So...that's it! The EPL season 2010/11 is over! The fat lady has sung, the lights have gone out!
The Budgie has returned from Coventry and now thoughts must be written and posted for you all to see!
A great weekend was had and, despite the weekend not going so well for the Phoenix, defeated at the semi-final stage again, the weekend on the whole was very enjoyable! The Phoenix faithful turned out in force, over 560 packed out blocks 7/8 and 9 at the Coventry SkyDome and rocked the joint. You can still read my thoughts from last years finals weekend!
The Phoenix championship banner:
So, it was a sunny Friday when The Budgie set off for Coventry, and the glorious weather would continue all weekend, bathing EPL hockey fans in warm sunshine. With the Podcast also on tour, and going live it would be a cracking weekend, and a great weekend in terms of fan coverage. The Phoenix also took over The Old Windmill pub not too far from the SkyDome, to claim it as a Phoenix fan meeting point. Despite the power going on sunday! Haha!
Anyway, from my finals weekend preview post you will remember I picked a Phoenix v Flames final with the Flames emerging victorious. Wel....as per my quarter finals prediction I was 50% right! Read on to find out which 50% I got right!
Semi-Final 1 Phoenix v Lightning
This game I had the Phoenix down as winning, I thought the strength in dept would be key for the Phoenix. Sadly this strength in dept never really shone through! With the Phoenix faithful roaring them on the Phoenix and Lightning cancelled each other out for a goaless first period. Both Hollyhead and Fone, between the pipes, were pressed into action. So far the Lightning had managed to stifle the Phoenix top line and frustrate the second line. As such the Phoenix were not able to really settle and get into the game fully.As the game progressed the tension rose, MK lept to a 2-0 lead during the game which depressed the massed Phoenix ranks even more. With some chants of 'play like you want it' emerging from the choir boys. It was looking like the Phoenix would be disappointed once more and, as the clock wound down the Phoenix fans took to their feet to give one last battle cry. Then it happened, with less than two minutes in third period up stepped Pavel Gomeniuk who unleashed a monster of a shot to break the Phoenix duck! It couldn't happen could it? With 30sec to go Tony Hand was found clear in the hash marks and made no mistake, the Phoenix end of the SkyDome erupted the Phoenix had, as they had all season, dug deep and dragged out a result. Into OT the Lightning piled on the pressure while, again, frustrating the Phoenix. So it wasn't any surprise that, with 20sec to go, somehow the Lightning forced the puck over the line and broke Phoenix hearts! The Lightning winning and advancing to the final on a score of 3-2 after OT!
On balance the Phoenix didn't deserve to go through, over 64ish minutes the Phoenix only outdid the Lightning for two! No complaints from me! The only downside was, if the Phoenix could have played like we know they could, they would have made it to the final!
Semi-Final 2 Flames v Phantoms
This game was a little easier to predict, and in the end, was all over after the first ten minutes! The Phantoms had the support of most of the crowd inside the SkyDome but couldn't live with the Flames. The Flames looked much slicker, much more creative, and had so much more strength across three lines, and Mark Lee in nets looked in great form! After the 3rd goal went in the game really petered out! The Flames eased off and continually frustrated attempts by the Phantoms to get back into the game. In fact the game got a bit boring for the most part. Until the third period where the Phantoms managed to get onto the scoreboard and give their fans something to celebrate. At the same time the Flames did a little scoring themselves, final score ended up 6-1 Flames.
The Final Flames v Lightning
Prior to the final it was the Sheffield Steelhawks v the Nottingham Leopards in the U18 final. The game was ok, Sheffield were by far the better team! The highlight of the game though, and possible highlight of the weekend, was the chant banter between Flames and Phoenix fans. Some real pearlers and much laughter was had! Anyway onto the final! It was an entertaining final, I thought the Flames edged most of the play. Most of the neutrals in the crowd were hoping for an MK win, however after a rather unsavory incident at the end of the Phoenix v Lightning semi-final the Phoenix lent their considerable voice to the Flames cause. The only incidents I recall of note were a nasty high sticking incident which left Michael Farn with a suspected broken jaw, and the Flames Matt Towe with a 5 plus match, and Mark Lee in the Flames net seemingly constant issues with the ice in his crease. It was quite funny watching Hollyhead/Fone and Wall all playing with no issues in the crease and yet, Lee not very happy! In the end it mattered little, the Flames held on and, with an empty net goal, won the final by a score of 5-3.
Special mention must go to Dave Cloutman the stripey, he took a real nasty fall on the opening faceoff in the middle session and looked very unwell thereafter! He lasted another 5mins before needing to go off, now many people think he reacted badly when throwing his house down the tunnel, I think he was more frustrated by not being able to finish reffing the EPL final. Plus by the look on his face when he came to visit Tambo was a look of disappointment. With word of his imminent retirement its a real shame too!
So that's it, a finals weekend done and dusted!
Hope you have enjoyed reading The Angry Budgie over the course of this season, the summer does not mean the end of the Budgie though! It may get quiet, but wont be silenced!
Next few posts will cover the season just gone and a player by player review of the 2010/11 title winning season!
Phoenix 2 Milton Keynes Lightning 3 - CB Sport
Phoenix v MK Lightning Semi Final - The Bolton News
Tony Hand proud of the Phoenix - MEN Website
Who is the Phoenix number 1? - CB Sport