Hand usually finding him! Much has been made of his eyesight so I wont go into that. But the guy has been phenomenal!

David used his immense class and experience to lift the team when in a doldrums, and what makes it even sweeter? He is a thoroughly nice man! Always willing to spend time talking to the press and the fans, no wonder everyone loves him! The biggest surprise to those outside the Phoenix is, this man has been playing this great hockey all his life! So its not always down to being on the same line as Tony Hand! Even so David-Alexandre Beauregard had a career season with the Phoenix scoring an amazing 107 points. The man, the legend, David-Alexandre Beauregard!

Re-sign? Ask a silly question! Of course, he must be the first signature the Phoenix make! However the Phoenix will never be able to pay him what he could no doubt earn in Europe or back in the US. Plus with Nottingham/Sheffield and Coventry already rumored to be sniffing around, it will be hard for the Phoenix to hold on to him. This blogger will hope that his decision will not be totally reliant on money!

Season stats: GP: 69, Goals: 61, Assists: 46, Points: 107, Pim: 42

Number 11: Lucas Burnett Lucas came in a month into the season to fill the skates of the departing Grant Jacobsen. He took a while to settle in but he used his skill and speed to work tirelessly for the squad. Lucas slotted well into the second line and produced a near career high in terms of points for the season. A great team player, the British Columbian native worked hard every night.

After the anger from the fans had subsided following Jacobsen’s departure, out emerged Lucas Burnett and most fans were left thinking, Grant who……? While slightly smaller out on the ice the Phoenix did not miss Grant and, arguably, had replaced him with a better player!

Re-sign? His work on the second line had made him invaluable to the Phoenix all season! Yes please!

Season stats: GP: 56, Goals: 17, Assists: 27, Points: 44, Pim: 42

Number 14: Nathan Ward Another second line star, the centre man of that line and one of the teams highest scorers. Finishing up 4th in terms of scoring, a season where around 10 games were lost due to injury. Had it not been for those lost games Nate Ward would have finished closer to Luke Fulgham in the stats. Nathan almost bettered his 0708 season stats at Odessa but who knows what he may have finished with!

Nathan Ward was another fan favourite, who gave it his all every night. He also deputised on defence when needed and earned much respect while doing so!

Re-sign? As with Lucas, star second liners can be hard to find so once you have one, hold on to them! Yes please!

Season stats: GP: 69, Goals: 18, Assists: 38, Points: 56, Pim: 51

Number 16: Brett Clouthier The big man! Rapidly becoming the franchise player and a place in Phoenix fans hearts. Brett Clouthier commands instant respect the moment he steps on the ice. I would say Brett deserves to have number 16 retired at the Ice Dome the moment he decides to leave Manchester. His willingness to defend his team mates and work hard in the corners endear him to every fan in the stands.

An improvement in output when compared to his first full season in Manchester but a surprisingly quiet one in terms of Pim’s. It seemed like Tony had to rein him in a fair few times this season. His lack of Pim’s is highlighted when looking at the Phoenix roster where he only managed 3rd most number of Pim’s. Even so he is a Phoenix legend! Its an easy tag for Brett but appropriate, when the going got tough, Brett got going!

Re-sign? Another silly question, once you have Tony and David Beauregard signed up, the third signature must be Brett’s! Yes please!

Season stats: GP: 69, Goals: 12, Assists: 22, Points: 34, Pim: 175

Number 18: Bruce Mulherin The first of the Phoenix’ Brucie bonus! Along with Kyle Bruce, Bruce Mulherin had a fantastic season for the Phoenix. Hampered by a couple of injuries throughout the season it seemed that when Bruce played well, the Phoenix played well. Making up the last part of the second line offence, Bruce gave the Phoenix two strong lines to rely on all season!

Coming in at number 5 on the Phoenix scoring charts may seem a little unimpressive, but Bruce also brought toughness with him. Willing to mix it up when needed Bruce also racked up a fair few pim’s too! A career best season for Bruce also highlighted how valuable he was to the team.

