The Angry Budgie Live
Monday, 27 September 2010
Slough being early season favorites this was going to be a tough game, so to shut the Jets out and win by 3-0 scoreline suggests a top class performance from the Phoenix. After the friendly against the Steeldogs it was obvious this Phoenix squad is a class above last years team, however that joy was tempered by what was, a poor Steeldogs team. The Slough test would be more relevant, and wow what a result!
So the Phoenix got off to the perfect star with an opening 4 point weekend, the task for this weekend just gone was to solidify that awesome start. No easy task, as last weekend saw an away trip to league winners MK and a home game at the Dome against the Bison. Also another team expected to challenge this season. The Angry Budgie arrived back from Japan in the small hours of saturday morning, and come the evening was almost asleep. So you can imagine how quickly i woke up when I read the final score: MK 3 Phoenix 6! This Phoenix team really are good!
Onto sunday nights game against the Bison, being the other EIHL team to move to the EPL, I always look to Bison games to gauge how good the Phoenix are. This season the two teams had already met in Basingstoke on the 18th September for a season opener. The Phoenix skated out with a 4-3 victory. So on home ice you would expect a Phoenix victory, however as all Phoenix fan's will know, a home win is no given!
So on a sunny sunday evening the faithful gathered once more at the Dome, and the puck dropped for another 60 minute barn burner against the Bison, here is my take on events....
First Period: Both sides began the game a fair old pace, and again it was obvious the Phoenix and Bison are evenly matched this season. The Phoenix did edge the play during the first period, playing well and restricting the Bison to long range efforts, with players putting their bodies on the line to prevent clean shots. In fact a measure of this, was that the Bison were only able to get 4 shots through on Foney in the first 20 minutes! The Phoenix, however, were making Tom Annetts earn his pay with some fantastic attacking play. It took 4mins and 31sec for the Phoenix to open the scoring when Tony Hand wound up and, with a loud 'clang' off the post, force the puck over the goal line to give the Phoenix the lead. What followed, after 7min and 53sec, was one of the best goals scored in the Ice Dome. Ben Morgan picked the puck up just inside the Phoenix zone, and broke with speed with Huppe into the Bison zone. With some skill and speed he centered the puck at such speed, that Huppe was so in awe of Ben he almost forgot to slot the puck into the gaping goal. Huppe the scorer, but all credit must go to Mr Morgan for that one! No further scoring in the first, but a first period well worthy of your money!
Second Period: The Bison upped the intensity in the second period, trying to get something going. As mentioned earlier, the Phoenix had done very well in restricting the Bison's clear views on goal. This continued in the second and you could see the Bison getting more frustrated as the game went on. The first penalties were called in this period, and it was on a penalty kill that the Phoenix would score a short handed goal. After being set back to a 5 on 3 situation, the Phoenix set up their 3 players to try and hold out for a minute until the next Phoenix player came out the box. With the Bison passing the puck around, the Phoenix had to try and disrupt their fluidity, and they did! Tony Hand picked up on a stray pass and raced up the ice, what followed shows why Tony Hand is the greatest British player on the ice! He skated up to Annetts, deaked and held on long enough, for Annetts to commit and go to ground and leave open the goal, a grateful Tony scoring a fantastic show reel short handed goal.
Third Period: Things really got tetchy in the final 20minutes, the Bison seemingly resorting to some cheep shots, the lowlight of which was a certain Nicky Chinn laying a cheap shot on Ben Morgan (i think) behind the Bison goal. Chris Wiggins and Ciaran Long doing their best to try and start a fight, but failing! Despite a few more penalties being given out, the Phoenix continued to deal with the Bison pressure. The Phoenix managed right up until 100sec to go, the Bison finally breaking the Phoenix goal and scoring after 58min 20sec. The scorer the excellent Ondrej Lauko.
Verdict: After the great win in MK the previous night, this game was going to be a tough test for the Phoenix! But the Phoenix played really well and deserved the two points. This years defense is one to have confidence in, and Foney looks like he is on great form already. A great win, and 4 wins from 4 in the league, Phoenix have to be beating the likes of the Bison regularly if they want to win the league, and on this showing, things look good!
