Another weekend gone, another weekend of EPL hockey chalked up. This weekend just gone was another tough test for the Phoenix, a long away trip to Slough followed by the only team to have taken a win off the Phoenix, the Swindon Wildcats. For the vast majority of the 09/10 season the Phoenix could not buy a win against the Jet's, and yet this season, the Phoenix managed a 3-0 win on home ice. As ever with away games against tough opposition, im usually happy with a point, anything more is a bonus.The result, in the end, was a 6-4 victory for the Phoenix, and coupled with the pair of victories against the MK Lightning show that this Phoenix team mean business!
So onto sunday's game against the Wildcats. This is a team that was tough to crack, but once you did, usually crumbled. The goalie in Douglas veering from outstanding to a down right liability. Anyway the Cats took a penalty shootout victory over the Phoenix in the link center when the clubs last met. By most accounts it seams the Phoenix were not on top form and possibly lost the game themselves. So this return fixture was a chance for some revenge and complete another 4 point weekend.
First Period: Both teams took to the ice and began the game in a very cagey way. Neither side able to fully dominate the opposition just yet. The Phoenix were quite subdued in the early stages and were unable to click into the fast free flowing type of hockey we are used to. Even so the Phoenix struck first after 7min 47sec, when Pavel Gomeniuk scored the first of his 'Gordie Howe' hattrick. A beautiful flighted shot from the blue line that just sailed past Douglas in goal. To be fair to the big man, there were many bodies in his way! This goal didn't quite ignite the Phoenix and Graham Newell would tie things up after 10min 14sec. It was this goal that lit the Phoenix blue touch paper, what followed was near enough 6minutes of explosive hockey that really blew Swindon out of the water. In those 6 or 7 minutes the Phoenix scored 5 unanswered goals that left the Wildcats reeling and quarreling with each other. Those 5 goals as follows:
2-1 Scored: Huppe, Assist: Gomeniuk on the PP 13min 21sec
3-1 Scored: Archer, Assit: Wallace 14min 19sec
4-1 Scored: G Wood, Assist: Wallace & Archer 17min 24sec
5-1 Scored: B Wood*, Assist: Harabin & Neil 18min 03sec
6-1 Scored: Kristoffersson, Assist: Huppe & Morgan 19min 46sec
I've highlighted goal number 5, this was scored by the young lad from Bollington Ben Wood. This is the youngster that really came on a developed brilliantly in the latter stages of the 09/10 campaign. So far this term, the development has continued, and despite being put back on the forward lines, he is growing in confidence and ability. This goal was a cracker, and rewarded his perseverance!
Second Period: What a difference 15 minutes makes! That is the amount of time Widlcats coach Ryan Aldridge had to get into his squad. The Wildcats caught everyone by surprise, catching the Phoenix napping and scoring after just 32sec of the second period. Jozef Kohut making the scores 5-2 and instilling some uncertainty into the Phoenix and their fans. For the duration of the second period, the Phoenix were a shadow of their first period selves. The Wildcats finally showing the type of grit and determination that beat the Phoenix in the Link Center. Tensions were ratcheted up further when Ryan Watt capped off a brilliant flowing move from the Cats zone to make it 5-3 at 27min 09sec. The fans in the stands, at least Phoenix fans, even more worried, knowing there was at least half the game left to play. Thankfully this 3rd Wildcats goal woke the Phoenix, and the boys from Manchester re-grouped and began to disrupt the Cats comeback. The period would end with a dramatic penalty shot for Swindon. Ladislav Harabin pulling Josef Liska down from behind for a legitimate penalty shot. Sadly Liska's attempt was utterly terrible and easily saved by Stephen Fone. The Widlcats advance halted as the second period ended with the score 6-3 to the Phoenix.
Third Period: Im sure I was not the only Phoenix fan who hoped the second interval saw Tony Hand give the Phoenix the proverbial rocket! The second period being one of the worst seen in the Ice Dome this season. The side that came out for the third was a much improved version. Not quite hitting the first period high, but getting close and dealing easily with what the Wildcats had to offer. With the game still, relatively, comfortably in hand the Phoenix just had to cope with the Wildcats offense whole still trying to capitalize on the odd chance that was created. The only goal of the period came for the Phoenix on the powerplay. Tony Hand seeing an opening in the goal and then lazering a shot into the back of the net, scoring at 47min 43sec....game over!
Verdict: A game which, despite a near second period collapse, could have been a Phoenix blowout. Had the Phoenix kept up their first period form a double figure score could have been easily reached! Still, it was good to see the Phoenix gain revenge for their early season loss to Swindon, and it was pleasing to see the Phoenix 3rd line getting plenty of ice time. A big shout out to Pavel Gomeniuk for getting a 'Gordie Howe; hattrick (Goal/Assist/Fight), and an even bigger shout to Ben Wood, for scoring his first of the season and capping off a near Man of the Match performance. In fact young Ben could have bagged a couple if a few third period chances fell kinder to him! So with a good win, and Guildford not playing on sunday, the Phoenix ascended to the top of the tree. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the Flames and the Phoenix meet for the first time this season!
Attendance: A bit smaller than against MK, but still over a thousand, so until I see next weeks powerplay magazine, I will guess at about 1,050 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix TV highlights:
Phoenix 7 Wildcats 3 - CB Sport Article
Phoenix 7 Wildcats 3 - Phoenix Article
The Angry Budgie has decided to add a second team to its blog. More will follow with a post sometime this week.....hopefully!