Re-sign? As the final cog of the second line, his signature is also a must. To have that strength in dept is invaluable to a team!

Season stats: GP: 55, Goals: 25, Assists: 23, Points: 48, Pim: 115

Number 27: Luke Fulghum Often the forgotten man of the first line, and he probably likes it that way! Luke spent the season terrorising opposition defence with his skill and speed. Often difficult to stop and pin down Luke was not to be outdone by his line mates.

Another player who had a career season with the Phoenix, but some would argue playing on a line wit Tony Hand, most players would. It shows how well his season went in Manchester that his name often crops up on opposing fan hockey forum as a player they would want. All I, and the other Phoenix fans will say is, hands off he’s ours!

Re-sign? Yes, yes and errr yes! Being the club’s third highest point scorer you would need your head examining if you didn’t want Luke on your team!

Season stats: GP: 67, Goals: 34, Assists: 50, Points: 84, Pim: 38

Number 29: Adam Walker A resident of the Phoenix third line alongside Brett Clothier. Increased ice time this season saw Adam step up and provide the goods. Adam has had a fantastic season and has come out as a superb penalty shot taker. Now showing signs of developing into a class player, Adam has the raw skill to pull off some sublime moves. Hopefully, with another season under Tony Hand, Adam can polish those skills and start bothering the second line!

Adam stepped up and had his best season wearing a Phoenix shirt, including 17 goals and being the second least penalised player on the roster. With more ice time and further development Adam will soon become a main stay of the GB team.

Re-sign? As mentioned with Carl Graham, with the possibility of British EIHL players becoming rarer its important to hold on to them. For this reason and the prospect of developing another gem it will be important to make sure Adam stays in Manchester.
So yes please!!

Season stats: GP: 69, Goals: 17, Assists: 12, Points: 29, Pim: 8

Number 54: Kyle Bruce A player willing to rattle glass across the league, and a player who, almost, dethroned the resident Phoenix hard man Brett Clouthier! Despite his size Kyle would take on anyone, including the leagues bad boy Brad Voth, only to loose on reach alone! Kyle made up the second part of the Phoenix Brucie bonus. With his hard and physical style of play endearing him to the Phoenix faithful.

Yet another player having a career season here in Manchester, Kyle has the distinction of being another players with their own song:

‘If Cloots wont get you Brucie will, do dah do dah

Kyle is a gem of a player who gives 110% every shift every game, frequently giving the full blood, sweat and tears effort in a 60 minute game. Kyle was willing to put his body on the line for the team and always led by example. Kind of a Clouthier mini me too!

Re-sign? Absobluminlutely yes! Kyle is a pint sized pocket rocket. A Luke Stauffacher with more production!

Season stats: GP: 58, Goals: 13, Assists: 27, Points: 40, Pim: 179

Also Iced:

Number 19: Grant Jacobsen Grant was signed as the powerful centre man for the second line. He turned out to be just that, a big guy who led the rush for the net. Despite his size Grant also had the skill and was destined to be a staple of the team. However, he controversially left the team with 24 hours noticed and returned to Texas to play out the remained of the season with the team, from which the Phoenix signed him.

Widely condemned for this in the stands at the Ice Dome, Grant was not missed as the team brought in the superb Lucas Burnett. The worse thing for the Phoenix, it would seem Grant used the Phoenix for pre-season training for the CHL. With the EIHL beginning a month before the CHL, Grant arrived got in shape, played a couple of games before fleeing back to Texas.

Re-sign? Not a chance, with his actions being a disgrace the league is better off without him!

Season stats: GP: 8, Goals: 2, Assists: 2, Points: 4, Pim: 14

So thats my player by player season review, next up for the blog will be my own team by team review of the season! If you want to have a read of one done already, head on over the Paul's Breakaway Hockey Blog.