Phoenix TV Highlights:
CB Sports Article - Phoenix 3 Basingstoke 1
Phoenix Article - Phoenix 3 Basingstoke 1
Monday, 13 September 2010
So September 12th marked the start of the 2010/11 EPL season for the Manchester Phoenix. The, now traditional, curtain raiser for the Phoenix is a home and away set against Sheffield. Not the Scimitars, but the Steeldogs, after the South Yorkshire side re-emerged with a new ownership structure.
Its been a long and boring summer for hockey fans, especially after the massive disappointment that was the world cup! For the Phoenix, the season began away at Ice Sheffield firday night. Sadly The Angry Budgie did not make the trip, I was folking out with Folkface. That's a blog post in its own right at some point in the future. Anyway, the new look Phoenix went to Sheffield, and played their first competitive game together. The side obviously clicked as the boys skated out with a 7-3 victory.
The time came for the faithful to re-convene at the Altrincham Ice Dome, and it was a sunny day that greeted all the hockey fans making the trip. With such a comfortable lead, a good first period was needed to really put the game to bed.
First Period: The new look squad burst into action and the early indications were that this years incarnation is much improved. The Phoenix defiantly have more size, and grit this year. With Kristoffersson, Dean Holland all living up to their early billing, and Huppe already showing his brilliant talent. The Phoenix fan's did not have long to wait, the new top line clicking immediately and giving Huppe a chance to score his first on home ice. Scoring after 1min 55sec assists to Marcus Kristoffersson and Tony Hand. James Neil, back for another season, was rewarded for his industry by doubling the Phoenix lead just before the 10minute mark. This goal the product of some hard work from the Phoenix second line. Huppe would round off the first period scoring getting his second of the night by jamming the puck through the Steeldog's keepers legs.
Second Period: With the game virtually won and the cup retained for another year. The Phoenix just had to ensure no silly injuries or penalties were taken, while dealing with any offence created. Huppe got his hat-trick goal just 91seconds into the second period. He is one hell of a player and one who could do very very well in the EPL! Not to be blown away completely the Steeldogs would get their own goals up on the board during this period. Peter Vaisenen scoring on the power play after 25min 57sec. James Archer showed why he is another hot prospect on the Phoenix roster by restoring the Phoenix 4 goal lead after 37min 21sec. Sheffield then scored their last of the game through Tom Squires, I think I missed the timing on that one! The final goal of the period, and as it turns out, the game, came for the Phoenix and it came for Marcus Kristoffersson who capped a brilliant break out goal from the Phoenix top line.
Third Period: Not much happened by way of real action in and around the goal mouth. But two excellent fights did break out to fire of the supporters in the stand. The first one came when Edgar Bebris checked Sir Tony Hand from behind, what erupted was an amazing display from Sir Tony. For a player not know for dropping the gloves Tony went about the fight with such determination and fire. The man was possessed! Tony was much smaller than Bebris would gave as good as he got, points win to Tony I think! The second fight was more about guts! This time the Phoenix Dean Holland went toe to toe with Aaron Strawson from the Steeldogs. A little bit weighted in Strawson's favour, Holland instantly endeared himself to the Phoenix faithful but giving it his all, plus blood and teeth!
Verdict: Not the best of games, but hey its the first of the season, but the early signs are encouraging! As mentioned above this team are a grade above the 09/10 EPL squad. Much more size and grit this year, which is exactly what the EPL needs! In Huppe Tony Hand has potentially found another great sniper. He is tall, fast and skillful, and being on Tony's line he is guaranteed to score a hatfull! As for the Steeldogs, a tough season ahead! With all their turmoil over the summer, getting through this season will be a priority. They have a very young and inexperienced squad. But in Squires and Vaisenen have two players who could provide their spark. So a win for the Phoenix and a retention of a big of silver wear, this game proved to be a useful exercise, the more meaningful test will begin next week. When the 10/11 EPL season really begins!
Apologise in advance for that one, The Angry Budgie is making its annual trip to Japan and will be missing the next Phoenix home game.
Attendance: Early pre-season non season ticket games never contribute to a full house, but i'd say a good 700 turned up for last nights game!
Phoenix TV Highlights
Manchester Phoenix Article
CB Sports article
Thursday, 9 September 2010
The Steelers lurching from one financial trouble to another, the Stingray’s being rescued from the brink by Coventry, the Raiders moving to the ENL. British hockey is not at its best currently! The situation in Hull certainly, shows why Elite level hockey just cannot work in its current form. Now there are at least two set’s of owners with interest in a total of 4 clubs. Not healthy! But that’s a post for another time!
