A rare home double header saw the Phoenix take on the Guildford Flames saturday night before welcoming the Telford Tigers to the Ice Dome sunday. The Flames came to the Ice Dome at the summit of the EPL table and holding a 2-1 series lead over the Phoenix. The last meeting between the two sides in Altrincham saw the Flames leave with a 4-3 victory becoming the first team to take regulation points from the Phoenix this season. This would be another tight game, and an absolute barn burner. With the Phoenix continuing their upwards turn in form the Phoenix would be in with a great chance of taking both points from the Flames.
First Period: Crikey it kicked off from the first puck drop, both teams going for it 100%! The Phoenix did enjoy most of the possession during the first period however their play in and around the goal was a little scrappy. Hala was in worryingly good form right from the off. You really need to get into him quick and get a goal past him to upset and get him off his game. Guilford did look very slick and smooth when in possession and the few chances they had, they did worry the Phoenix D. The only goal of the period was scored by the Guildford Flames after 4min 10sec. A mistake by the Phoenix in the offensive zone lead to a Flames 3 on 1, with Towe, Smital combining to set up Rempel for the first goal. Even going down to an early goal the Phoenix kept going and kept creating chances. Encouraging signs for the rest of the game.
Second Period: There must have been one or two home fans who wondered if this would be one of those nights for the Phoenix. Despite creating chance after chance, the Phoenix either found the post, found Hala in top form or the bounce just didnt work out. The Flames went 2-0 up after 31min 54sec, one of Ref Brown's many mistakes, a missed tripping penalty gave Guildford another odd man rush, leading to Rempel getting his second of the night. Phoenix heads did not drop and they guys kept plugging away and would finally get their reward. After an initial shot on Hala, Hala seemed to loose awareness of where the puck was only for Tony Hand to nip in and slot home the puck. The Phoenix goal coming at 33min 12sec. The talking point of the period/game came more or less at the end of the period. Kristoffersson was involved in an exchange of play with Lundin and Masa. My understanding is it went like this! Lundin tripped Kristoffersson, Kristoffersson cross-checked Masa and Masa attempted decapitation of Kristoffersson's head. I have not seen a more despicable/disgraceful act by an opposition player in the Ice Dome yet (I think!) Masa deliberately lifted his stick and attempted to hook Marcus round the neck. What did the in-effectual Mr Brown do to reward Masa? Yes, give him a two minute minor penalty! Utter disgrace! Masa should have been gone from the game with a match penalty at least! I do hope the EIHA review video evidence and ban the little ****!
Third Period: I really thought the Phoenix shifted up a gear in the third period and began to overcome the Flames. What happened next only underlines much of the guff that is spouted on many a hockey forum regarding Andrew Sharp. I firmly believe that 99% of the people condemning the signing have never seen Sharpie play a minute on the ice. The first goal of the period came 42min 08sec and yes, it was Sharpie who got it. Two goals in two games recently! After some great hard work from Greg Wood Sharp emerged with the puck to the side of Hala and put a superb backhanded shot past Hala. Well done Sharpie! The Flames re-took the lead on 51mins through Masa (who was lucky to be still on the ice). Despite the Flames taking the lead the Phoenix were still very much in the game. With 9mins to go, they had more than enough time to win this game. The Phoenix tied the game after 54min 32sec through defence man Harabin, though at times i do think he wants to be a forward! Just reward for the big guy who has put in a string of great performances! The Ice Dome erupted less than a minute later when the Phoenix took the lead, Curtis Huppe scoring the go ahead goal at 55min 44sec. The Phoenix withstood the Flames pressure for the last 5 minutes and a late penalty giving the Flames a man advantage for the last 90sec to hold on for a regulation win.
Verdict: What a game! A truly epic contest between the leagues best two squads. No fan could really have left the Ice Dome last night not having felt they had their money's worth! I really thought the Phoenix stepped up and, not only competed, but edged the Flames on the ice. They created more opportunities and stood up defensively to the Flames smooth play. A real stand out game for the Phoenix and a fully deserved win for the guys!
Attendance: As stated previously, saturday night's never produce the biggest of crowds. I would say there was a crowd of around 800 in the Ice Dome, and what an atmosphere they created! I would loved to have been outside the Ice Dome when the Phoenix scored! It would have sounded amazing!
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - CB Sport Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - CB Sport Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - Guildford Article