Meanwhile I hope you out there in readerland are ok, and enjoying the summer silly season!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Manchester Phoenix 08/09 Season Review – The Defence

Number 4: Luke Boothroyd What a season from the Huddersfield native, after being signed from the Hull Stingrays, Boothroyd would begin the season under the vastly experienced wing of Dwight Parrish. After Parrish’s departure around Christmas time Luke had to step up. With no sign of a replacement player Luke’s ice time grew rapidly, and boy, did he rise to it! Always a consistently good performer on the ice, he knew where to put his body, when and how to use his stick on the ice. Despite his size he could level any player in the EIHL, Brad Voth anyone?

His improvement becoming so marked, that he spent a good deal of the season on the top D pairing with Kenton Smith, and never looked out of place. Luke is a player who deservedly one an award at the end of season supporters do. Sadly he never won a man-of-the-match award during the season despite many great performances.

Re-sign? In a way I would welcome Luke’s signature as much as David-Alexandre Beauregard’s! Such is the high esteem I and many other Phoenix fans hold for Luke!

Season stats: GP: 69, Goals: 0, Assists: 8, Points: 8, Pim: 56.

Number 5: Kenton Smith (Captain) ‘Kenton is our captain, Kenton is our captain, da daa da da!’ Kenton Smith came in and was our best D man all season. A great leader on and off the ice, a consummate professional. Took over development duties for Luke and Carl after Dewy’s departure and nurtured both players. Kenton had a wicked shot and a willingness to get forward and rush the net. Not the biggest of guys but a guy who could mix it up when he wanted. A fully deserving player of the captaincy!

Fast, skillful and dependable, all the qualities you want in your captain and Kenton had them in spades. He led the blue line by example all season and chipped in with his own fair share of points. The leading D man, and 6th highest point scorer on the Phoenix roster.

Re-sign? Most defiantly yes! Kenton could turn out to be another franchise player for the Phoenix. Certainly one of our best ever Captains!

Season stats: GP: 67, Goals: 9, Assists: 38, Points: 47, Pim: 74.

Number 7: Alex Dunn A player in a similar vein to Kenton Smith, with the only possible difference being Alex’ willingness to mix it up! As shown by his impressive PIM figure, beating Mr Clouthier indeed! Alex has worked hard all season and has finished up number 3 in terms of D men scoring. Able to read the play well and execute a mean slap shot. Ive been a big fan of Alex’ all season and he is a player who has improved all year.

Forming a great partnership with Josh or Kenton, Alex has adapted well to the small ice here in Altrincham. More than willing to join in the rush, Alex has scored a respectable 13 goals this season. Matching his previous seasons tally from Odessa.

Re-Sign? A cracking season from the Michigan native, I would have him back next season!

Season Stats: GP: 68, Goals: 13, Assists: 30, Points: 43, Pim: 199

Number 13: Josh Garbutt The seasons utility player, Josh played a fair few games up front for the Phoenix when the squad was hit by injuries. For this reason alone he can be called Mr Reliable! A consistent performer in the Phoenix ranks, while not the flashiest Josh got the job done each night. Some interesting hair/facial displays throughout the season have made Josh a firm fan favourite.

A 45 point season ranks as a career best for Josh, the stint on the forward lines obviously contributed to his increased point taking. Plus he must have had a good season for a chant to be made up for him! Cue the choir boys:

‘Josh Garbutt plays for Phoenix, he wrestles Buffalo, were gonna sing a song for him and this is how it goes……’

Re-Sign? Again another yes please, with a fully fit team would allow Josh to concentrate on what he does best. Defence!

Season Stats: GP: 66, Goals: 8, Assists: 37, Points: 45, Pim: 67

Number 81: Carl Graham Carl had a season much like Adam Summerfield, biding most of his time on the bench and awaiting the call from Tony to join in the fray. As such his ice time was limited, but whenever he did step out onto the ice the young Brit defence men never looked out of place. A little in-experienced he will have learnt a lot this season. No doubt aided by Dwight Parrish, until his departure, Graham will have learned so much behind Tony/Kenton and the rest of the team.

