The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

What a game!

So I watched game 6 of the Canadiens vs Capitals series, and what a game! What an atmosphere, the Bell Centre, that building is seriously impressive!

Watch these highlights:

With that win the Canadiens have forced a game 7 back in Washington!

Tonight also see's game 7 in the Yote's/Wings series back in the desert, I really hope Phoenix win!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

.....and pause!

Sorry for the lack of activity on these pages over the past week or so.....I have a busy time at work coming up and no real hockey news to talk about. Just lots and lots of rumour at the moment!

I am glad to see David Beauregard back on these shores, even if he is playing for the Panthers. I could be tempted to get to the NIC just to watch him, but then again ill probably couldn't be bothered!

Anyway I am thinking about the next few blog posts which will mainly involve a season review of the Phoenix squad. The net minders first, followed by the defence then offence. After all that a general Phoenix season review and a few musings on our debut EPL season. I will of course be ignoring comments such as these.

So take care everyone, and keep your eye out for any hockey news!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

EPL Playoff Finals Weekend - Coventry

So last weekend saw EPl fans from across the country descend upon Coventry for the 2009/10 season finale. This would be the Bison and Phoenix fans first visit to the Sky Dome for the showpiece event. Luckily for the Phoenix faithful their team were to come along for the festivities too, having overcome the Peterborough Phantoms. Bison fans, unfortunately had no team to support, having been knocked out by the Guildford Flames. Despite this fans of the other ex EIHL team turned out in force and filled a block next to the Phoenix fans. Themselves filling three blocks and having the largest fan base at the finals. In fact the Phoenix had pretty much all four block's you see in the above picture!

Not bad for first time visitors!The first semi-final saw Lightning slayers Swindon take on the Guildford Flames. An obvious candidate for a walkover, but lest we forget who the Wildcats knocked out to get to Coventry! The Phoenix would be up next in the evening semi against the Slough Jets. A team who have had the better of the Phoenix over the course of the season!

Semi Final 1 - Swindon v Guildford
This semi final had the potential for a surprise! Sadly the team that knocked out the Lightning did not turn up. The Flames totally dominated this game, the extra skill on the Guildford bench pinning the Wildcats into their own zone for most of the game. Swindon, despite having the support of most of the arena, could not get through centre ice. Resorting to icing the puck and trying to help Douglass out in the Swindon goal. On a separate note, what a goaltender! He single handedly kept the Wildcats in the game. So despite the early optimism held by fans other than Flames fans, Swindon could not pull off another shock and the Flames won through to the final with a 5-2 victory.

Semi Final 2 - Slough v Manchester

This was the moment Phoenix fans had long waited for. The appearance of a team from Manchester at a league playoff finals weekend. The test for the Phoenix the Slough Jets. It would take nothing but the best from the Phoenix to play Guildford in the final. The Phoenix made a great start and more than held their own against the Jets. The Phoenix even took the lead, sending most of the arena into delirium. The Jets did, however, continue to press the Phoenix, Blaz Emersic tormenting the Phoenix defence. Stephen Fone was called into action and was standing on his head. Sadly for the Phoenix the Jets would take the lead over the course of the game, with that man Emersic doing the damage. In the end the Jets won 2-1, however the Phoenix had more than held their own. I don't think you could find one Phoenix fan who was not proud of their team!

EPL Playoff Final - Slough v Guildford
The irresistible force meets the immovable object, and the final no one, other than Flames/Jets fans really wanted. The Final would be a tense affair for two sets of fans, and a tad boring for the rest! The Flames had all the attacking flair, however just could not break down the well organised defence of the Slough Jets. Chances were limited, and even when a chance did appear Lee and Rockman in the goals were in outstanding form. The game was 1-1 heading into overtime after a very close 60minutes of play. In the period of overtime, the Jets were presented with a gold opportunity to win the game. Greener was sent clean through on Lee, when he was brought down by the Flames defence. Penalty shot! A perfectly valid one, despite what any Flames fan will tell you! Blaz Emersic, that man again! Stepped up and took a wonderful penalty shot! Shelving the puck past Lee to win the cup for the Jets. Final score 2-1 after overtime.