The purpose of this post was really to bring you up-to-date and give an outline of the new Phoenix squad for the up-coming season. One of the reasons this blog has been quiet over summer has been, yours truly and my better half have recently bought our first house together. So the house buying process has taken up much of my spare time. Going forward I should still be able to bring you game reviews after every home (and some away) games. But until we have moved in the house I’ll not have time to do much else!
So onto the new season………
The Phoenix inaugural season in the EPL exceeded all my expectations, a 3rd place finish, good cup run, and a first playoff final appearance for ages rounded off a great debut season. Lessons have now been learned and the new 10/11 squad looks to have more grit, determination and heart. I’ll be happy with a similar season again please, solidify our position as one of the top EPL teams, but I would like to start filling the trophy cabinet! Im not sure we will have a team capable of winning the league, but I do think a cup win is possible, and something we should aim for. Thing’s seem to be going ok for the club despite the downturn, there will be more season ticket holders this year, and plans for the new 2,800 seat rink have been given the go ahead, and demolition of the remaining on-site buildings should start soon. Things to be positive!
Onto the team….this year’s squad has retained some of the better players from the 09/10 campaign, while a better standard of import has been signed, overall, mind you! Fan’s favourite Jaakko Hagelberg has departed, but another from the frozen Nordic countries has come in. Full squad is as follows:
Number 30 – Adam Summerfield: Adam continues to develop, and when called upon performs brilliantly. His season for me, was capped when he had to stand in for Steve Fone for the best part of a month, and pulled off a brilliant win against eventual league champs the MK Lightning. Another season as back up will aid the young Congletonian no end, on the downside, as he continues to improve, come the end of the season he will want to become a starter in his own right!
Number 31 – Steve Fone: The Sheffield native raised a few eye brows when he signed as starter for the Phoenix. But has proved he has the makings of one of the best British goalies playing today. The 09/10 season showed, if helped out by his defence he can become nigh on unstoppable, but he can be horribly exposed at times, and needs to control his rebounds better. But I really thing this season could be a stellar one for Fone. He should have a better team in front of him….big difference!
Number 4 – Luke Boothroyd: Boot’s returns for another season, probably again as captain. Boots had a good season, not a great one mind! At times it seemed he struggled with the captaincy, but towards the end of the season he really began to lead the time. A slight player, but an intelligent hockey player, one who shows, you don’t have to be built like a brick outhouse to be a great defenceman! More maturity please Boots!
Number 15 – Ben Wood: A season of two halves for the tall man from Macc! Starting the season out of position on offence, Ben struggled to shine and get any ice time. A fact this blog had moaned about on numerous occasions through the season. However, when Tony moved Ben back to his more natural defence he began to shine, and command more ice time. Ben really developed and improved so much, he could well be the best poke-check’er on the team! It’s already apparent that Ben is becoming a fan favourite, one recent thread on the Phoenix forum, Ben Wood’s name will be adorning quite a few fan’s back’s this season! Ben really needs another full season on defence and he will become a top Brit d’man!
Number 6 –Ben Morgan: A new face for the Phoenix defence, the Sheffield native comes to Altrincham first his first season, after spending his career within the Sheffield youth system. This year Ben should be able to develop and become a star defenceman. One who should be a hot prospect for the GB set up too.
Number 40 – Pavel Gomeniyuk: Pavel comes to us from a good few seasons with the Newcaslte Vipers and Hull Stingrays and, in fact, had signed for the Steeldogs for the 10/11 season, before they got into some financial issues, and he jumped ship to Manchester. Pavel may not be a flashy defenceman but he is solid and dependable. He will add a wealth of experience to the Phoenix blue line, and will hopefully not be tempted to go walkabouts like Mattsson used to do!
Number TBA – Ladislav Harabin: The 29 year old Harabin comes to the Phoenix from the Slovakian league team HK Spisska Nova Ves. From the write up’s about this guy, he seems like the kind of D man im going to like! Aggressive, very competitive and he scores goals. Based on his point production he should put up a fair few points this year, and he’s not afraid to mix it up either.