Possibly the best indicator of his progress has been his first points registered at EIHL level, with his first goal coming against the leagues best nettie Jodie Lehman. Carl never let the side down when he stepped out onto the ice, and im sure another season will see him break out and become an established Brit! Plus a loyal fan club is now forming, with frequent ‘We Love you Carl’ shouts being heard from the stands!

Re-Sign? With the possibility of British players becoming rarer at EIHL level, its important to hold onto the good ones! Yes please!

Season Stats: GP: 67, Goals: 1, Assists: 2, Points: 3, Pim: 18

Also Iced:

Number 17: Dwight Parrish The veteran defense man was brought in to give the young Phoenix organisation some experience. While being one of the best defense man to grace the British game, Parrish also brought vast experience of hockey in Manchester too! Having iced two seasons with the Manchester Storm and the Phoenix’ first season of existence, Parrish came to the Phoenix in 0809 after having played the previous 9 seasons in the UK.

Dwight, while not being the most mobile of defense men, brought a fine hockey mind to the blue line. His experience could be seen rubbing off on the likes of Luke Boothroyd and Carl Graham. His stick handling and positioning on the ice were second to none! His season was cut short when he left the Phoenix just before Christmas to start his post hockey career. Now im not going to comment further on this as I have already done that here: Dwight Takes Flight. (link to post)

Re-sign? If he were still playing, yes please!

Season Stats: GP: 33, Goals: 3, Assists: 10, Points: 13, Pim: n/a

...and so tomorrow will bring the attack!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Manchester Phoenix 08/09 Season Review – The Goaltenders

Number 31: Stephen Murphy I will hold my hands up and say I was worried when the Phoenix announced Murphy’s signature. After having watched import goalies for many years I did wonder whether a homegrown nettie would do the job for the Phoenix. Now seven months and 66 games later im so happy to have been proven wrong. I have been really impressed with Stephen over the course of the season. He is a cracking goalie, my only negative would be: I would wish he stayed in his net! He tends to go on a wander some times and a few goals were conceded while he was out of position. However he is a flexible goalie and one that can move around in his net at high speed. Im also a fan of his, ‘get any part of your body in the way of the puck’ style of goaltending!

This season has proved he is, arguably, the best British goalie playing in the EIHL. Sadly Mr Lehman gaining a British Passport will now seriously affect any GB progression! A sad day as it was satisfying to see GB move away from this practice, but hey that’s an argument for another day. When you compare Murphy’s stats against the only other British starting nettie he comes off quite well:

Murphy – Games played: 66, GAA: 3.00, Save %:91
Lyle – Games played: 64, GAA:2.92, Save %: 90

So a great season from Murphy in the end and one Phoenix fan gladly proved wrong!

Re-sign? Absolutely yes!

Number 30: Adam Summerfield So it was down to Adam to fill the un-enviable back up goalie slot on the Phoenix roster. This usually means spending the whole season sitting on the bench waiting/dreading the moment the starter is pulled from the game. The 19-year-old northwest native was chosen for this role this past season, and a role im sure he was aware of when he signed up. Without a doubt he will have found it valuable to train with the elite side all year, and when he was called upon during the season he coped well with the pressure.

Another season’s experience gone Adam’s development has gone on leaps and bounds. Hopefully he will get more opportunities at this level soon. Its soon coming to the time where Adam must decide if he wants to carry on warming the bench, or possibly dropping down a level to find a starters position. Either way his time and effort for the Phoenix has been appreciated all year!

Re-sign? Yes please!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

EIHL Playoff Finals 2009 Review

Before I launch into my review of the past weekends festivities a quick mention must be made of the EIHL’s brush with implosion. As mentioned in my previous post here things seemed to have come to ahead on the Friday of last week. Im not going to go into the ins and outs in great detail as other blogs, and the numerous press releases pretty much cover it all. Along with all the supporters forums across the land.

