The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Phoenix v Sheffield Steeldogs 19th December Game Review

The Phoenix away game to the Milton Keynes Lightning saturday night was called off due to adverse weather conditions. According the MK this was due to the Phoenix not being able to make it to Milton Keynes. Given the Phoenix were already an hour and a half into their journey I dont believe that much! Anyway, it probably was too dangerous to play, as the Milton Keynes area had been badly hit by snow!

With the south east being badly hit doubts were raised about the Phoenix home fixture against the Slough Jets sunday. In fact the game was called off sunday morning, but interestingly the Phoenix press release mentioned a possible game going ahead anyway. Step forward the Sheffield Steeldogs. So a big mention has to go out to them for stepping forward to play the fixture. Win win on both counts for the Phoenix. The club get to make some money from a home fixture, and both the Phoenix/Sheffield get to play out a game that would, otherwise have to be re-arranged towards the end of the season.

So onto sunday nights game, i'll apologise if my review is a bit naff, due to Heathrow being up the creek its been mad busy at work!

First Period: With the introduction of Andre Payette to the Steeldogs roster there was an added level of spice to this game. Would Sharpie and Payette fight? well yes probably, when would they? Some hockey was played and the Phoenix dominated the play, but worryingly gave away a couple odd man rushes which, had Fone not been on form, would have seen the Steeldogs go 2-0 up! Thankfully Fone was in top form and kept the scores 0-0. Phoenix would take the lead after 6min 50sec when Kristoffersson put the puck past the Steeldogs goalie. Who's name, I must admit, escapes me right now! Ben Bowns was away on GB duty, and by all accounts performing brilliantly! The Phoenix made it 2-0 under a minute later when Greg Wood got a deserved goal at 7min 27sec. The first line clicked again at 9min 01sec when Curtis Huppe scored his first of the night. The first period did not have to wait too long before Payette and Sharp lined each other up. After a few minutes of goonage from Payette, including him trying to go with Tony Hand, Sharp and Payette got to it in front of the Phoenix bench. I'd like to say Sharp won, but Payette's extra size I think gave him the edge in the fight! It wouldn't be the last time, not just in the game, but in the period for these two! around the 17min mark Payette was holding Tony and chatting, almost trying to get him to go for a fight. Sensibly Tony got off the ice and sent on Sharpie. Sadly, and disappointingly, Payette took one punch from Sharp and turtled it! Never thought i'd see Payette wimp out from a fight! From the resulting penalties Payette would loose his head and abuse the official this would earn him a 10min+game+match penalty! He absolutely lost it! This highlights one of the best reason's for having Sharpie on the squad. He is a Brit, Payette an import. Even if Sharpie had been ejected from the game, the Phoenix would have only lost a Brit, rather than one of the few valuable imports on a roster! Anyway, I think iv'e rambled on enough about the first period!

Second Period: Carried on much like the first, in terms of play! The game was effectively over in the first 5 minutes of the second period. The Phoenix raced to a 6-0 lead with goals from Huppe, on 23min 07sec. Harabin on the powerplay at 24min 08sec. And Archer on 24min 29sec. Huppe's goal to make it a 4-0 lead was a peach! After a lovely lobbed pass from the defence, Tony/Curtis and Marcus were clean through on the Sheffield goal. For once a neat pass exchange in front of goal lead to a goal. A real highlights real effort too! The final goal of the period and game would come at 31min 30sec when Stephen Wallace scored against his old club. As is a trait of Tony Hand teams, when games get to this position he really wants to ease up and not embarrass the opposition. It was clearly visible the Phoenix slowed their play, in fact they would have been at a standstill had they gone any slower! Adam Summefield also came on the see out the rest of the game towards the end of the second period.

Third Period: To be honest my memory of the third period is lacking! That could be due to being busy at work over the past few days, or it could be that nothing happened!! All I can remember is that the ref began to call some interesting penalties! Now I can never criticise a ref, as I cant do the job, but crikey, there were some shockers!

Verdict: In the end a routine win against an understrength Steeldogs squad. Loosing Ben Bowns affected them badly as he really is a quality goalie. I'd say after the Phoenix went 3-0 up the game wasn't the best to watch. Sheffield didn't not give up, but lacked the quality to make a difference on the scoreboard. I was dissapointed to see Payette return to goon status after becoming a decent player at the Phoenix. It's obvious the effect Tony had on him! The Steeldogs big import defence man Grundmanis also seemed to like picking on the Phoenix two smallest players in Greg Wood and Tom Duggan. To be honest I bet both could hold their own in a fight!

Attendance: December is never a great month for attendances however I would say around 800 hardy souls made the trip!

Phoenix 7 Sheffield 0 - The Bolton News
Phoenix 7 Sheffield 0 - CB Sport Article

Friday, 17 December 2010

Telford Tigers Weekend 11/12th December

So last weekend was a northern road trip for the Tigers, taking in two away games against the Sheffield Steeldogs and the Manchester Phoenix. This would be a testing weekend for the Tigers as they were up against their rivals in the league in Sheffield. Plus this would be a Steeldog's team bolstered by the big Canadian Andre Payette. Payette has proved he can play some hockey, as he did for the Phoenix last season. But he has also proved he can look after and mentor the young Brits on the squad, and, in Sheffield young British talent is something they have in abundance. Then the Tigers would come to Altrincham to play the Phoenix. Last time the two sides met in Altrincham the Tigers took it to penalty shots. This was after the Phoenix massively underestimated them. Would it happen a second time, or would the real Phoenix turn up?

