Last weekend saw the Phoenix take on the Bracknell Bees both at The Hive and back at the Ice Dome. In theory these should be two games the Phoenix should win easily. However, if anything from the Phoenix first season in the EPL will tell you, there are no easy games! The Bees very capable of beating the Phoenix, especially with the likes of Pinc and Cesky on the ice! Saturday saw the Phoenix make the long trip south to Berkshire, and by all accounts blow the Bees off the ice, skating to a comfortable 7-1 victory. Both teams returned to the ice on sunday in Altrincham, the Phoenix looking to secure another 4 point weekend and the Bees wanting to exact some revenge.
First Period: The puck dropped and early signs were not encouraging for the Bees, the Phoenix attacking at will. It was also evident from the posture of the Bees players that they were not terribly up for this game. It was frightening, in a good way, to see how quickly the Phoenix could go through the gears and rip the Bees to shreds! In fact it took only 64 seconds for the Phoenix to score. Kristoffersson ripping an awesome one time slap shot to the Bees top corner. The Bees should have seen this coming as Kristoffersson had at least three identical attempts prior to scoring! A real show reel goal! Then, just 44 seconds after that some excellent work from Stephen Wallace, saw Greg Wood put through to score his first of the night. Despite all this pressure the Bees did score against the run of play, on the powerplay Nicky Watt scored a well taken goal, being found on the post to easily slot home. The Bees reminding the Phoenix that they are still a threat! The Phoenix kept the pressure on and Greg Wood would score another, a beautiful wrap around goal after 11min 36sec.
Second Period: The relentless Phoenix pressure continued in the second period, Marcus Kristoffersson let fly once more to score after 25min 43sec. Both he and Greg Wood were now on for hatrick games. Ben Morgan would get in on the scoring too, when he scored after 27min 49sec while the Phoenix were on a 5 on 3 powerplay. By now you could see the Bees were visibly disheartened, they were not creating too many chances, and it seamed that Pinch and Cesky were being relied upon to do most of the work. In fact, if you took those two players out of the line up, I doubt the Bees would be able to create many chances at all. Greg Wood won the hatrick race when he scored on the powerplay after 28min 25sec. The game was effectively won now, and the two points firmly grasped when Kristoffersson would grab his own hatrick of the night after 37min 08sec also on the powerplay. One sad note to end the period on, Ben Wood, after sitting out a tripping penalty came out the box, skated hard for the Phoenix bench, only to fall, shoulder first, into the boards. He got up grasping his shoulder and went straight off the ice into the locker room.
Third Period: Ben Wood did not return to the ice, and the word from the locker room was he had dislocated his shoulder. Thankfully the team physio was able to relocate his shoulder, but it was understandable he did not play the third period. Sadly the third period did not get much better! Just 30 seconds into the period, Stephen Fone took a full slap shot to the facecage which floored the big man. He remained motionless on the ice as both teams doctors came out onto the ice to help out. Thankfully Stephen was able to get back up and skate off the ice, leaving a large pool of blood for the zamboni to clear up. It transpires that the strength of the shot opened a cut just above his eye which will require stitches. This, of course, meant young Ben Brown was thrust into action. The young 17 year old keeper getting his first taste of EPL action. Sadly he did look a little overwhelmed and the Bees were able to chalk up a few goals. Their second of the night coming after 42min 20sec, when a shot from Ben Austin deflected up into the net. The Bees third came at 46min 44sec when Ashley Calvert slotted the puck between Ben's legs. The Bees fourth and final goal of the game came after 57min 22sec on the powerplay from Michal Pinc.
Verdict: A real up and down game for the Phoenix, easily dominating the game and extending a 7-1 lead, before a double injury blow forced a young inexperienced net minder into action. Thankfully that early lead was enough for the Phoenix to win the game. But I think a lesson has to be learnt. The Phoenix have to have an EPL standard goalie as back up! I know Adam Summerfield will want to see as much ice time as possible, being absent from this game on Metro duty, but that gamble was really shown up. Ben did as best he could for the final period, but he was no where near ready. Had we been playing a Slough/Guildford/MKL we could have lost that game. That is no slight on Ben, but it just showed the Phoenix up a little. The loss of Ben Wood also hurt, the Phoenix are a man down anyway after Dean Holland left, losing Ben would mean a short benched team, at more of a disadvantage.
As for the game, it was scary how much better the Phoenix were, almost scoring at will. It wasn't a great game of free flowing hockey, but you still have to beat the team on the ice in front of you. So another 4 point weekend secured, just at some cost! Hopefully both Stephen and Ben will be back for this weekends games, but at least if not, it is not such a bad weekend to lose them for. A home game against the Steeldogs and an away trip to the Tigers. The rest of the squad will just have to be at their best!
Attendance: Probably around 1,000 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix TV Highlights:
Phoenix 7 Bracknell 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 7 Bracknell 4 - CB Sport Article
Update on Stephen one - CB Sport Article
Bracknell 1 Phoenix 7 - CB Sport Article