Basically Friday saw both the Phoenix and the Capitals post two news items detailing the bare bones of operating within the EIHL. Exposing all the improper business
dealing, all the mis-management and cloak and dagger movements behind the scenes. Now I am a Phoenix fan, but putting aside my Phoenix tinted specks, after reading the following two links you must admit the Caps/Vipers and Phoenix were nearly forced out of the league by the ‘other’ 6! So the two articles in question:

Manchester Phoenix
Edinburgh Capitals

If all this is true, I think it’s a complete and utter disgrace and the ‘other’ 6 should hang their head in shame! However as im not privy to how each club and in turn the league is run I will leave my comments there. Following the playoff weekend it does, how ever, seem that sense has prevailed:

Elite League

So after reaching the edge, it seems everyone took a moment and a step back! We will have nine teams in next seasons Elite League. So onto finals weekend, and the annual pilgrimage to Nottingham! Yours truly started off the weekend badly, when East Midlands Trains decided to cancel our train! Never mind, we made it and joined around 350 other Phoenix fans spread across blocks 7 and 8! The ticket allocations for the playoffs is a whole other farce from EIHL towers!

Anyway the four teams present in Nottingham were:

Sheffield Steelers

Coventry Blaze
Nottingham Panthers
Cardiff Devils

With the Devils crashing the party EIHL towers would nearly have had a wet dream over that lineup! Almost the coveted ‘big 4’ at finals weekend! Anyway ill review ea
ch game separately from what I can remember! If im honest I spent most of finals weekend singing for the Phoenix and generally being a nuisance (noise wise) to the league in the NIC! You can revisit my weekend predictions here.

So here we go:

Sheffield Steelers vs Cardiff Devils

Pre finals weekend prediction: Steelers to win.

Final Score: Steelers 5 – 2 Devils

With the vast majority of the arena rooting for the Devils, save for some Giants fans – get a room J, the Steelers had to make sure they did not come acropper to th
e perennial Finals team the Devils. All looked to be going well for the Steeler machine when Phillips had them in front at the end of the first period. Even at this stage, with the solid Steeler D it began to look inevitable. The Steelers began the second where they left off in the first, when Doug Sheppard made it 2-0 Steelers. This seemed to wake the Devils who then went on to score two goals in 71 seconds. With everyman’s nemesis Brad Voth getting the first and Matt Elich getting the second. The Steelers did end the period in front, however, when Jeff Legue netted. The game was put beyond any doubt when the excellent Robert Dowd scored to make it 4-2 Sheffield. The Devils pressed, and with Aubry off the ice for the extra skater, Deganais scored an empty netter to send the Steelers to the final, and the Devils home…..again!

Coventry Blaze vs Nottingham Panthers

Pre finals weekend prediction: Panthers to win.

Final Score: Blaze 2 – 6 Panthers
EIHL towers would have been praying for a Panther win in this semi-final, and those towers will need a wipe down as the Panthers eased past a rather naff Coventry Blaze. Many a Phoenix fan were left to rue the loss to the Panthers in the quarters, as many fancied the Phoenix to win through to the final had we played that Blaze side. Anyway onto the game! This semi was effectively done and dusted after the first 20minutes. The Panthers raced to a 3-0 lead in 14 minutes. With goals from Galbraith, Cook and player coach Neilson. The Blaze, understandably, took a time out to regroup and disrupt the Panthers flow. It seemed to work and before the end of the period the Blaze were on the board through Stewart. Onto the second, with many hoping of a Blaze revival, it wasn’t to come. The Panthers would win the period 2-1. With goals from Clarke and Richardson, and the solitary Blaze goal from Moore. It was all over after 4 mins of the third when Bergin scored the Panthers 6th just to humiliate the Blaze. Im amazed by the Blaze! They always seem to make it to Nottingham only to loose all interest and go out without so much as a whimper! Mr Thomas needs to sort this out or the Blaze will never make it to a final! So with the Panthers meeting the Steelers in the final EIHL towers had their dream final, as mentioned the Kleenex must have got worn out in those ivory towers! I had a big worry with this game, with all the build up I came to the conclusion that this final would be naff!