What happened next was a little unsavoury. As the goal light lit, the Flames team immediately skated over and started abusing the referee. This was totally uncalled for, it was a perfectly legal call by the referee! Even us Phoenix fans at the far end of the arena could tell it was a penalty shot! Sadly some Flames fans were no better! With the Slough coach over at their bench, there were a fair few unsavoury gestures aimed in his direction! Along with a few bottles too! I know the Slough coach is not totally blameless, however Hockey prides itself on being a family friendly sport, and the actions of a few tarred the Flames support in general!

Anyway, a great weekend was had by us Phoenix fans and im sure the Phoenix will be back in 2011 in the final! This team have come so far, and if you had offered me, 3rd place, a Cup Semi-final and a Playoff Final weekend appearance, I would have taken your arm off!

Well done Phoenix and well done Phoenix fans!

Ive added a few pictures below, just some of my favourites from the weekend.

Various Phoenix banners:

Thursday, 8 April 2010

EPL 2009/10 Season Playoff Final's Preview

Well well well well well!!!!

Do you remember my playoff quarter final weekend preview post? I'll claim a 50% success rate is pretty darn good!
My predicted winners from last weekend's games were:

Milton Keynes Lightning
Slough Jets
Manchester Phoenix
Basingstoke Bison

Thankfully the Phoenix managed to see off the Peterborough Phantoms, so the only other team I got correct was the Slough Jets!
Of the other two games, one was a shoick and the other less so! Anyway here's a quick look see at the results from the Quarter Finals!

MK vs Swindon (Swindon win 10-8 on aggregate)
What a shocker! I think the vast majority of fans (excluding those Swindon fan's) thought the Lightning would see off the Wildcats. While I thought the Cats could do it, i'll admit to not really thinking they could! Especially after the Lightning came away from the first leg with a 3-3 tie, so, like the Phoenix it was all hanging on their home game in the thunderdome. But you could argue, because of that fact, a tie could go either way. Its one game, one game either team can win. From all that I have read, MK did not really turn up to play at their usual best, and in playoff hockey, that is not good enough! Swindon are in some good form at the moment, while MK have eased off since winning the league. In a way im glad the Phoenix will not be playing the Wildcats in the semi-finals!

Slough v Sheffield (Slough win 7-2 on aggregate)
This one was less of a shock, the Scimitar's form heading into the playoffs really didnt show they were going to cause an upset. Which was a real shame, every visit of the Scimitar's to the Ice Dome has seen some fast paced and free flowing hockey from both teams. However it seems the Scims really ran out of juice! So in the end, a fairly routine pair of wins for the Jets.

Manchester v Peterborough (Manchester win 6-5 on aggregate)
Phew what a corker, after a tense first leg which ended 3-3 in Peterborough it all headed back to the Ice Dome for a winner takes all game, much like the MK v Swindon game. 60 minutes to earn the right to go to Coventry. I didnt go to the away leg, but I believe Matt & Becky off of Five Minute Major did. So you may see a review of that game on their pages some time soon. The home leg at the Dome was a corker! You can read all about it in my previous game review post. What an atmosphere, the Ice Dome really is becoming a great rink for a fantastic night of hockey. In the end, and Phoenix tinted specs off, the Phoenix did deserve to win. Thus ending 6 odd years of finals weekend disappointment for Phoenix fans!!!! If you want to hear/see what it meant to the team and the fans, take a look at the video in this posting just a couple of days ago!

Guildford v Basingstoke (Guildford win 8-2 on aggregate)
How wrong could I have been, I picked this tie to be the tightest and most difficult to predict! But Guildford well and truly blew that out of the water after the first leg in Basingstoke, with a 6-0 win. So in front of a sell out crowd, the Flames tied the game 2-2 with Basingstoke salvaging some pride. This gives the Flames a playoff semi-final against the Swindon Wildcats. Not as easy as you may think for the Flames, given they dumped MK out, and beat the Phoenix 10-2 in the final weekend of regular season play!