Saturday, south Yorkshire, the Tigers arrived at Ice Sheffield for a big game. As I have mentioned in many a previous post, if the Tigers have real playoff aspirations these are the games they need to be winning. The Tigers task has been made tougher as they have lost a number of guys to GB duty. Including the influential Ashley Calvert. This is the guy who has come into the squad recently and lit up the score sheets. The Tigers made a promising start but, as in many sports, a missed penalty shot swung momentum. The Steeldogs had forced a 3-2 lead by the time Maslovski's had the one-on-one chance. He missed, and the momentum stayed with the Steeldogs. In the closing moments it appears cool heads were not kept on the Tigers bench, coach Tom Watkins earning himself a game misconduct penalty. Being a goal down, without their coach, and on the penalty kill, the Steeldogs were able to keep their lead and even score an empty net goal. Steeldosg taking the two points with a 6-4 victory.

Minus their GB internationals, and now minus their influential player coach, a severely depleted Tigers squad arrived in Altrincham hoping to repeat their penalty shot heroics of last time. One thing you can guarantee with the Tigers, is they will work hard for the full 60 minutes and not let their heads drop. However with the shortened bench, and the Phoenix not taking them lightly this time, it was really only a matter of time before the Phoenix started scoring and shutting the game down. With the Phoenix going 5-1 up after the first period the result was a given, it would be down to how long the Tigers could keep going, and how much Tony asked the team to ease up. In the end the Phoenix won 9-2, not a surprising result given all the factors considered. Another mention for Andrew Sharp who continued his point scoring streak with another goal sunday night. It was going to be a tough game for the Tigers but, even with a full strength side I still think the Phoenix would have won.

A tough weekend for the Tigers, and no points gained, so chalk this one off and move forward. Hopefully the GB lad's will be back and with Tom Watkins back on the ice the Tigers should be back to winning way's soon. Another big weekend for the Tigers. They have an away game to the Swindon Wildcats and a home game versus the Guildford Flames!

The Tigers currently hold a 2-1 series lead against the Wildcats, however the game they lost, was the last away trip to the link center. It is still a winnable game for the Tigers but they must keep their heads up and get a few early goals in. In their series against the Flames the Tigers are 2-1 down. However the Tigers have a win and an overtime point from the Flames, so back on their own ice, this is also a winnable game! Looking at the extremes, this coming weekend really could be an all or nothing weekend for the Tigers!

Tigers Weekend Report

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Phoenix v Telford Tigers 12th December Game Review

Sunday's game was the second of the home weekend double header which saw the Phoenix welcome the Telford Tigers to Altrincham. An easy win for the Phoenix you would say? Not if the last visit of the Tigers to Altrincham was anything to go by! This is the same Telford side who pushed the Phoenix to penalties! So a win was not a forgone conclusion! However a number of things would not help the Tigers in this game. Much like the Phoenix last season, the Tigers had lost 3 players to GB duty including the influential Ashley Calvert. Plus, the Tigers had their player coach Tom Watkins ejected from their game against the Steeldogs the night before. Making a short bench even shorter, in fact the Tigers iced with just 14 players, and 12 skaters. The Phoenix would have to cut out the mistakes and play Telford hard, make them work so they tire towards the end of the game. The worry for Phoenix fans....after last nights epic battle against the Flames, would this game be a let down?

First Period: The opening twenty minutes put paid to any worries that the Phoenix would take the Tigers lightly! Constant pressure saw Declan Ryan working his behind off, and keeping his Tigers team in the game. Even so the amount of pressure being applied took its toll and by the end of the period the Phoenix were 5-1 up! The extra respect given, meant the Phoenix were being ruthless around the net. The first goal came after 7min 18sec when Curtis Huppe opened his account. The Tigers tied the game at 9min 02sec when Josh Bruce skated in to score, after a defensive lapse allowed him ample time on the back post to score. After 14min 30sec Tom Duggan scored, I was really chuffed he scored as Tom has been putting in some great performances in recent games. Ben Morgan made it 3 goals to 0 after 15min 36sec when he combined with Archer to score. Goal number 4 came at 16min 48sec when the Phoenix scored on a powerplay! Yes you read that right! Marcus Kristoffersson scoring, I was again pleased for him. As during the Guldford game and this first period, he had so many chances but kept finding a goalies pad or a post! The last goal of the period came to Stephen Wallace, scoring after 18min 51sec Wally rounded the net to slot the puck home.

Second Period: You would think this game was over even at this early stage. In some respect's it was, the Tigers were beginning to show the effects of the short bench, and the Phoenix D was really limiting the Tigers to long shots or scrappy efforts. With the lead at 5-1 Tony decided to give Adam Summerfield the rest of the game. Personally I was a little surprised and would have been happier seeing Adam take the whole of the third. But Adam is a quality goal keeper and deserves the opportunity! With the game all but won the Phoenix visibly eased up, I think Tony would have asked the squad not to go out and embarrass the opposition. Which Tony likes to do actually! As a result only one goal came in the period, scored by the Phoenix after 37min 01sec. Curtis Huppe getting his second of the night.

Third Period: The Tigers may have been exhausted but they did not quit. This is a characteristic of this Tigers team that they will not give up and let their heads drop. In fact the Tigers would score the first goal of the third period. At 45min 25sec Scott McKenzie would find some space and slot the puck home. Making the scores 6-2. James Archer, like Tom Duggan would score a goal and cap off a run of impressive performances for the Phoenix, Archer scoring after 50min 56sec. Furthering his reputation as a goal scoring machine, Andrew Sharp would get his 3rd goal in 3 games, and his 4th point in those games. After some scrappy play around the goal, Sharp would find himself clear on the back post as the puck squirted through to him, with a forceful shove, the puck went in! That goal coming at 52min 10sec. Prior to this Sharpie broke down the right wing and, I kid you not, showed great stickhandling and skill to deak a Telford defenceman to create a goal scoring opportunity! The final goal of the game, would also be Huppe's hatrick. In the dying seconds the puck broke to Huppe clear on the blue line, and he unleashed an absolute howitzer past Declan Ryan. Final score Phoenix 9 Telford 2.

