Ok, so sorry for the lack of a Phoenix v Slough game review from the 19th September. The Angry Budgie was away touring central Japan so did not attend the game! By all accounts I missed a corker!
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