So anyway, that was playoff Quarter Final time, this is Playoff Semi Final time!!!!

Semia Final 1 - Guildford Flames v Swindon Wildcats (Head to head, Guildford with 5 wins, Swindon with 1)
Not the forgone conclusion you would have thought, 4th plays 8th, Giant plays GIant Killer.......again any more?
The season head to head is heavily in the Flames favour, but the same could have been said for the Cats against MK, and look what happened there! League form and results really does go out of the window come playoff time. Swindon really will have the underdog tag in this game, and, probably, the support of nearly everyone in the SkyDome come saturday. As for the game, it will be tense, and the first period will be key. The Flames have the ability to kill off the game early on, but if it is still tight after the opening 20mins the Wildcats could well do it. The heart wants the Wildcats fairy tail story to continue, but the head cannot see past the Flames advancing. Ive been critical of their inconstancy in recent games, however the Bison quarter final really blew away those cobwebs.
Prediction: Flames to make it to the final.

Semi Final 2 - Slough Jets v Manchester Phoenix (Head to head, Slough with 5 wins, Manchester with 1)
Set up to be a great game, against the Jets the Phoenix have played a good game, just never really got the puck in the net. The problem the Phoenix have had has been shutting the top line of the Jets down. Messers Emersic et al. The time we did do that, on the last visit to the hangar in Slough, the Phoenix got the win, and made the Jets look ordinary. The same can be said for this semi-final, if the Phoenix can look after that top line I can see the Phoenix making it to the final. Plus, I think the tougher opposition in the Phantoms the Phoenix had will stand them on good ground. The Phoenix had to be sharp and work hard, which they will against the Jets. It will be tough for the Phoenix, but they can do it!
Prediction: Phoenix to make it to the final!

I won't bother with an indepth prediction of how the final will go, but I will give a quick one line prediction based on the various final possibilities:

Final 1 - Slough - Guildford: Guildford to win.
Final 2 - Slough - Swindon: Slough to win.
Final 3 - Manchester - Guildford: Heart says Phoenix, head says Guidlford
Final 4 - Manchester - Swindon: Manchester to win.
Final 5 - Swindon - Slough: Slough to win.

So there you have it, the first EPL finals weekend preview on these pages!
Keep an eye on the twitter feed as, battery permitting, I will be tweeting from Coventry. Also keep an eye on all the other hockey blogs for various types of coverage. Plus the Phoenix podcast will be coming, as-live, from the weekend including an EPL fan's forum type set up, which should be interesting!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Tiger Tracks

As you may be aware I have, in the past, been covering the return of the Telford Tigers to the EPL. I have a soft spot for the Tigers, as I hold many a fond memory of playing junior hockey in Telford for the various Trafford/Altrincham junior teams.

Anyway, back in this post, I mentioned that the Tigers supporters had decided to set up a trust to run the club. This is now gathering pace, and the Tigers are now accepting members to join the Tiger Tracks supporters trust. This costs the grand total of £10!

So why not head over to the Tigers website and join up! Its only a tenner, and will help the Tigers return to the EPL. I had hoped to have the pdf application form on these pages for you to download, but it seems you cannot upload files. So if anyone out there in readerland knows how to, can you email The Angry Budgie please?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Phoenix v Peterborough Phantoms 04th April Game Review

Last sunday saw the Phantoms come to the Ice Dome for the second leg of the EPL Playoff Quarter Final tie. It was all set up to be a tense game, after the first leg in Peterborough ended in a 3-3 tie. Personally I would have taken a draw, im only slightly disappointed to find out the Phoenix lead 3-1 at the beginning of the third period! Anyway the game at the Ice Dome saw a large crowd turn up, and the early atmosphere was electric, even before the first face off.

