The previous night the Phoenix kicked off their debut EPL season with an away trip to Basingstoke, our fellow ex-EIHL'ers. The game also saw Ed Courtney arrive in the UK not 24 hours prio, not having skated for the summer or trained with the Phoenix. That didn stop him mind, he skated out with 4 goals in a 7-4 win for the Phoenix. Luke Boothroyd also scoring his first for the club!
Sunday saw the first EPL game in the Ice Dome, Swindon Wildcats were the opposition and this is how the game went:
First Period: Not quite the same free flowing hockey as against Sheffield, bit more of a gritty game this one. I did think the Phoenix edged the first period overall, but it was Swindon who scored the only goal of the period with a goal from Matt Ford on the powerplay, their first real chance of the opening 20mins.
Second Period: Well the game exploded in the second period, still it was the same gritty hockey. Swindon seemingly preventing the Phoenix from getting a rhythm together to emulate the hockey played the previous week. The Phoenix levelled in the 27th minute when the superb Courtney found Hagelberg. Frustratingly Swindon went back ahead in less than a minute from Joe Baird. The play started producing more end to end action as both teams looked to take control. Just before the 30min mark the Phoenix levelled, for the second time, through the big man, Ed Courtney. In imitation to the first Phoenix goal, Swindon took the lead through Jozef Kohut, only for the big Swede Mattsson to send us into the break 3 a piece.
Third Period: It was either Swindon tiring or the Phoenix finally getting into gear but the Phoenix pressed hard in the final stand. With each attack you could sense the Phoenix were close to scoring, but so far Woolhouse in goal was playing out of his skin. But it was to be a good night for the Phoenix and young Brit James Neil roofed an absolutely beautiful wrist shot after 56mins. In the dying minutes Swindon pulled the goalie for the extra skater but the Phoenix were able to dig deep and get the win.
Verdict: Not a pretty game, defiantly a win whilst not at your best! Still Ed Courtney proved that he still has a hockey mind and hands to give Tony a run for his money. The Brits put in a darn good shift and Hagelberg proved what a vital player he will become for the Phoenix!
Attendance: Similar crowd to the Sheffield game, probably around the 700 mark.
Phoenix TV Hilights:
Phoenix 4 Swindon 3 - MEN Article