Verdict: A combination of things lead to this scoreline I think! An impressive professional performance from the Phoenix, combined with a short Telford bench, meant it was really a matter of time before the Phoenix began to run up the scoreboard. The Tigers continue to impress with their grit and work ethic but, even with a full Tigers bench, I believe the Phoenix would have won this game by a couple. Just reward during this game for Duggan and Archer, further evidence of Sharpie's ability to play hockey and pleasing to see the points spread across the Phoenix roster. A potential banana skin avoided and a worthwhile 4 point weekend! Well done guys!

Attendance: An improvement over saturday night I would have said. So maybe around 900 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 9 Telford 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 9 Telford 2 - Tigers Article
Phoenix 9 Telford 2 - CB Sport Article

Monday, 13 December 2010

Phoenix v Guildford Flames 11th December Game Review

A rare home double header saw the Phoenix take on the Guildford Flames saturday night before welcoming the Telford Tigers to the Ice Dome sunday. The Flames came to the Ice Dome at the summit of the EPL table and holding a 2-1 series lead over the Phoenix. The last meeting between the two sides in Altrincham saw the Flames leave with a 4-3 victory becoming the first team to take regulation points from the Phoenix this season. This would be another tight game, and an absolute barn burner. With the Phoenix continuing their upwards turn in form the Phoenix would be in with a great chance of taking both points from the Flames.

First Period: Crikey it kicked off from the first puck drop, both teams going for it 100%! The Phoenix did enjoy most of the possession during the first period however their play in and around the goal was a little scrappy. Hala was in worryingly good form right from the off. You really need to get into him quick and get a goal past him to upset and get him off his game. Guilford did look very slick and smooth when in possession and the few chances they had, they did worry the Phoenix D. The only goal of the period was scored by the Guildford Flames after 4min 10sec. A mistake by the Phoenix in the offensive zone lead to a Flames 3 on 1, with Towe, Smital combining to set up Rempel for the first goal. Even going down to an early goal the Phoenix kept going and kept creating chances. Encouraging signs for the rest of the game.

Second Period: There must have been one or two home fans who wondered if this would be one of those nights for the Phoenix. Despite creating chance after chance, the Phoenix either found the post, found Hala in top form or the bounce just didnt work out. The Flames went 2-0 up after 31min 54sec, one of Ref Brown's many mistakes, a missed tripping penalty gave Guildford another odd man rush, leading to Rempel getting his second of the night. Phoenix heads did not drop and they guys kept plugging away and would finally get their reward. After an initial shot on Hala, Hala seemed to loose awareness of where the puck was only for Tony Hand to nip in and slot home the puck. The Phoenix goal coming at 33min 12sec. The talking point of the period/game came more or less at the end of the period. Kristoffersson was involved in an exchange of play with Lundin and Masa. My understanding is it went like this! Lundin tripped Kristoffersson, Kristoffersson cross-checked Masa and Masa attempted decapitation of Kristoffersson's head. I have not seen a more despicable/disgraceful act by an opposition player in the Ice Dome yet (I think!) Masa deliberately lifted his stick and attempted to hook Marcus round the neck. What did the in-effectual Mr Brown do to reward Masa? Yes, give him a two minute minor penalty! Utter disgrace! Masa should have been gone from the game with a match penalty at least! I do hope the EIHA review video evidence and ban the little ****!

Third Period: I really thought the Phoenix shifted up a gear in the third period and began to overcome the Flames. What happened next only underlines much of the guff that is spouted on many a hockey forum regarding Andrew Sharp. I firmly believe that 99% of the people condemning the signing have never seen Sharpie play a minute on the ice. The first goal of the period came 42min 08sec and yes, it was Sharpie who got it. Two goals in two games recently! After some great hard work from Greg Wood Sharp emerged with the puck to the side of Hala and put a superb backhanded shot past Hala. Well done Sharpie! The Flames re-took the lead on 51mins through Masa (who was lucky to be still on the ice). Despite the Flames taking the lead the Phoenix were still very much in the game. With 9mins to go, they had more than enough time to win this game. The Phoenix tied the game after 54min 32sec through defence man Harabin, though at times i do think he wants to be a forward! Just reward for the big guy who has put in a string of great performances! The Ice Dome erupted less than a minute later when the Phoenix took the lead, Curtis Huppe scoring the go ahead goal at 55min 44sec. The Phoenix withstood the Flames pressure for the last 5 minutes and a late penalty giving the Flames a man advantage for the last 90sec to hold on for a regulation win.

Verdict: What a game! A truly epic contest between the leagues best two squads. No fan could really have left the Ice Dome last night not having felt they had their money's worth! I really thought the Phoenix stepped up and, not only competed, but edged the Flames on the ice. They created more opportunities and stood up defensively to the Flames smooth play. A real stand out game for the Phoenix and a fully deserved win for the guys!

Attendance: As stated previously, saturday night's never produce the biggest of crowds. I would say there was a crowd of around 800 in the Ice Dome, and what an atmosphere they created! I would loved to have been outside the Ice Dome when the Phoenix scored! It would have sounded amazing!

Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - CB Sport Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - CB Sport Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - Guildford Article

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Fight Night

These pages will not often have EIHL content but recent event's in the league, I thought why the hell not!

Not sure if you will have seen but at this weeks Coventry Blaze v Nottingham Panthers game, there was, a little altercation:

Im sure some hockey was played too!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Telford Tigers Weekend 4/5th December

I think last time I posted about the Tigers I said their saturday game against Bracknell was an ideal opportunity for the Tigers to pick up some points, then the sunday game against the Bison would be a bit more difficult! I was nearly right!

Sadly it seemed a sickness bug would knock the stuffing out of the Tigers and prevent them paying at their best, and at a level that had brought some much needed pointage! The saturday game against the Bee's in Bracknell would still be their best opportunity for picking up a win. Despite their illness the Tigers still managed to get 2-0 by the third period. But, as I have mentioned in posts about the Phoenix playing the Bees, the Bees still have the quality to score. Saturday night was no exception, in the space of two minutes the Bees had levelled the game, sending it to OT. No further goals were scored sending the game to the penalty shootout lottery. It would be heartbreak for the Tigers again, as the Bees won the shootout for the extra point. Still a valuable point gained on the road!

Against the Bison the Tigers played hard and despite conceding the only goal of the first period, came back to tie the game in the second. The second period would see the Bison really shift through the gears and the Tigers ill health take it's toll. By the end of the session the Bison had raced to a 4-1 lead. The game finished 6-3 to the Bison, so no giant killing last sunday at the Telford Ice Rink. But given the Tigers went into the weekend not firing on all cylinders the Tigers could have been on the end of a much worse scoreline. Though I doubt many Tigers fans will agree, they would have seen that home game as a potential win.

Cant have a game without some controversy:

The Tigers now embark on a tough 3 game road trip against the Steeldog's, my Phoenix and the Wildcats. The first and last of those I see as potential win's for the Tigers. I know the Phoenix will not underestimate them like they did for the Tigers first visit to Altrincham!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Phoenix v Bracknell Bees 5th December Game Review

Saturday night's game in Slough was a close one for the Phoenix! Scores finished 1-1 after regulation and overtime so the extra point was decided on penalty shots. Sadly it sounds like the Phoenix attempts were poor and Slough won the shootout 2-0 giving the final score as 2-1 to Slough. While im disappointed with the loss im happy to get a point from a, usual, tough away game at the hangar. I'd certainly have taken the point if offered before hand!

Slough 2 Phoenix 1 - After Penalty Shots

Sunday nights home game against the Bees should be a simple two points for the Phoenix, but as a fair few results have shown, any team can beat any other team in this league! So a professional performance was required from the Phoenix. A hardy bunch of fans made the trip to Altrincham, braving freezing fog and a skating rink of a car park to watch the Phoenix take on the Bees.

First Period: It was clear from the early stages that the Phoenix would spend most of the time in possession of the puck and raining shots in on Marashi in the Bees net. Through a combination of excellent goaltending and less than sharp finishing the Phoenix struggled to find the first goal. Bracknell offered little in terms of offence, in fact most opportunities came from Phoenix defensive mistakes! The Phoenix third line shone early for me with both Tom Duggan and James Neil working very hard and creating a few chances. In fact I would go so far as to say, during the first period, the third was our best line. Sharp included! The eventual Phoenix first goal did come during the first twenty minutes, and it was the top line that scored it. After Tony Hand went coast to coast the first line clicked with some clinical passing around the Bees zone, Curtis Huppe putting the puck into the net after 16min 41sec. The scores ended 1-0 Phoenix.

Second Period: After scrabbling round the gear box during the first period, the second was where the Phoenix engaged gear and began to pull away. Harabin, who was on a mission in this game, showed off some lovely skill to score his first of the night five minutes into the period at 25min 39sec. By now the first line had shook off its early rustiness and really began to turn it on, Huppe scored his second of the night at 27min 04sec. even at this stage the game as a contest was over, the only variables would be: How many could the Phoenix get? Would Huppe get a hatrick? and would someone finally stand up to Andrew Sharp? No further goals came in the period despite the dominant display from the Phoenix.

Third Period: The Phoenix went through the gears in the final period and put the game to bed. Killing off the Bees attack the Phoenix were able to double their score in the last session and put the game beyond the Bees. Harabin stepped in from the wing and put a low shot on goal, which must have squeaked past Marashi's left pad into the goa. His second goal of the game coming after 44min 05sec. So far the Phoenix 4 goals all coming from the top line. Huppe's hatrick came under two minutes later. The Phoenix had the puck in the Bees zone and as the play began to break down the puck broke free at the top of the slot for Huppe, who swung his stick and buried it into the top corner. His hatrick goal coming at 46min 55sec. So, would that be the last goal of the game? Would Harabin get his hatrick? No and No to both questions! The Phoenix 6th and final goal came at 49min 04sec of the game, Harabin and Archer broke free, shorthanded, and went up the ice for Harabin to assist Archer in scoring. With the game now over, both teams played out the final 10mins with little incident.

Verdict: A potentially tricky game negotiated with ease. It was important to get the win and finish the weekend picking up three points. While the Flames also won, the Jets and Lightning faltered sunday allowing the Phoenix to open up a gap to those teams. Now the Phoenix have the dangerous Bison breathing on their necks! As for the game, as soon as the Phoenix went through the gears the game was over. The Bees have a good team, but too much talent is taken up in the first line. Once you shut Cesky and Pinc down you can deal easily with the Bees. But a win is a win, Huppe with a another hat full of goals, and Harabin with 4 points from the game. Who do you give man-of-the-match to? Hatrick Huppe? Shutout Fone? or Four point Harabin? In the end, it went to Harabin, and I doubt you would find many a Phoenix fan who would disagree. This game saw Harabin get some reward for a string of great games for the big man!

