After a league title comes the hangover?
The Phoenix had the difficult task of re-focussing their efforts towards a possible EPL playoff final push, standing in their way was the not so insignificant spectre of Andre Payette and the Sheffield Steeldogs. Since Payette has taken over the Steeldogs have added more than a measure of...errr....steel? Prior to his arrival the Steeldogs would play hockey, and more often than not a comfortable win would be secured. However today they have added a whole new physical element to their game, with more than a helping of dodgy/illegal play to boot! For the Phoenix it has been very good at disrupting our usual style of play, the Phoenix have still been able to win, but it usually comes at a cost, with the Phoenix picking up a fair few injuries as a result of some questionable play by the Steeldogs!
Saturday's away trip to Sheffield saw a massive contingent of Phoenix fans head across the pennines, for me the key would be to stay healthy and keep the scores close. Well the Phoenix had other ideas, and skated out of Ice Sheffield with a 6-2 victory. Helped by Payette getting himself thrown out the game with a match penalty to boot. Meaning he would miss sunday's 2nd leg in Altrincham.
So the Phoenix faithful filled the Altrincham Ice Dome for one last time in the 2010-11 season to cheer on the guys to their second successive Coventry appearance. The Phoenix at full strength, the Steeldogs minus Payette!
First Period: With a 4 goal cushion from the first leg the Phoenix had to keep calm and nullify the Steeldogs offence. They had to look after Ozonlins and deal with the physical play, a task the Phoenix did very well during the opening 20 minutes. The Phoenix created most of the chances in the opening session, and the first goal would come for the Phoenix on the powerplay. At 13min 13sec the puck was cycled round to Tony Hand who stepped in off the blue line and, with no options, blasted a slap shot past Ben Bowns in goal. The man can shoot! James Archer doubled the advantage less than a minute later at 14min 01sec. After that, with the aggregate scores at 8-2 the game was done and dusted. So far Sharp had not been given any ice time, but his presence was enough to keep messers Grundmanis/Bebris quiet all game!
Second Period: Not alot happened in the second period, as the game wad done the Phoenix eased off and just kept the Steeldogs chances to the minimum. Tony Hand had changed into his civvies and was coaching from the bench for the period.
Third Period: With Tony Hand on the bench, and Kristoffersson taking an early night watching from the stands the Phoenix were not taking any risks. Even Sharp was rested, more needed in Coventry than getting a needless game/match penalty in this game! With the game won and progress assured the Phoenix eased up, it was perhaps down to this the Steeldogs got on the board. Their first of the night coming after 42minutes, I must apologise I didn't catch the scorer! At 44min 33sec Huppe stepped up to restore the Phoenix 2 goal lead making it 3-1 Phoenix. Wallace scored next with some superb play from the second line he just about forced the puck over the line at 48min 07sec. As the game wound down the Steeldogs would score the final goal of the game at 52min 44sec through Phoenix old boy Ryan Johnson. Thankful an upset was avoided the game ended 4-2 Phoenix and 10-4 on aggregate.
Verdict: A very tricky pair of games negotiated comfortably and professionally. The Phoenix dealt well with the Steeldogs play and closed out the series in fine style. Sheffield could have done better, but their player coach did it for them, getting thrown out in the first game. Im more happy that the Phoenix have come out the weekend with no serious injuries and, bar a few nocks, head to Coventry at full strength!
Attendance: A good crowd in the Dome, i'd guess around 1,000.
Phoenix 4 Sheffield 2 - MEN Article
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