The Phoenix away game to the Milton Keynes Lightning saturday night was called off due to adverse weather conditions. According the MK this was due to the Phoenix not being able to make it to Milton Keynes. Given the Phoenix were already an hour and a half into their journey I dont believe that much! Anyway, it probably was too dangerous to play, as the Milton Keynes area had been badly hit by snow!
With the south east being badly hit doubts were raised about the Phoenix home fixture against the Slough Jets sunday. In fact the game was called off sunday morning, but interestingly the Phoenix press release mentioned a possible game going ahead anyway. Step forward the Sheffield Steeldogs. So a big mention has to go out to them for stepping forward to play the fixture. Win win on both counts for the Phoenix. The club get to make some money from a home fixture, and both the Phoenix/Sheffield get to play out a game that would, otherwise have to be re-arranged towards the end of the season.
So onto sunday nights game, i'll apologise if my review is a bit naff, due to Heathrow being up the creek its been mad busy at work!
First Period: With the introduction of Andre Payette to the Steeldogs roster there was an added level of spice to this game. Would Sharpie and Payette fight? well yes probably, when would they? Some hockey was played and the Phoenix dominated the play, but worryingly gave away a couple odd man rushes which, had Fone not been on form, would have seen the Steeldogs go 2-0 up! Thankfully Fone was in top form and kept the scores 0-0. Phoenix would take the lead after 6min 50sec when Kristoffersson put the puck past the Steeldogs goalie. Who's name, I must admit, escapes me right now! Ben Bowns was away on GB duty, and by all accounts performing brilliantly! The Phoenix made it 2-0 under a minute later when Greg Wood got a deserved goal at 7min 27sec. The first line clicked again at 9min 01sec when Curtis Huppe scored his first of the night. The first period did not have to wait too long before Payette and Sharp lined each other up. After a few minutes of goonage from Payette, including him trying to go with Tony Hand, Sharp and Payette got to it in front of the Phoenix bench. I'd like to say Sharp won, but Payette's extra size I think gave him the edge in the fight! It wouldn't be the last time, not just in the game, but in the period for these two! around the 17min mark Payette was holding Tony and chatting, almost trying to get him to go for a fight. Sensibly Tony got off the ice and sent on Sharpie. Sadly, and disappointingly, Payette took one punch from Sharp and turtled it! Never thought i'd see Payette wimp out from a fight! From the resulting penalties Payette would loose his head and abuse the official this would earn him a 10min+game+match penalty! He absolutely lost it! This highlights one of the best reason's for having Sharpie on the squad. He is a Brit, Payette an import. Even if Sharpie had been ejected from the game, the Phoenix would have only lost a Brit, rather than one of the few valuable imports on a roster! Anyway, I think iv'e rambled on enough about the first period!
Second Period: Carried on much like the first, in terms of play! The game was effectively over in the first 5 minutes of the second period. The Phoenix raced to a 6-0 lead with goals from Huppe, on 23min 07sec. Harabin on the powerplay at 24min 08sec. And Archer on 24min 29sec. Huppe's goal to make it a 4-0 lead was a peach! After a lovely lobbed pass from the defence, Tony/Curtis and Marcus were clean through on the Sheffield goal. For once a neat pass exchange in front of goal lead to a goal. A real highlights real effort too! The final goal of the period and game would come at 31min 30sec when Stephen Wallace scored against his old club. As is a trait of Tony Hand teams, when games get to this position he really wants to ease up and not embarrass the opposition. It was clearly visible the Phoenix slowed their play, in fact they would have been at a standstill had they gone any slower! Adam Summefield also came on the see out the rest of the game towards the end of the second period.
Third Period: To be honest my memory of the third period is lacking! That could be due to being busy at work over the past few days, or it could be that nothing happened!! All I can remember is that the ref began to call some interesting penalties! Now I can never criticise a ref, as I cant do the job, but crikey, there were some shockers!
Verdict: In the end a routine win against an understrength Steeldogs squad. Loosing Ben Bowns affected them badly as he really is a quality goalie. I'd say after the Phoenix went 3-0 up the game wasn't the best to watch. Sheffield didn't not give up, but lacked the quality to make a difference on the scoreboard. I was dissapointed to see Payette return to goon status after becoming a decent player at the Phoenix. It's obvious the effect Tony had on him! The Steeldogs big import defence man Grundmanis also seemed to like picking on the Phoenix two smallest players in Greg Wood and Tom Duggan. To be honest I bet both could hold their own in a fight!
Attendance: December is never a great month for attendances however I would say around 800 hardy souls made the trip!
Phoenix 7 Sheffield 0 - The Bolton News
Phoenix 7 Sheffield 0 - CB Sport Article