Yes The Angry Budgie went on tour and braved the snowy hills of the pennines to make the trip across for Sunday night's away game to the Sheffield Steeldogs. To be fair the roads were absolutely fine! Like Swindon the night before this would not be a walkover. Especially after the Steeldogs had brought in some re-enforcements in the form of ex Hull man Kriss Grundmanis and ex Phoenix hard man Andre Payette. Sadly Payette's ITC registration was not processed in time preventing him suiting up against his ex team and teammates. So with a large away following almost outnumbering the home support, and a fair few Steeler shirts in attendance, The Angry Budgie settled down in seats up against the plexi (for the first time in years I might add!) for sunday nights EPL and Cup game against the Steeldogs.
First Period: All our games against the Steeldogs have followed the same sort of patter, with the Phoenix clearly on top but Ben Bowns constantly frustrating the Phoenix attack. This lad is a fine goaltender and one who is destined to play at a high level. He really is a credit the Sheffield set up. Sunday night's game saw him face plenty of shot's and it took the Phoenix 8min's to find a breakthrough. The Phoenix first line clicking once again, carrying on from where they left off saturday night! Tony Hand getting in on the action scoring the Phoenix first goal, assisted by Curtis Huppe. Curtis and Tony would swap roles just a minute and a half later, when Huppe scored on the powerplay at 9min 32sec. No further goals came in the second period, despite the Phoenix enjoying the vast majority of possession. It did surprise me how little the Steeldogs offered in terms of attacking effort!
Second Period: The second session picked up where the first ended, the Phoenix creating many many chances but coming up against a determined Bowns in goal. The Phoenix defence was also on its game sunday night limiting the Steeldogs to long shots and very few close in opportunities on Steve Fone, who, again, was having a cracking game. He must have been seeing the puck twice its size! The first line combined for a third time in the night scoring 11sec into the second period. This time Kristoffersson getting his name on the scoresheet. The Phoenix began to ease up and Tony even called a surprise time out half way through the period to remind the team of their responsibilities and to remain focused.
Third Period: With the lack of home support and a game pretty much decided the third was a little disappointing in terms of atmosphere. But the game continue as the previous 40mins had! Constant Phoenix pressure, even with the Phoenix visibly easing up the intensity. I cannot remember many stand out moments but the Phoenix did make it 4-0 after 53min 09sec when Stephen Wallace scored against his old club. The Phoenix closed out the game, and Steve Fone got a shutout, which was just reward for his excellent play during the game.
Verdict: A potential banana skin avoided, and a shame that Payette could not face the Phoenix. But a win was needed, and the Phoenix proved too much for the Steeldogs. In the end it was pretty easy for the Phoenix, but you still have to beat the team that is put out on the ice before you! It was always about the two points though, with the win the Phoenix now finish top of the Cup table which gives them home advantage for the two-legged semi-final and, should they make it, the final too! The game also saw the ongoing development of Andrew Sharp, he worked hard again, positioned himself well on the ice, and even got a few chances himself! Despite the poor atmosphere, big thumbs up to the pre-game warm up tunage, we rocked out to two Airbourne songs, a QOTSA song, Foos and some Metallica! Get in! At the end of the game, both sides took part in what has to be the longest handshake I've seen, with some many ex teammates and former Scimitar's players it seemed ever player wanted a quick catch up before moving on!
Attendance: As per the Steeldog's match report, attendance was 570, I wouldn't be surprised if around 200 of them were Phoenix fans!
Steeldogs 0 Phoenix 4 - Phoenix Article
Steeldogs 0 Phoenix 4 - CB Sport Article
Steeldogs 0 Phoenix 4 - Steeldogs Article