The Playoff Final – Sheffield Steelers vs Nottingham Panthers

Pre finals weekend prediction: Steelers to win.

Final Score: Steelers 2 – 0 Panthers

So the immovable Steelers defence cam e up against the high flying Panthers offence, whats that phrase again?
‘Offence wins games, defence wins championships’ So it was the case, this game needed the Panthers to score first, and they didn’t! It was obvious from the moment the Steelers scored first an air of inevitability descended on the NIC. It was only a case of when Sheffield would secure the win rather than if! A game, which promised so much, including a warm up session of handbags! Rather petered out into a naff final. The Steelers scored after 15mins through Steve Munn with a shot that Michel Robinson will want back! The Panther fans will complain he was offside, however from where I sat, at the other end of the arena, it looked ok for me! An even second period that resulted in no goal lead to a winner takes all third period. The Panthers could not muster enough offence to really trouble the excellent Lehman in the Steeler goal. Sheffield would go on to secure the win when Ryan Finnerty scored their second at after 44minutes. From that moment the Steeler curtain fell and the Panthers could not find a way through.
So ended the game, and a moment, which I think was the most disgraceful thing I have ever seen in hockey. More on which below!

Another weekend in Nottingham gone, a weekend of much turmoil and protest, and ultimately a rather dull win for the Steelers. Im sorry for the so called ‘greatest rivalry in hockey’ it produced one of the worst finals I have ever seen!

Highlights of the weekend:
  • The camaraderie between the ‘little 3’ Vipers/Caps and Phoenix fans, joining together to let the EIHL know, we would not go quietly!
  • Upholding the Phoenix fan’s reputation as the best in the country IMO! We defiantly had the best variation in songs sung all weekend!
  • 'He shot, he missed, he wanted an assist, Tony Hand, Tony Hand!'
  • Meeting Paul from the Breakaway Blog for a good chinwag!
Lowlights of the weekend:
  • Theres two really, the perennial tit that is David Simms coming down from his lofty perch to rollock the Viper fans beneath him for making a noise!
  • But the icing on the cake was the way the Steelers celebrated their final win. You would have thought with 5 seconds to go Lehman would wait and go and celebrate in front of his own fans? Well no he didn’t, he threw down his stick, raced over to the Panther fans, jumping into the plexi and beginning to goad and taunt those fans. Im pretty sure Lehman knows what the V sign means! Needless to see the Panther fans went mad, a situation only made worse when the rest of the Steeler team decided to join Lehman on the plexi making the same gestures!
  • The Panther players thanking only thanking their own fans after the final. OK fiar enough but skate around the arena, lets face it most of it was supporting you!
What makes all this worse is the Steelers complete lack of judgement and releasing the following official press release:

Sheffield Steelers

This has just shown what a classless organisation the Steelers are, their celebration and this press release serve nothing other than to stoke up and piss of the Panthers organisation more. It was a senseless and needless act.
Ignore what I say, fine I don’t care what you think, but you cannot escape the facts of the day! The way the Steelers celebrated was wrong, and releasing that article on the official website was just stupid.

So a weekend of much turmoil ended the way it begun, with the EIHL showering itself in brown doo doo!

Up next for this blog will be a Phoenix end of season player by player review, and a club by club review. Stay tuned people!

EIHL - Back from the Edge!

Well a weekend is a long time in hockey! Since my post here on the possible death of the Elite League it seems sense has prevailed and the league will go ahead, as was, with 9 teams for 09/10!

The Elite League have issued this press release detailing whats happening next season. Thankfully it seems like the league owners have seen sense and decided a 6 team league was not the way forward. If anyone has an ounce of sensibility in them, they too would have come to this conclusion! 6 team league, playing each team 5 times home and away? How quick will that get boring? Those 6 saying it will produce fast exciting will, there will just be no one there watching!

Paul over at the Breakaway blog has made many a good point reading into the EIHL release above, I suggest you head on over and take a read!

