The Phoenix had secured a win in Bracknell saturday night, so it was back to Altrincham to entertain the Telford Tigers. A large group, of say 30 Telford fans made the trip north, the home fans expecting a win and another 4 point weekend would be surprised, the puck dropped 15minutes late and battle commenced. Adam Summerfield started the game in-between the pipes for the Phoenix.
First Period: The game began at the usual fast pace we have come to expect in the Ice Dome, however tonight, something was different. This Tigers team was a completely different....err.....animal! They prevented the Phoenix settling into their usual rhythm and kept the shooting lanes close forcing the Phoenix to play down the boards. While Adam Summerfield was turning all shots away, so was the excellent Declan Ryan in the Tigers net. As the period progressed, nerves crept into the crowd as the home fans became frustrated and worried no goals had been scored. Despite pressurizing throughout the period the Phoenix just could not score, not helped by their poor performance.
Second Period: The second 20mins began much like the first! The Phoenix would have long spells of pressure, coming up against Ryan standing on his head, while Telford had the odd breakaway to worry the Phoenix fans. Even so the first goal of the game did come in the second period, Curtis Huppe scoring after 26min 21sec on a 4 on 4 situation. The sense of relief around the Dome was huge, so imagine the disappointment when Telford equilised just 41seconds later! Again on a 4 on 4 situation Andy McKinney came back and scored the Tigers first, sending the away fans delirious with joy. The Phoenix would go into the break ahead, however, when Ben Morgan scored a superb solo effort on the powerplay at 28min 11sec. The Phoenix finally clicked and started to accelerate, Marcus Kristoffersson would finally get his goal on the powerplay after 30min 48sec. The Phoenix would make it 4-1 after 38min 13sec when Ladislav Harabin got his rewards for some excellent work scoring even handed after 38min 13sec. Just to make sure Phoenix fans could not settle for the final period the Tigers would score 40sec later when Tom Watkins lead by example to score. The latter 10mins of the period were a much improved performance from the Phoenix, hopefully this would continue in the third!
Third Period: The third carried on when the second left off, with the Phoenix peppering Ryan in the Telford net, and yet, much like the rest of the game, finding him a more than equal opponent. Then with 5mins to go things started to go wrong for the Phoenix. With how poorly the Phoenix were playing, we should have seen this coming. While shorthanded the excellent Marek Hornak raced up the ice, on his second breakout attempt and scored, 4-3 after 55min 45sec. In to the final two minutes the Tigers call a time out, the home fans expecting their team to hang on for the win, the Tigers fans sensing OT and a point at least. In a proper movie style ending the Tigers would tie the game at 58min 48sec through Scott McKenzie. The last 78sec saw the Phoenix try and pressure for the win, but in the end the Tigers deserved to force the game into OT.
Overtime: In the story of the game the Phoenix piled on the pressure, creating great chances, but the Phoenix forwards just unable to score. The crowd were really on edge as penalty shots approached, as either team could take the extra point irrespective of who deserved the win over the previous 65mins.
Penalty Shots: The Phoenix decided to put Steve Fone in for the shootout, which created some interesting comments on the Phoenix forum, more on that later. The game went down to the shootout, and at least three rounds of penalty shots before the Phoenix emerged winners and claimed the extra point. My only stand out memory was Stephen Wallace, he scored two very nice penalty shots.
Verdict: Some have argued that selecting your back up netminder, showed a) disrespect to your opponent and b) you underestimating your opponent. Personally, you have two goalies at your disposal so have every right to start who you want! Adam once again showed he is a very capable keeper, and is showing more confidence out on the ice. As for underestimating the opposition, I think the Phoenix did that massively. I think we had the mindset that we had won the game before we even got on the ice. Also this Telford team is defiantly not the one sitting at the foot of the table, they worked hard, created chances, disrupted the Phoenix play, and fully deserved their point. Tony must now work to ensure this doesn't happen again, the Phoenix came very close to a Romford type result from last season. No team can be treated lightly! I have to give credit to the Tigers, they played well, but the Phoenix also missed a hell uva lot of chances. Realistically if our shooting boots were sharp we could have been out of sight after the first period. But a combination of excellent goal keeping and sloppy play in front of net made the game harder than it should! There has also been alot of comment on the Phoenix changing to Fone for the start of the penalty shootout, mainly on the Phoenix forum. My take is, Tony made the right choice! Summers has said himself that Fone is better at the penalty shoot out than him, plus Fone is the more experienced keeper. There is no disrespect to Adam, he will get there but he is not an experienced starting keeper. The Phoenix are in this game to win, so why not play your best keeper in that situation?
Anyway the Phoenix got the win, I do not think the Phoenix will take Telford lightly again! It wasn't a pretty win, but as everyone always says about championship winning teams, they are able to grind out the ugly wins!
Attendance: I'd say around 1,000 in the Dome, helped by one of the biggest away turn outs seen at the Dome this season!
Phoenix 5 Telford 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Telford 4 - CB Sport Article