Phoenix were at home on Saturday night this past weekend, entertaining the Guilford Flames for the first time this season! The fixture gremlins had really thrown up something strange already this season. This being the first visit of the Flames to the Ice Dome, comes after the Phoenix playing all their home games against the MK Lightning!
Going into this game I was not too hopeful, the Phoenix squad had already lost Steve Fone to a shoulder injury. This weekend and next would see the squad loose 4 further players to the GB Under 21 squad away in Hungary. Though this was tempered slightly as the Phoenix had called up four Trafford Metro’s players. These guys would have to get some ice time, or the existing Phoenix squad would be dead on its feet! All this, and a Thursday night heavy defeat away to Peterborough, did not fill me with confidence! All the reports of Guilford heading into this game were off a good and improving team. So almost a perfect storm for the Phoenix!
First Period: Despite all the worries outlined above the Phoenix came out and played hard from the beginning. Some great early chances were created, but a little worryingly, the defence hadn’t quite caught up with the hectic offence. Tony had jiggled with the lines for this came, for obvious reasons! Ben Wood being promoted up to the second line along with Adre Payette! Adam Summerfield was called into action early and, thankfully, showed he was up to the task! The Phoenix were first on the board after 6min 19sec through Jaakko Hagelberg scoring from Tony Hand and Ed Courtenay. Guilford hit back around 5 minutes later, with Martin Masa scoring after 11min 37sec. The Phoenix then scored two goals in two minutes to effectively win the game in the first period. Adam Walker got another goal after 14min 20sec as the top line clicked once again. Then, after 17min 27sec Tony Hand would score. This followed at least two or three scoring attempts by Mr Hand, finally his resolve snapping and rocketing a slapshot from the hash marks past Mark Lee in goal.
Second Period: The most surprising thing about this game, was how poor Guilford were! Im not saying the Phoenix were amazing, but after hearing other comment on the Flames, maybe I was expecting more from them. But, as mentioned above, the game was really won in the first period. The second period carried on as the first had ended, the Phoenix creating chances and Guilford not really doing a lot. Only two goals were scored in the second period, the first at 23min 12sec through Ryan Johnson. His first of the season capped off a great performance from him. In my eyes and of others, the man of the match. He broke down the left wing and ripped a shot past Lee, only to hit the post with a loud ‘ping’. The puck ricocheting off the post, onto the back of Lee and finally resting up in the net. The next, and subsequent final goal of the game fell to Mr Tony Hand! I know two goals in the game! Another unfortunate one for Lee in goal. Tony Hand centred the puck across the face of the goal, only for it to be deflected into the goal by a Flames defenseman. So the natural order of things restored, Tony Hand only ‘assisted’ that goal!!
Third Period: With the scores at 5-1 and the Flames not really turning up, we could have ended the game there and gone home. But the third period was played out and not much happened! As the Flames did not press, the Phoenix just had to contain them and finish off the game, which they duly did.
Verdict: A very strange game, and really because the Flames did not turn up! Which is a shame as a decent crowd from Guilford turned up to support their team. They did try, but even the drummer had really given up by the third period! Even the home support had sort of given up by the third, this lead to a very strange atmosphere at the Dome. Maybe we have been spoilt by some rip-roaring games in the past, but I think most people were shocked by the non-event on the ice! But hey you still have to beat the team in front of you! The Phoenix did that and avoided a potential banana skin!
Attendance: A bit lower than normal due to the Saturday night staging of the game. Ill guess at around 800 in the Ice Dome.
As you may have see in today's post we have a few pictures too! Think of it as an early Christmas present!