While a compromise seems to have been agreed, I cant help but think this is just putting off the problem until later! At a time where no one is flushed with money, this agreement just means the haves can have bigger better paid teams than the have nots. The only restriction is the 10 imports on any given match night. Plus, as Paul mentions, no reference made to enforcing a wage cap, come to think of it theres no mention of a cap at all! Which means we all carry on as is, the same teams busting the cap with no punishment.

Im glad the Phoenix are still in the EIHL don't get me wrong, but my sense of worry is still there! This could have been the time the EIHL woke up to the current world and acted to ensure the future of top flight hockey in the UK. As it is they haven't, the fact that some clubs wanted to spend even more money really has shocked me!

This leads me to a question, why shake things up now?

Manchester and Cardiff are still settling into new rinks, Newcastle look to be leaving the Metro Arena and the Bison have left for pastures new. Personally this whole furore should not have come about anyway. Keep the league as is, minus some minor tinkering, and settle for some stability. Lord knows the Phoenix need it after many years of turmoil.

Maybe in a couple of years we can revise import limits etc...but only after each club can operate on a sound footing!

Anyway as it is we will see EIHL hockey next year, but I do worry we will have this same circus next summer!

That's it for today, im halfway through my Playoff Final weekend review and will hope full have that online tomorrow. For now take care, enjoy your summer, and keep checking all the hockey related blogs for more Finals Weekend fall out and summer coverage!

Take care everyone!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Playoff Playlist - Metal Edition by The Angry Budgie

Right so seeing as though FMJ and The Breakaway are doing a playlist in readiness for the finals weekend, I decided id do one too! Drawing on my favourite kind of music, Metal and maybe the odd Punk song thrown in, I think these 10 make the perfect hockey playlist.

So crank it up to 11 and and grab your stick, here we go......

1) Hatebreed -I Will Be Heard

'Now is the time for me to rise to my feet,
wipe the spit from my face, wipe these tears from my eyes'

Pure metal at its best, such a rousing song which will also kick you in the nuts. A song totally applicable for the rising Phoenix, and a call to arms for the fans. This is a song which will get you pumped before the puck drops.

2) Chimaira - Power Trip

'I will not fail again,
I will not let you win,
Fuck your power trip'

Sorry for the swearing on that one, but another great song and an ideal one to follow on from Hatebreed. Also a song applicable for current times, for fans of the 'little' team a chance to stick two fingers up to those in power!

3) Machine Head - Imperium

'Hear me now, bearing down upon a path we choose,
chosen from the start living different rules'

It was only a matter of time before a Machine Head song crept up in my list, and an epic song none the less. A song aimed at breaking free from those in power, again the little teams versus those holding the perceived power in Elite Towers possibly?

4) Killswitch Engage - Fixation on the Darkness

'Its your choice, point the finger, but its on your head,
your destination is a choice within yourself,
will you rise or become a slave'

This song comes at you like a ton of bricks after the opening, orchestral even, strings. I cant help but think this sums my feelings up at the moment. If true the Elite 6 have made their choice and be it on their head the consequences!

5) Mindless Self Indulgence - Shut Me Up

'I can't wait for you to shut me up, And make me hip like badass,
I can't wait for you to shut me up, Shut it up'

One of my all time favourite bands, and a band im proud to say ive seen in their natural habitat. Upstate New York, Albany in a right dive of a venue! This song is a cracking piece of techno metal and the band play so hard it makes your eyes water. A great song to get you in the mood for a hockey match and the heart pumping!

