The Angry Budgie Live

Monday, 16 May 2011

Phoenix Champions Review - The Forwards Part 1

Number 2 - James Archer
Played: 54, Goals: 21, Assists: 23, Points: 44

James has come on so much this past season, a very solid second line forward he has determination and great strength. Plus, come playoff time, a fantastic ability to grow a decent playoff beard! Very important! James is a player who I want back at the Phoenix next season, he is the type of British forward you can use as part of a core group to grow a team over many years. James is defiantly one of those forwards who does not necessarily stand out and wow the crowd, but is missed when he is not on the ice. Archer played well on the second line for the Phoenix and seemed to revel in the locker room banter. Where he plays next season could depend on how the Phoenix roster shapes up, as to whether he will continue on the second line, or if an EIHL club comes in for him. He is another player that, given the ice time, could develop into a quality Brit. Maybe not in the same mold as Lachowicz but more the hard working grinder type player.

The Budgie Rating: A solid 7/10!

Number 8 - Greg Wood
Played: 54, Goals: 11, Assists: 25, Points: 36

Greg is an immensely hard working player, the epitome of which was the Phoenix semi-final in last years EPL finals weekend. Phoenix were on the penalty kill and Greg took the puck up the ice into the Slough zone, and wasted a good minute and a half by keeping the puck. Despite the attentions of two or three Jets players. He works hard all game and gives his all, I just wish he put up more points. That could be his play, or being on the second/third line all year. Despite putting up 36 points, he could have done so much more and possibly run Stephen Wallace as the second highest Brit point scorer on the Phoenix roster. The majority of his point production came in the latter third of the season, so just think what he could have done. It has already emerged Greg is part of the 'mass exodus' (three players) to the Sheffield Steeldogs, where he will be made captain. A surprising move, he doesn't seem like captain material to me, though I could have said that about Luke Boothroyd to be honest! What do I know! Will he be missed? In my! I think the Phoenix can sign a better, more consistent player in his place. But The Angry Budgie wishes him well, he is going back home, is captain and will get much more icetime in Sheffield than he ever could in Altrincham.

The Budgie Rating: 6/10 for Greg.

Number 9 - Tony Hand
Played: 54, Goals: 25, Assists: 108, Points: 133

Have you seen the point figure above? I mean have you? Seriously? The British Great One (tm), the reason 'The Code' (tm) was set up, Tony has had another stellar year, though made all the sweeter by capturing the league title. A PPG of 2.46 shows the old man is not slowing down just yet. For better or worse, he is at the heart of everything Phoenix, the vast majority of attacking play goes through him. The tried and tested line on Tony is, he doesn't need to be on the ice to get an assist is so true! Only 25 goals but 108 assists! The man frustrates the hell out of me when he will not shoot the puck, but more often than not he passes to someone else who will score! There have been some amongst the Phoenix faithful who have called for Tony to step down, retire or go completely, for me that's utter bull poo! If the Phoenix were ever to let Tony go, do they even have the money/ability to find another guaranteed 100+ point player? There are not many of those nocking around! During the first month or so of the offseason there was a rumor Tony would be leaving to take the reigns at Fife as they entered the EIHL for the 2011-12 season, I remember being shot down in flames on The Hockey Forum and on twitter for suggesting he wouldn't as he was under contract for the Phoenix until the end of that season. Lo and behold not only will he be staying, but he has signed an extension to that contract to keep him at the Phoenix for an additional three years. Im not one to gloat, but it felt good when that was announced! Long live Sir Tony!

The Budgie Rating: Cant be anything other than 10/10 for the legend!

Number 12 - James Neil
Played: 54, Goals: 3, Assists: 11, Points: 14

One of the most popular guys on the Phoenix roster this past year, James spent his time on the third line with Tom Duggan and Sharp/Miller, that is, when he was not playing D on the top line and being part of the powerplay unit. James began the year playing his normal position but, as Ben Wood has done so for many a season, became the Phoenix second, i'll play anywhere kinda guy! James maybe a small lad, but he was never shy of a hit or covering every inch of the ice. A nifty player with decent pace James could be disappointed with his point production this year but, as we all know, points are not the only contribution a player can make. James had a good season on the ice, and has become a firm fan favorite over the 54 games, and I know the vast majority will want to see him back next year. While he is not quite ready to make a regular contribution in an EIHL roster just yet, James will want to improve his ice time and stats next season. I really feel like the Phoenix will have a very strong second line next year, if so this will mean James will remain on the third line, but with regular appearances on the powerplay unit as he has done this season just gone. While the Phoenix could improve on James, a better player would have to fit in the overall budget, so that may not be possible. I would be more than happy to see James ice next season with the Phoenix, as he is immensely reliable. Plus he is another of the 'core group' of players i'd like the Phoenix to hold onto for a few years!

The Budgie Rating: 7/10.

Number 14 - Stephen Wallace
Played: 54, Goals: 25, Assists: 25, Points: 50

A player with silky skills, nearly a point a game, and maybe if you imagined Tony Hand at 75% you could well arrive at Stephen Wallace! Stephen is a solid second line player and excelled last season. One of my favorite players on the Phoenix roster, Wally is quick, can stick handle out of any situation near as damn it, and has become a very difficult player to take the puck from. He used his wicked wrist shop to great effect over the season, and deservedly became the second highest Brit scorer on the Phoenix bench. I will always remember when the Phoenix played the Phantoms on their last visit to the Ice Dome, Wallace had the puck right in front of Stephen Wall only to deak Wall and leave him on his ass. It's cruel to say it, but it looked hilarious! But that sums Wallace up, his hands are so quick he really can undress you and leave you for dead. A real quality Brit forward Stephen is always high up on my re-sign pecking order and, if the Phoenix want to retain their league championship, Wally's quality will be needed on the second line once again!

The Budgie Rating: 8/10.

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