Attendance: A little disappointing for me, but I guess the cold, icy and snowy weather will have taken its toll. Plus we are now in December which is never a great month for attendances! I'd guess at maybe 7-800 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 6 Bracknell 0 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Bracknell 0 - CB Sport Article
Phoenix 6 Bracknell 0 - Bees Article

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Telford Tigers Weekend 27/28th November

If you remember from my Tigers weekend post of last week, the Tigers had a difficult pair of games against the league leading Guildford Flames. A pair of games that you would think should be a 4 pointer for the Flames. Most Tigers, and Phoenix fan's will know, the recent version of the Tigers is a much different team now. One that is much more difficult to breakdown and a hard working bunch.

Saturday night saw the Flames travel to Telford for a game, I thought, would offer the Tigers the best chance of getting some points over the weekend. In fact the Tigers made just the start they needed scoring after just 35seconds! That early goal can help to unsettle the away team and introduce some doubt in their minds. Unfortunately it didn't look like the Flames would get unsettled racing to a 3-1 lead. Game over you would have thought? The Tigers kept it close and coach Tom Watkins closed the game to within one at the 58min 12sec mark, squeaky bum time! As many a hockey fan will know, one goal needed, less than two minutes to go, the game will go one of two ways. A game tieing goal and the home rink erupts, or heartbreak! Sadly for the Tigers it was the latter, but both the team and fans can be proud they pushed the Flames all the way and gave them a fright and a half!

All back to Guildford sunday then! Re-match time! The previous nights game will have given the Tigers such a boost and reminded the Flames they are no pushovers. It sounds like another close games was had between the two sides. Trading goals the Tigers pushed the Flames all the way, in fact leading the game until the last few minutes. A point secured! But the Tigers wanted more, after pushing the Phoenix all the way to OT/Penalties and loosing, this time they wanted both points! Up stepped Tom Watkins again to score the vital goal 3 minutes into the overtime period, securing the win for the Tigers. Along the way the Tigers are gaining fan's, I know many fellow Phoenix fan's love what the Tigers are showing, and judging by comments on THF, Guildford fans are the same.

Im sure some fans are happy with 2 points from a weekend pair of games against the Flames, but im sure most will could have been 3 or 4 points! Being so close to getting the home win as well! A pair of games to be proud of for me! Let's hope the form continues, except for when the Tigers meet the Phoenix of course!

Tigers v Flames Weekend double header.

Game Winning Goal:

Next up for the Tigers is an away game to the Bees and a home game to the Bison. The Bracknell game is winnable for the Tigers and one they should if they want a playoff spot. The Bison will be a tougher nut to crack, they work very hard, are skillful and physical. Much luck to Telford this weekend then!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Sheffield Steeldogs v Manchester Phoenix 28th November Game Review

Yes The Angry Budgie went on tour and braved the snowy hills of the pennines to make the trip across for Sunday night's away game to the Sheffield Steeldogs. To be fair the roads were absolutely fine! Like Swindon the night before this would not be a walkover. Especially after the Steeldogs had brought in some re-enforcements in the form of ex Hull man Kriss Grundmanis and ex Phoenix hard man Andre Payette. Sadly Payette's ITC registration was not processed in time preventing him suiting up against his ex team and teammates. So with a large away following almost outnumbering the home support, and a fair few Steeler shirts in attendance, The Angry Budgie settled down in seats up against the plexi (for the first time in years I might add!) for sunday nights EPL and Cup game against the Steeldogs.

First Period: All our games against the Steeldogs have followed the same sort of patter, with the Phoenix clearly on top but Ben Bowns constantly frustrating the Phoenix attack. This lad is a fine goaltender and one who is destined to play at a high level. He really is a credit the Sheffield set up. Sunday night's game saw him face plenty of shot's and it took the Phoenix 8min's to find a breakthrough. The Phoenix first line clicking once again, carrying on from where they left off saturday night! Tony Hand getting in on the action scoring the Phoenix first goal, assisted by Curtis Huppe. Curtis and Tony would swap roles just a minute and a half later, when Huppe scored on the powerplay at 9min 32sec. No further goals came in the second period, despite the Phoenix enjoying the vast majority of possession. It did surprise me how little the Steeldogs offered in terms of attacking effort!

Second Period: The second session picked up where the first ended, the Phoenix creating many many chances but coming up against a determined Bowns in goal. The Phoenix defence was also on its game sunday night limiting the Steeldogs to long shots and very few close in opportunities on Steve Fone, who, again, was having a cracking game. He must have been seeing the puck twice its size! The first line combined for a third time in the night scoring 11sec into the second period. This time Kristoffersson getting his name on the scoresheet. The Phoenix began to ease up and Tony even called a surprise time out half way through the period to remind the team of their responsibilities and to remain focused.

Third Period: With the lack of home support and a game pretty much decided the third was a little disappointing in terms of atmosphere. But the game continue as the previous 40mins had! Constant Phoenix pressure, even with the Phoenix visibly easing up the intensity. I cannot remember many stand out moments but the Phoenix did make it 4-0 after 53min 09sec when Stephen Wallace scored against his old club. The Phoenix closed out the game, and Steve Fone got a shutout, which was just reward for his excellent play during the game.