Firs Period: As typical in playoff hockey, the pace was fast, the game was skill full, the crowd were biting their nails! The Phantoms league position really does their team no justice. They have really turned it on in the last month or so, and in Stephen Wall, have, on his day, a fantastic shot stopper. The key for the Phoenix would be to score on him early, or at least by the end of the first period. The Phoenix did so after 8min 20sec, Greg Wood broke down the left wing and centred the puck for Robert Lachowicz. The speed of the past leaving Wall woefully out of position, and sending the home fans into ecstasy. The Phantoms did not give up and pressed the Phoenix, but the Phoenix goal was leading a charmed life, and despite some open goals the Phantoms just couldn't score. The Phoenix then punished this, when at the 16min 42sec mark, Ryan Johnson crashed the net and slipped the puck through Stephen Wall. End of the first period, and the Phoenix were well in control.

Second Period: The game became much more cagey in the second, with both teams testing the opposition goal. The period also saw the liability that is, referee Wardell come into his own. Im not complaining as he was terrible for both teams. But there were plenty of moments where fans were left wondering what game he was watching! The Phantoms would get themselves into the game after the 35min 11sec mark when the excellent Maris Ziedns got the Phantoms within one!

Third Period: Squeaky bum time, and 20mins was all that separated the Phoenix from Coventry. The Phantoms were not done, and broke Phoenix fan's hearts by grabbing the next goal. Maris Ziedns got his second of the game at 44min 47sec, beating Stephen Fone through the five hole. With nails almost gone, the game looked like it was to head to overtime, the Phantoms now well in the ascendancy. But the moment came, after 57min 11sec young James Neil found a gap and his shot from the point crossed the line. The Ice Dome then explodes and the roof nearly comes off completely. The Phoenix then saw out the remaining time to book their place in Coventry.

Verdict: What a game, what a tie, the Phantoms, while heartbroken, should not be down! They played brilliantly and contributed to a great quarter final. The Phoenix played very well, and for once the hockey gods were looking kindly upon them. Phew, im knackered just remembering it!

Attendance: Another good crowd in the Ice Dome and those in attendance were sent home happy! (So long as you were a Phoenix fan!) Im going to say 1,600 in the Dome.

Phoenix TV Highlights:

Phoenix 3 Peterborough 2 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 3 Peterborough 2 - MEN Article

Monday, 5 April 2010

Phoenix Ascension

So, after many long years of hurt and waiting the Phoenix have made the end of season playoff weekend! A proper review will follow tomorrow, but for now I wanted to share this......


Here are a few more from youtube:

Thursday, 1 April 2010

EPL Playoff Quarter Final Weeked Preview

So the regular season has ended, and hockey fans up and down the country are now looking to the finals weekend, whilst also putting the looming end of season far from their minds. The Phoenix have managed to finish a deserved third place in their debut season in the EPL. But a little of me thinks 'what could have been', the early season form from the Phoenix saw them top the table for a long stretch. Had the team not lost Steve Fone and the four lost to GB, who knows where this team could have finished. But third place is no bad place, especially as the Phoenix have finished above the other Elite team in the Bison, and ahead of the big spending Guildford Flames.

With 54 games now played the playoff quarter finals look like this:

Milton Keynes Lightning vs Swindon Wildcats
Slough Jets vs Sheffield Scimitars
Manchester Phoenix vs Peterborough Phantoms
Guildofrd Flames vs Basingstoke Bison.

Some raaaaaather interesting tie's there, so here is my own view of how the games will go and who will march on to finals weekend in Coventry. As all hockey fans know, league placings mean diddly squat come playoff time!
Im going to assume that the teams on the left, after finishing higher in the table, will all have 2nd leg home ice advantage.

Quarter Final 1 - Milton Keynes Lightning vs Swindon Wildcats
Not quite a forgone conclusion as many would think I believe! Yes MK won the league, and deservedly so, and yes Swindon finished in 8th place. But if you look at the past couple of games, MK have eased off and lost a few and Swindon have been in red hot form, turning the Phoenix over 10-2 on home ice. The key for MK in this tie for me, is to kill off the game in Swindon if they can. If Swindon win the first leg at the Link Centre it will make the return leg in the Thunderdome a tense affair. However if MK get the win, it should be a formality back in MK. The Lightning's extra class should see them home. However I say that with a big caveat, Swindon could well spring an upset, they are defiantly the form team in the EPL.
Prediction: MK to advance to Coventry.