On the forward line……
Number 8 – Greg Wood: Greg was a standout player for the Phoenix during the 09/10 season, a feisty little guy who was not afraid to get in the mix, and put up some decent points. Greg is one of the most talented young Brit players on the ice, some silky skills and great speed means he is one to hold onto for the future. Hopefully 10/11 season will hold more of the same for Greg!
Number 18 – Dean Holland: A driven young feisty player, is the kind of guy the Phoenix need. One of the things we lacked during the 09/10 campaign was the will to get dirty and grind out a result. Dean should bring some of those qualities to the Phoenix, coming to us from Newcastle, Dean will get in the corners and get in the goalies face creating havoc! Another fan favourite in the making?
Number 19 – Tom Duggan: It’s with a bit of fortune that the Phoenix signed Tom Duggan from the Guidlford Flames! Tom is starting a business degree in Sheffield, which opened the door for the Phoenix. Despite not getting the ice time he wanted with the Flames, Tom still managed 38 points in 60 games, a decent return in a team with a gazillion imports! Another grinder, Tom add’s to the more determined look of the Phoenix this season, I expect good things from this guy!
Number 12 – James Neil: James re-joins the Phoenix for his second season, after a good spell last term. James is one of those players who goes about his business quietly, but effectively. A great personality on and off the ice, James is a player who I’d be disappointed to loose! Welcome back James!
Number 14 – Stephen Wallace: A big favourite of mine! Captured from the Scimitars during the 09/10 season, Stephen is a skillfull and fast player. Putting up 20 points in 29 games for Sheffield, then 19 points in 16 games for the Phoenix, Stephen proved his worth, and was duly re-signed! I have even broke with tradition and decided to sponsor his stick’s for the coming season. Chuffed to have this guy back!
Number 39 – Curtis Huppe: The Canadian hot shot is here to fill the boots of the Phoenix sniper. Positions held by, Johan Molin/Joe Tallari/David Beauregard and Ed Courtenay. Huppe comes to the Phoenix with a proven pedigree. Having played with Tony at the Belfast Giants, Huppe has also iced for the Coventry Blaze and Hull Stingrays. Playing 221 games in the EIHL Curtis put up 254 points, Crutis will go straight onto the top line, no doubt with Tony Hand, so expect a career year for Huppe?
Number 2 – James Archer: A player snatched from the Stingrays after the Humberside club went under, James is a great young hockey player, and one who is set for a big career! James is seen to fill the void after Robert Farmer left for Canada, big things are expected. Another player with EIHL experience, James iced for the Coventry Blaze. A career year with the Scimitar’s James posted 52 points in 54 games! Looks exciting!
Number TBA – Marcus Kristoffersson: An NHL draftee for the Dallas Stars, and a Swedish Elite league winner with Djurgardens, Marcus comes to the Phoenix to fill the void left by Jaakko Hagelberg. A player who has played in the top leagues in Sweeden/Finalnd and in the AHL, Marcus looks to be a very exciting addition to the Phoenix roster. Marcus had spoken to his good friend Andre Mattsson who recommended he came to the Phoenix, Marcus is a hard working in-your-face kind of player. I wonder how many Hagelberg fan’s will switch allegiances to our new Nordic player?
The one that got away – Robert Farmer: The hottest young British player Robert Farmer was one of the first signings made by Tony Hand. It certainly created a lot of buzz around the Phoenix organisation. The 19 year old had EIHL experience, but had decided to continue his development under the British Great One, Tony Hand. Not long after joining the Phoenix, Famer got the call to go for a trial with the Dubuqu Fighting Saints in Iowa. As ever Tony was gracious enough to let Robert go for the trials. Knowing what an opportunity it could be for Farmer. It was about this time Phoenix plan’s for their imports were put on hold, as Farmer’s final destination would decided the make up of the import slots. Despite impressing both the Saints staff, and NHL scouts in attendance, Robert would not be playing in Iowa. Luck would be kind to Robert and he was drafted 44th in the Canadian Hockey League draft and will now play for the Ottawa 67’s. So the Phoenix have lost a potential star, but Robert could well go on to bigger and better things in North America. Good luck Robert!
Ottawa 67’s fan blog - http://ottawa67s.blogspot.com/2010/08/getting-to-know-robert-farmer.html