Verdict: A potential banana skin avoided, and a shame that Payette could not face the Phoenix. But a win was needed, and the Phoenix proved too much for the Steeldogs. In the end it was pretty easy for the Phoenix, but you still have to beat the team that is put out on the ice before you! It was always about the two points though, with the win the Phoenix now finish top of the Cup table which gives them home advantage for the two-legged semi-final and, should they make it, the final too! The game also saw the ongoing development of Andrew Sharp, he worked hard again, positioned himself well on the ice, and even got a few chances himself! Despite the poor atmosphere, big thumbs up to the pre-game warm up tunage, we rocked out to two Airbourne songs, a QOTSA song, Foos and some Metallica! Get in! At the end of the game, both sides took part in what has to be the longest handshake I've seen, with some many ex teammates and former Scimitar's players it seemed ever player wanted a quick catch up before moving on!

Attendance: As per the Steeldog's match report, attendance was 570, I wouldn't be surprised if around 200 of them were Phoenix fans!

Steeldogs 0 Phoenix 4 - Phoenix Article
Steeldogs 0 Phoenix 4 - CB Sport Article
Steeldogs 0 Phoenix 4 - Steeldogs Article

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Phoenix v Swindon Wildcats 27th November Game Review

A saturday night home game kicked off the weekend for the Phoenix, and a cold night at the Dome welcomed the fans and the first visit of the Swindon Wildcats to Altrincham. Despite the differing league positions the arrival of the Wildcats could not be taken lightly, as the Wildcats were the first team to take points from the Phoenix this season. Encouragingly for the home fan's the past couple of games had seen an improvement in form from the Phoenix.

First Period: The Phoenix began brightly and were keep to show they could deal with a potentially difficult Swindon team. Early pressure was applied but the Phoenix found James Hadfield in goal on fine form. In fact had it not been for Hadfield it could have been a cricket score. Even so the Phoenix had to wait until 6min 07sec before their first goal was scored. Marcus Kristoffersson scored a superb shorthanded goal to get the ball rolling. The Phoenix piled on the pressure and Curtis Huppe broke his dry spell at 17min 17sec getting his first of the night. Before the first period was done James Archer would score his first of the night and a superb solo goal it was. Coming 90sec before the end of the period at 18min 31sec. Steve Fone even got in on that goal with an assist!

Second Period: With Swindon visibly giving up the Phoenix really turned the screw in the second period, and started to convert their chances more regularly. Tom Duggan capped a sting of impressive performances with a goal after 22min 42sec. A minute later Curtis Huppe got his second of the night at 23min 50sec, and then scored his well earned hatrick goal at 26min 44sec. The player's and fan's erupting with delight now the scoring machine had found his shooting boots once more. With five minutes to go in the period, the Phoenix also changed netminders, with Adam Summerfield coming on for a good workout. Swindon would show some life in the game when Josef Liska got their first, and a well worked goal at 28min 26sec. Just 13sec later Huppe got his fourth goal of the game at 28min 39sec capping an explosive period from the Phoenix, and one that crushed any hope of points for Swindon.

Third Period: With the game over as a contest the third period was a bit flat, with Swindon deflated, the Phoenix just needed to close out the game. James Archer got the first goal of the period picking up the puck in the Phoenix zone, skating the length of the ice holding off a Swindon defenceman and backhanding the puck into the goal at 49mi 13 sec. The Phoenix ninth goal came from Kristoffersson at 53min 39 sec. The first line having a great evening with a total of 17points between them. Not to be outdone the Wildcats popped a few goals past Adam Summerfield before the end of the game, Josef Liska proving to be a thorn in the Phoenix side, got his second at 56min 10sec. The final goal coming at 57min 22sec through Matt Foord.

Verdict: A potentially tricky game against a hard working Swindon Wildcats in the end turned out to be a bit easy for the Phoenix in the end. I think this was more down to the improving performance from the Phoenix. As mentioned Swindon were the first team to upset the Phoenix this season, and James Hadfield stood on his head during the game, he just didnt have much of a team in front of him. A pleasing win for the team, and fans, it was encouraging to see the Phoenix creating many chances, and putting them away with some clinical finishing.

Attendance: Saturday night games never produce a big crowd for the Phoenix, last saturday was no different, I would say around 800 in the Dome.

Phoenix 9 Swindon 3 - CB Sport Article
Phoenix 9 Swindon 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 9 Swindon 3 - Wildcats Article

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Telford Tigers Weekend 20/21st November

As mentioned in my Tigers weekend post last week, this weekend just gone was a big one for the Tigers. A weekend double header against fellow stragglers the Bracknell Bee's. The Tigers recent run of form has many fans, myself included, wondering how they struggled early on. In fact since taking a point from the shootout loss in Altrincham, the Tigers have been playing very hard and upsetting a few expectations. Picking up valuable points along the way.

A double against the Bee's would also give them a chance of their first four point weekend of the season. But it would not be easy as the Bee's are a good side, and when Pinc and Cesky are on top form, they can be devastating.

The first game down in the hive looks to have been a tighter game than the scoreline suggests, but the fate of the game hinged on a mass brawl in the second period. By the sounds of things it involved a bench clearance and both goalies, so I hope there is some youtube footage of that out on the Internet! In the end the Tigers skated out to a 7 - 3 victory and two valuable points taken from the opposition.

All back to Telford then? Ok! The second fixture of the double header saw a larger crowd come to Telford Ice Rink, for what could be a tasty game. With the Tigers looking to get a win on home ice, and the Bees looking for revenge! It sounds like the Bees really went for it in this game, and Martin Clarckson in the Tigers goal living somewhat of a charmed life. Using his head to make a save at one point! The Bees must have wondered what they needed to do to score, after hitting the post on three occasions! Despite this the Tigers held on for a 5 - 3 victory to complete an excellent 4 point weekend. Ashley Calvert, playing against his old club picked up the man of the match award!