Quarter Final 2 - Slough Jets vs Sheffield Scimitars
Again, much like MK vs Swindon, Slough really should deal with the Scimitar's quite easily. However when ever I look at the Jets they seem to be quite inconsistent. Despite this they have still finished 2nd in the league, and have some very very good players. Key for the Jets will be Slava Koulikov and Captain Blaz Emersic. They have, on many occasions, tormented the Phoenix no end, and will do so to the Scimitars. The key for the Scimitars will be to shut that top line down for Slough. As the Phoenix managed, you shut down messers Emersic and co, and you can deal effectively with the Jets. The Scimitars will have to be at their ultimate best to beat the Jets. In the games against the Phoenix, the Scimitars contribute to a great game, but don't seem to have the quality to really close down games for the win. The Scimitars are in the same boat as the Wildcats for me, the first leg in Sheffield will be pivotal. If Slamiar can have a great game and inspire the rest of the team they are in with a chance. It has to be a win or a close result in Sheffield before the tie goes back to Slough. Even so......
Prediction: Slough to make it to Coventry.

Quarter Final 3 - Manchester Phoenix vs Peterborough Phantoms
A tough one for the Phoenix, the regular season results went 5 wins to the Phoenix and 1 to the Phantoms, however as mentioned earlier playoff hockey is totally different to regular season hockey. Last years grand slam winners, while they have not had the same success this year, are still a very difficult team to breakdown and beat. Key man for the Phantoms is Stephen Wall in goal, this guy is brilliant. In a recent loss to the Phoenix at the Ice Dome, he single handedly kept the Phoenix at bay. It was only until that Wall (apologize for that!) broke that the Phoenix really shifted up a gear to win. The away leg in Peterborough will be tight, the last visit to the Phantoms home ice brought a narrow 2-1 loss for the Phoenix. Peterborough, much like Swindon, are a form team in the league. So I would take a 2-1 loss in Peterborough, knowing the Phoenix have the skill to win be a couple back in Altrincham. I do think recent Phoenix performance's, bar a couple, will mean the Phoenix could well win the first leg. The key will be to get through Stepehen Wall early. For the Phantoms, they have to keep it close in Peterborough, then play a stifling game in Altrincham. Even so, and even without the Phoenix tinted specs, I think the Phoenix have too much strength in depth for the Phantoms.
Prediction: The Phoenix to make it to their first finals weekend in Coventry.

Quarter Final 3 - Guildford Flames vs Basingstoke Bison
Phew, I am so glad the Phoenix have managed to miss falling into this quarter final! A proper tie of death! Guildford (the irresistible force) versus Basingstoke (the immovable object), the flair and skill of the Flames against the grit and determination of the Bison......any more.......? At their best the Flames are, you could argue, the best team in the league. But too much inconsistency has seem them fall behind the pace and end up fourth in the league. The Flames have the ability to carry imports and ice the required 4 at any time. This is quite a luxury to have! Their team is fast, skillful and in Adrian Saul and Martin Masa have two of the best players in the EPL. The Bison are no mug's either, and are a very difficult team to play. Lead by Steve Moria the Bison will be up for this and smell an upset. Moria, much like Tony Hand, can single handedly win a game for his team. Nicky Chinn, now a veteran of UK hockey, still has the skills and the ability to really get up the noses of the opposition. I do not know what the regular season split is between these two sides, but this playoff quarter final is difficult to predict. If Guildford want to, they should be able to win this tie. But if the Bison are able to get into the Flames early, maybe even open up a couple of goal lead at the Silverdome in Hampshire the Flames will find them difficult to overcome at home. So a difficult one to predict, but given the run in the Flames have had im going for an upset!
Predicition: The Bison......just! I just think the Flames are a little inconsistent and the Bison always make games difficult!

So there you have final four:

Milton Keynes Lightning
Slough Jets
Manchester Phoenix
Basingstoke Bison

Let me know what you think, whether you agree or not!
Heres to playoff time!

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