Bracknell have come into this season pumped up, a new team, a new budget, and two of Guildford's most potent ever players. The Bees are a better team by far this year and can no longer be taken for granted. The major upgrade came in the form of Martin Masa and Lukas Smital who came to the Bees from the Flames. Two players who seem to go everywhere together, and two very good players. These two have the ability to win games on their own, they will help the Bees convert many more games into wins this year!
Saturday saw the Phoenix make the journey down the M6 and M5 to Swindon to take on another, much improved team. The Jet's took Bracknells dynamic duo Pinc and Cesky and hope they will do for them, what Masa/Smital will do for Bracknell! Despite taking the lead the Phoenix struggled in Swindon and lost the game 4-2. A disappointing result, even with their improvements the Phoenix still have enough skill to win!
Anyway, onto Sunday and the chance for the Phoenix to right those wrongs and avoid a weekend whitewash!
First Period: The Phoenix took to the ice without injured defenceman Jaroslav Spelda, in his absence his spot on the blue line has been filled by Ben Wood, slotting back into his usual D role. The home side got off to the best possible start when Juraj Faith continue his hot scoring streak netting after just 64seconds. The early delight of scoring would have the shine taken off a little when Bracknell leveled the scores on the 3 minute mark scoring through Thomson. With each side trying to settle down and into their rhythm as soon as possible the Phoenix continued to create the early chances. The Phoenix got the go ahead goal on 5min 52sec through Stephen Wallace who, like Faith, is enjoying a rich vein of form at the moment. The Phoenix second line has been our best performers over recent weeks, that fact underlined by another goal for that group. This time Koulikov got the goal after 16min 02sec, a shot from the far wing on goal, possibly deflecting in of a Bracknell player.
Second Period: Like the first period, the Phoenix got off to another flyer. Their fourth goal coming at 21min 43sec, and again it was Faith who scored early. This made the scores 4-1 and, in typical Phoenix style, this is where the team eased off! With the talent Bracknell have it should come as no surprise, dear reader, that they hauled themselves back into the game. Their second of the night came at 31min 06 on the powerplay through Peter Jasik. Then, just over 2 minutes later, the Bees were within a goal. Lukas Smital scored the Bees 3rd at 33min 17sec. This stirred the Phoenix back into life and the period finished 4-3 Phoenix.
Third Period: So a good first period, a sleepy second, what would happen in the third? Thankfully it looked like Tony's interval chat had an effect and the Phoenix came back out with purpose. They worked hard to contain the Bees and go in search of another goal. That goal would come, and to much delight, a reward for the hard working third line. Tom Duggan scoring the Phoenix 5th at 50min 33sec. With the scores 5-3 the Phoenix looked to close out the game and with the Bees tiring the game ended with a victory for the Phoenix.
Verdict: 40 minutes of good hockey out of 60 may be ok against teams like the Bees, but against the likes of the Jets/MK and Guildford that won't be enough. It was pleasing to see the overall performance tonight, the Phoenix had been in a little bit of a slump and this game showed the fight/desire is still there. I genuinely could not have picked a MOM there were a few candidates! The other main positive I can take out of the game was a reward, finally, for the third line. They work so hard every shift without, necessarily, getting any reward. Tom's goal will do them the world of good! What's also good to see is Faith's form continuing on an upward trend. Hopefully this will silence some of the doubters!
Attendance: Another solid crowd in the Dome, i'll say 1,200 in.
Phoenix 5 Bracknell 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Bracknell 3 - Bracknell Article
Phoenix 5 Bracknell 3 - CB Sport