Telford Tigers Video Highlights:

Telford Tigers Weekend Report
Bracknell 3 Telford 7
Telford 5 Bracknell 3

So well done Telford, a great weekend for you! Next up for the Tigers are a home an away series against the Guildford Flames. I do think the Flames will be too strong for the Tigers and will do the double over Telford. However I do think the Tigers have enough to get a point, or a couple from the weekend! I hope to be proved wrong, as any points the Tigers take from Guildford will aid the Phoenix at the top of the table. So.....prove me wrong Telford!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Phoenix v Peterborough Phantoms 22nd November Game Review

Sorry everyone for the delay in posting this game review, to be honest I completely forgot to write it yesterday! Nevermind!

The past weekend was an important one for the Phoenix, and a much talked about one throughout the league. As you good readers may well know the Phoenix have been on a bit of a poor run recently, which when you look at the run of games has not included too many losses, but the form has been poor. Opinion across most of the Phoenix support has put this down to our short bench finally catching up and taking it's toll, plus a few cheap shots really hurting the Phoenix. In fact the Phoenix had played two games without the services of Harabin after a nasty slash from Nicky Chinn.

To rectify this Tony secured the services of Andrew Sharp, a player who polarizes opinion in UK hockey. My opinions on which I have covered in a previous post!

So this weekend saw the Phoenix travel down to Guildford for a top of the table clash at the Spectrum library. Sadly for the Phoenix it was a loss, but reports from the game say the Phoenix were beaten by a better team on the day. An improved performance but still not back to our best. Andrew Sharp played well by all accounts, and served a purpose as a third line winger. So not a massive disaster as some had predicted.

Guilford 5 Phoenix 1 - CB Sport Article

Sunday nights game against the Phantoms would see the side from Peterborough make their first visit to Altrincham this season. The only previous meeting between the two sides saw the Phoenix win 6-2 in Peterborough. The game would also allow the Phoenix crowd their first glimpses of Andrew Sharp in the Phoenix jersey. So alot was riding on this game, the Phoenix had to get back to winning ways since loosing top spot to Guildford the night before. The Phoenix should win home games against Peterborough, but they have a well drilled defensive unit and a superb goalie in Stephen Wall. A win would be no easy task!

First Period: The game began with the Phoenix looking to establish themselves early in the game. The improvement in form was clear to see, not back to our best, but much better than recent games have shown. The Phoenix were playing hard and creating chances. However they did look a little labored at times, and Peterborough were able to carve out a few odd man rushes. Thankfully Steven Fone was in top form and turned away all chances in the first period. The Phoenix would score the only goal of the period after 12min 57sec. Tom Duggan was rewarded for a couple of real hard working shift's when he picked up the puck behind the goal for a quick wrap around goal. The goal was a fine reward for the third line who had put in some hard work on their shifts. Andrew Sharp showing some great positioning on the ice, and was unlucky himself when he got a sight of goal. In fact had Tom not scored, Andrew would have!

Second Period: The start of the second period would see a quick exchange of goals. The Phoenix were not able to hold onto their lead for long, as Peterborough scored just 46sec into the period. Maris Ziedins scoring through the five hold to bring Peterborough level. Then after 32min exactly, as so often he does, Tony took the game by the scruff of the next and thought 'enough is enough' and scored a superb goal assisted by Kristoffersson. Phoenix looked to then press home the advantage when Tony scored again just 31sec later at 32min 31sec. Peterborough then scored to keep themselves in contention roughly a minute later at 34min 20sec through Joe Miller. A hectic opening 5 minutes there saw the Phoenix 3-2 up. The rest of the period calmed down and the pattern of play continued much like the first. With the Phoenix creating the majority of the chances, while limiting Peterborough to a few odd man rushes.

Third Period: The third period was not quite as intense as the previous two as both teams cancelled each other out. The only goal of the game came towards the end of the game after 57min 08sec when Kristoffersson scored his only goal of the game. I cant think of anything else of note that happened during the third period, the Phoenix continued to play well but not their best!

Verdict: So the much talked about debut of Andrew Sharp happened, and I know it is only one game at home, but I think alot of people have been proved wrong. The lad can skate, and he has a good hockey brain. Obviously that is said after just one game. It will be better to take stock after christmas to decide if he is a liability or an asset! As for the Phoenix, it was a welcome return to some form, not back to our early season blistering hockey, but a continued step in the right direction! Peterborough are a tough team to beat, ive always thought you have to get a goal past Stephen Wall quickly, otherwise he can become unbeatable!

Attendance: Not the biggest crowd of the season, but recent results may have had an effect. Still, there was probably around 850 in the Ice Dome.

Next up for the Phoenix is a rare saturday home game to the Swindon Wildcats and an away trip to Sheffield. The Angry Budgie will be in attendance at both games. So next week should see both home and away games reviewed. Its an ideal weekend for the Phoenix to continue their improvement. So fingers crossed!

Phoenix 4 - Peterborough 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 - Peterborough 2 - CB Sport Article
CB Sport Interview with Andrew Sharp

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Inside the M60

This post has been a little while in the making!
A month or so ago James Gordon (, a fellow Phoenix fan asked me to put some thoughts down regarding watching hockey in Manchester. From the days of the sold out arena's to the Phoenix now resting in Altrincham. Plus my thoughts as to where those fans have gone and what can be done to bring them back. Now this was alot of fun for me as it enable me to think back through my years of watching hockey, and the highs and lows of supporting ice hockey in and around Manchester.