6) DragonForce - Through the Fire and Flames

'We feel the pain of a lifetime lost in a thousand days,
Through the Fire and Flames we carry on'

Another of my all time favourite bands and a song which tells the story of the Manchester Phoenix. There has been much pain and sacrifice here in Manchester and once more the team has carried on through all the crap thrown against it. The team truly has, been through the Fire and Flames!#

7) The Offspring - (Cant Get My) Head Around You

'Every single day what you say makes no sense to me,
even though I try I cant get my head around you'

Now The Offspring are my number one band, and there are many songs I could have chosen. But ive decided to go for a relatively recent tune and, arguably, the best song on the Splinter album. A fast and frenetic punk rock song, perfectly apt for a fast flowing game of hockey. Some would say that the Elite League itself is pretty hard to get your head around some times! See what I did there! :)

8) Within Temptation - Stand My Ground

'Stand my ground, I wont give in.
I wont give up, no more denying. Ive got to face it'

A bit of gothic rock now, and possibly the best voice in rock. Sharon Den Adel's voice is mesmerizing and haunting at the same time. WT have many a good song, but ive gone for Stand My Ground as it showcases the Dutch bands majestic rock songs at their finest. The song paints an epic picture and is perfect for a game of hockey. Encouraging all on the ice to stand their ground and keep fighting in each corner for each puck.

9) Arch Enemy - We Will Rise

'Tear down the walls, Wake up the world, Ignorance is not... Bliss
So fed up with the Second best, Our time, Is here and now'

The Swedish metal band at their best, when I first heard this song I honestly thought it was a guy singing. But blumin eck Anglea Gossow has one hell of a set of lungs on her! This song just rumbles on for the full length, and with the constant base drum will beat you into submission. I also think that the Elite League really has reach the edge, and the time is now to sort top flight hockey out in this country! The only problem with this song, its not exactly ideal for keeping your calm to!

10) Less Than Jake - Last One Out Of Liberty City

'Last one out of liberty city, burn it to the ground'

On reflection I had to have Gainesville's finest in my list somewhere! This song, for the opening song alone is a belter! Feels much like leaving Nottingham on the monday after finals weekend! Lets get out and get rid! The song is just energy from start to finish, and you cant but help skank along with a big smile on your face!

11) Blind Guardian - Another Stranger Me

'I didn't know, I couldn't hear the anger my mind was blank I should have known,
Hold it back but somehow there is someone else, another stranger me'

So I was thinking on how to end my 10 songs, do I go for another metal song? Do I go for Punk? So I thought balls to it ill go for some fantasy metal for middle earth! Blind Guardian are German metal band who ive only really just got into, but their songs really tell a tale. Another band who's songs become more than just music, a real story and roller coaster ride. Another Stranger Me has the fast paced sections to get your heart racing, but also the fantasy slow sections that will get you rising in your feet. In a way a perfect end to my 10 playoff playlist.

So thats it, I hope you like my song choices! It was good therapy doing this list! With all the depression at the moment regarding who's in or who's not in for the Elite League, it gave me a chance to browse my CD racks and re-discover some classic tunage!

Anyway have fun listening everyone!

Death of the Elite League?

Well the proverbial really has hit the fan hasn't it!

If you have been living under a rock for the past 24hours you have missed some action! There has been many a rumour floating around the message boards regarding the structure of next seasons Elite League. There are three clubs, Manchester/Newcastle and Edinburgh, who 'appear' to have been ejected from the Elite League for next year.

Naturally there are many arguments on either side as to who is right and who is wrong. The frustrating thing as a Phoenix fan is the lack of clarity on the issue! This whole saga has left a sour taste in the mouth in the run up to the, usually, fantastic finals weekend in Nottingham.

I wont go on much more on this as, frankly, I don't know much! But have a read of the following blogs/newspaper articles and they will fill you in!

Breakaway British Hockey Blog

F Block Blog
The Cats Whiskers
The Pyre
The Phoenix Website
Elite League Website
Bolton Evening News
Nottingham Evening Post
Edinburgh News

So as you can see its already covered in most quarters, hopefully, from a Phoenix perspective, all will become clear tomorrow morning at 7am!

So if your up at that time, pay the Phoenix site a visit!

I do plan on doing my own playoff hockey essential tracks, as per recent posts by the Breakaway and FMJ blogs. That
may well appear tonight or tomorrow!