So sorry for the lack of blog type updates, but the hockey off season is a particularly barren period. Also for forgetting to post part two of my forwards review, and now out of sequence! Anyhoo, without much further ado, here is part 2:
Number 14 - Stephen Wallace
The Phoenix shocked most of the EPL when they announced the signing of Stephen Wallace a few months after the start of the season. Coming across from the Sheffield Scimitar's it seemed the Sheffield side wanted to cut some salary from their books and Stephen was the one to go. Ah well, what was the Scimitar's loss was the Phoenix gain. Stephen is a brilliant player, fast, skill full, and a much bigger player than say Rob Lachowicz or Adam Walker. Stephen came in and quickly settled, putting up some decent numbers straight away. Absolutely no complaints from this blogger, I would have Stephen down as one of my 'must re-sign' players from the 09/10 roster.
Number 27 - Ed Courtenay
Possibly the player with the most illustrious CV who has ever taken to the ice in the EPL. The ex NHL Ed 'bignose' Courtenay shocked the EPL by signing as assistant coach for the Phoenix. Personally I was surprised by this signing, but couldnt complain. Despite his ever advancing years, Ed still had as much skill as Sir Tony Hand, and lead the EPL in scoring for most of the season. However this amazing offensive production was alwas tempered by his 'percieved' lack of effort on the ice. Often he could be seen gliding around, far from the puck waiting to be found, at no time was this not highlighted when the Phoenix suffered during December/January,, when 100% effort was needed, Ed would often be found missing! Ultimately his sweet and sour relationship with the Phoenix would end a month before the climax of the EPL season, with a job offer back in his native land for Coca-Cola, Ed had to go. I will always thank Ed for the points and goals he scored for the Phoenix, but that admiration will always be tempered by the lack off effort, and the number of games he missed. But, having said all that, I will finish by saying, at least I got to see him playing for my team!! Plus that picture above really shows the general position Ed held himself while on the ice!
Number 29 - Adam Walker
A career year for Adam Walker, though lets face it, when your on a line with Tony Hand, you really should be! No, honestly, Adam has had a breakout season in the EPL during 09/10, finishing the clubs leading goal scorer, though had Ed not left a month early I doubt Adam would be at the top of the tree. Adam continued his progression and flourished with the extra ice time growing into the top line player he should be in the EPL. The only thing now he needs to work on, is his physical conditioning and play, Adam is not a big lad, and on a few occasions he would be too easily pushed of the puck. Nothing that couldn't be solved with a summer down the gym! After the aforementioned career year, it will not come as a surprise that Adam has chosen not to return to the Phoenix for 10/11 but sign for the EIHL's new club the Braehead Clan. Much like Robert Lachowicz, I think now is the time for Adam if he is going to make it as an EILH player, but again I worry he will not get enough ice time in the import driven top flight. I guess the choice Adam had, and one he has stated, would be either stay in the more comfortable setting of the EPL, or really try to push on in his development and go for the EIHL. I hope he has made the right choice, but I do worry!
Number 33 - Ian Bowie
Along with James Neil, Ian is a small guy but a potent small ball of fury. Ian exploded into his season notching up an impressive number of goals early in the campaign. This, along with his wrecking ball style of play, endeared him to the Phoenix faithful quickly. His season seemed to be blighted by a patch of indiscipline, as Ian had to sit out a couple of games, and never looked the same player on his return. Such a shame, Ian reminded many fans of previous ball's of hate such as Luke Stauffacher and Kyle Bruce, and looked set to have a great season. Ian is a player I would have back at the Phoenix, however doubts about discipline seem to have ended such hopes! Along with some comments from the Phoenix manager Andy C really seem to have shut the door on that one
Number 44 - Jaakko Hagelberg
aakko Hagelberg you are the love of my life, oh Jaakko Hagelberg I want you as my wife, oh Jaakko Hagelberg' Or so the words from the Choir Boys sort of go, the song highlighting the relationship Jaakko has had with the Phoenix faithful. The explosive Finn quickly became a fan's favourite with his no holds barred, skill full and never say die attitude. He sum's up everything this blogger wants in a player, skill, passion and someone who will live and die for the team. Jaakko was never going to lead the team in points, however he did still put up the numbers and would often score at crucial times. I think you would be hard pressed to find an Ice Dome resident who would not have him back. However a couple of issues could prevent his return. It seems Jaakko is after a raise to come back to Manchester, having a job offer back in his native Finland has tempted him to stay, (and I wouldn't begrudge him that, lets face it hockey is not a sport for life!), and secondly, his style of play seemed to be excessively penalised in the EPL. Im sure the most frequent penalty he got was just for 'Being Jaakko Hagelberg on the ice'. So much so that towards the end of the season, im sure Jaakko was not the same player he was at the start of the season, he almost had to tone himself down, just so he could stay on the ice. Jaakko, along with Stephen Wallace, is a player on my 'Must Re-sign list' however I don't think he will. I would be delighted to be proved wrong though!!
Anyway, that's it for my player by player review, next up for the blog will be a couple of the 'Angry Budgie on Tour' posts, one from The Netherlands last year and a recent trip to Singapore. Once they are out of the way, I will start to look ahead to the new season, and a look at the Phoenix 10/11 roster.