James contributes to a website called: Inside the M60 and my comments were to form the basis of the article. Anyway the article is now live on the site and here is the link, Out of the storm comes a Phoenix.

So have a read, and all the other Phoenix articles on the site and let me know your thoughts!

The second part of today's post was to do with the layout of this blog. As you can see the style has changed, and there is a background picture. I remember when I started this blog I wanted to get a picture of the Ice Dome with a full crowd to use as the backdrop to the blog. The picture you see behind these words was taken by Lauren Freeman who takes so, frankly, excellent pictures of the Phoenix at the Ice Dome. She can be followed on twitter at: and he pictures can be found on flickr at, Cold as Ice.

So many thanks and copyright to Lauren for the background picture! It may stay, or a new one may take its place! We will see!

Finally, there may be a new blog for you all to follow. I'll tweet/post a link if it gets set up!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Telford Tigers Weekend 13/14th November

So a day late but I have finally got round to looking at the Tigers performance last weekend. A real weekend of two halves, saturday saw the Tigers travel to Slough and then entertain the Swindon Wildcats at Telford Ice Rink on sunday. I don't think many fans out there thought the Tigers would take anything from the hangar and, sadly, they didn't coming away with a 6-1 loss. Even so it sounds like the Tigers played hard and kept it a close game for the majority, only being down 3-1 going into the final session. The damage was done during a period of mistakes from Telford, and Slough were able to capitalize. Against the top sides Telford need to make sure they don't make mistakes as they will get punished.

Anyway, for the Tigers, sunday was really going to offer the best chance of getting some points from the weekend, as they welcomed the Swindon Wildcats to Telford. I believe the Tigers first win of the season also came against Swindon. With the return of Ashley Calvert to the line up the Tigers were revved up from the first puck drop. A better defensive display from the Tigers and Martin in goal standing on his head gave a good base for the Tigers to work from. It showed to, going ahead and never loosing the lead the Tigers closed out an excellent 4-2 win.

Shropshire Star Highlights:

Telford Tigers weekend reports.

With the OT loss point picked up in Manchester and this win picked up last weekend the Tigers are building some nice momentum here. This weekend coming offers a great opportunity to keep that roll going. The Tigers have a home/away set with the Bracknell Bees. The Tigers have an opportunity to skate away with a 4 point weekend here, for me a great weekend for the Tigers would be a point from the away game and a home win. It's weekends like these that give Telford the chance to open up a little room between the bottom few clubs in search of that playoff berth. If the Tigers play hard again I can see a 4 point weekend happening, at worst both clubs will split the series.

So good luck Telford, this is a great opportunity for you!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Andrew Sharp lands in Altrincham

So this week I wanted to post my Telford weekend review and a post on a couple of links. Today's news has, however, taken over somewhat. The Manchester Phoenix have signed Andrew Sharp! Shortwaves have fanned out through UK hockey, and fans across the country have wade into the debate. Mostly negative I get the impression!

The general feeling is, how could Tony Hand, the greatest British hockey player to have skated the ice, sign such a knuckle dragger. Personally I would say, if there is one person who could tempt a hockey player out of is Tony Hand. I fear hockey fans, including the majority of the Phoenix support are forgetting what Tony has done with Clouthier and Payette in previous seasons. I want to make it clear that I am now Andrew Sharp appreciation society, im willing to give the guy a chance to prove himself in a Phoenix shirt. Im just surprised by the level of hatred (yes I went there) this signing has provoked. I know he is no angel, but seriously, he's not played a minute on the ice for the Phoenix yet! He could be crap, but he could be exactly what we need! Why not give him a few games before deciding on him.

The signing has prompted alot of chat on twitter/forums from opposing EPL teams, all of which is negative and going along the lines of, he is a goon and can't skate or do anything. If he is a goon, he is as much of a goon as the Greener brothers, Nicky Chinn, Mr Wiggins, Ryan or Nicky Watt.

For me Richard Allen on the Phoenix forum summed it up perfectly for me:

'When we signed Brett Clouthier we were signing a player who'd been let go by the Steelers who was being looked into for an alleged 'eye gouging' incident and was know for being something of a 'knuckle-dragger', and he went on to become a Phoenix legend who is much loved by the fan base.

When we signed Andre Payette we were signing a player who was routinely booed by the opposition, branded as nothing more than a 'donkey', and he went on to become a Phoenix legend who is much loved by the fan base.

We've now signed Andrew Sharp, a played whose reputation has preceded him to the tune of seventeen pages on the forum, and whose actions in a Phoenix jersey will decide how the fan base responds to him'

Apart from Payette probably being a fan favorite rather than a legend, I agree with Richard there, Tony has proved he can handle a player with a reputation, and he would not have signed Andrew without thinking it through fully. On that basis im willing to trust in Tony/Neil and give Andrew the benefit of the doubt. I will reserve judgement until I have seen him play a few games. I would strongly urge my fellow Phoenix fan's to do the same! Facebook pages have been set up in protest and for those of you who are thinking about not attending games as a result of this signing.....are you serious? One player on a squad of 17 is making you think about not attending another Phoenix game....? Overreaction much?

Though I will admit, his picture on the official Phoenix article does make him look like a bit of a lunatic!

One thing is for certain, its a polarising signing and one that has created so much talk about the Phoenix and hockey in the UK. This weekend, and especially sunday's game, has to be one of the most anticipated weekends in a while!

Announcement from the official Phoenix site