So lets get going with a few end of season posts! The next few will concern the players of the 2010/11 EPL Champion Manchester Phoenix team and i'll go through the team over three posts and offer a few thoughts on each one and give an 'out of 10' Budgie rating! I had intended to do a 'Thoughts on the season' type post first, but couldn't really get going on that, so I'll do the player reviews first as it may help build a picture of the season just gone.
First up, its the goaltending duo at the Phoenix, Stephen Fone and Adam Summerfield.
Number 31 - Stephen Fone
EPL Season: Played - 52, GAA - 2.75, Save % - 90.55
If you go take a look at the Iceman-Epl Goalie (http://www.iceman-epl.com/netminders.html) page you will see that Steve Fone is ranked number 6 in the EPL table in terms of netminders. I know stats don't lie, but I feel that is an artificial placing for BT. The other stat I would like to bring up, over the course of the 54 game regular season the Phoenix conceded the fewest goals in the league. A big part of that is BT's improved performance this past year. Season 09/10 Foney's confidence would take a hit easily if things were not going well, his rebounds were terrible, and a large part of his season was affected by the shoulder injury sustained over the christmas period. Fast forward to 10/11 and Foney put in a much more consistent display. More athletic, more awareness and better rebounds. Crucially, he also had an injury free season. He would sometimes still frustrate with his play behind the net, but at times he could single handedly win a game. I remember the playoff games, he was seeing the puck so big he was pulling off some amazing saves! The Rotherham native really established himself as a great number one goalie in the EPL! I think there are better (slightly) goalies in the EPL but, given the Phoenix will never have the biggest budget in the league, BT is the best guy for our roster. I would be more than happy to see him back between the pipes for the 11/12 title defending season.
Budgie Rating: A solid 8/10 for BT!
Number 30 - Adam Summerfield
EPL Season: Played - 52, GAA - 2.78, Save % - 89.40
Being a backup netminder is, possibly, the hardest job in UK ice hockey bar a few exceptions. You'll spend most of your time warming the bench hoping for ice time, and then trying not to stuff things up when you get it! I remember last season saying, Adam had a great year but looked a little nervous on the ice at EPL level, and would often make the initial save and have no idea where the puck is! This season has seen a big improvement from Adam, he has played much more this year and was given a few more starts too. His movement around the net is better, he is seeing the puck well and, either he has new pads or he has bulked up, but he fills the net better too! There was still the odd moment where he seemed unsure as to where a puck was after he made a save, but he was making more, and more difficult saves. He genuinely faces a difficult summer in terms of his future career. If things stay as they are, he will not get the starting spot at the Phoenix will Fone is still at the club. Adam is now at the point where he will want to get his own starting spot, I don't know if that would be at EPL level just yet though! So he has a few options:
1. Stay as back up to Foney at the Phoenix.
2. Move to another EPL club as backup, but with a little more icetime.
3. Become a number 1 nettie at an ENL club.
Difficult times ahead! I don't see another EPL club giving him a starter position just yet, his best bet for increased ice time would be a club who share ice time pretty evenly between their goalie duo. Two clubs spring to mind, MK and Telford. Adam could do well in those situations, but alot will depend on how those clubs proceed. MK, depends on Hollyhead, if he and Mettham stay. Also Telford, if they keep Ryan/Clarkson he wont go their either! As you can see, tough choices ahead for the Congleton native!
Budgie Rating - A good 6/10 for Summers.
So next up will be reviews of the meanest defence in the EPL!