So last weekend was the final weekend of the EPL regular season, and in my weekend preview post I had predicted the Phoenix would get a four point weekend. Well saturday night saw three upsets! All three teams in the Race for Third lost! The Flames going down to the Peterborough Phantoms, the Bison to MK Lightning and the Phoenix away to the Swindon Wildcats.
In fact the Phoenix got absolutely hammered, 10-2, in what was, to quote Tony Hand:
"To say I am extremely disappointed tonight is a massive understatement. We defended poorly, gave up too many rebounds and loose pucks and without taking anything away from Swindon, we gifted them at least six goals. I want to say sorry to all the supporters who travelled a long way today, we've let them down badly tonight."
The above taken from the Manchester Phoenix site.
By all accounts the Phoenix totally bombed, not exactly the time you want your team to turn in a dire performance. This made the trip to the Ice Dome sunday a little more nerve wracking! Even though the Phoenix were 100% against the Bees, the most recent game saw the Bees cause the Phoenix a few issues, and in Dumas/Cesky and Pinch the Bees have some star forwards! In fact Cesky had been recently given the best forward in th EPL award!
A further issue to complicate things for this game, was the Bees bus deciding to break down en-route to Manchester. Meaning the large crowd in attendance was kept waiting just under 2hrs for face off. Anyway, on to the game.....!
First Period: When games have been delayed before the Phoenix have looked flat at the opening faceoff. But this time the Bees looked like their minds were still on the bus. The Phoenix came out flying and hit the Bees straight away. Scoring twice in the first 2 minutes. Ian Bowie scoring even handed, and possibly the Phoenix quickest goal to date, after just 26sec. Adam Walker doubled their lead, when both teams had a man in the box, making it 4 on 4 out on the ice. The Phoenix pressure continued and the Bees were rattled and not quite sure what to do. The Phoenix third goal came after 9min 47sec when Adam Walker got his second of the night. First period scoring was rounded up after 16min 23sec when Jaakko Hagelberg made it 4-0 on the PP. Those Phoenix fans in attendance over the moon, and sensing the game was already over.
Second Period: The Bees would come out and score the first goal of this period, at 22min 39sec through Ashley Calvert. The next goal would decide the course of the game, if it were the Bees, the pressure was on, if not, game over! Thankfully it was the Phoenix who scored next. After 26min 41sec Stephen Wallace scored un-assisted. Bees heads had truly fallen by this stage, and the Phoenix lay siege to the Bees net. Tony Hand would take a shot and finish the scoring in the second with just 16sec left in the period.
Third Period: With the game effectively won, the Phoenix just had to close out the game and not take any stupid penalties. Which, to be fair to him, Cesky was trying to draw out of the Phoenix! Adam Walker would complete his hatrick after 35min 37sec to make the scores 8-1. Mattsson would cap an impressive performance by scoring after 44min 11sec. And Adam would get his fourth to cap a fantastic Phoenix performance, scoring after 53min 06sec.
Verdict: A game that could have been very tricky and quite a tetchy one, turned out to be a bit of a one horse race. Sadly the Bees transport troubles really affected the game. In the end the Phoenix superior quality shone through. A real highlight was Adam Walker getting his 50th goal of the season. He is a player who has developed so well in this 2009/10 season, I would not be surprised if a few EIHL teams came a nocking! The Phoenix also proved saturday night in Swindon was a blip, this performance was a back to there best classic! A great crowd in the Dome for the least league game of the season, buyoed by at least 300 scouts made for an excellent atmosphere! With this win the Phoenix secure 3rd place and a playoff series with the Peterborough Phantoms.
Attendance: Another biggie, I would say 1,526 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix TV Highlights:
Phoenix 10 Bees 1 Phoenix Article
Phoenix 10 Bees 1 MEN Article