With the Phoenix playing Telford in Shropshire on sunday, the usual home game of the weekend was bumped forward to saturday. I know it's not a major thing, but it does feel weird going to hockey on a saturday in Altrincham. Usually ends up with a confusing Sunday! Anyway, the first saturday home game of the season saw the visit of the struggling Phantoms. Im sure you will be aware but, just before the season began the Phantoms lost two players, one to the Steelers, and the other to a season long injury. That hurts teams at the best of times, but right before the first puck drop? That's devastating! The Phantoms have struggled so far this season, but Wall in net gives the Phantoms a chance, and it would be typical that the Phantoms get their A game together for the first time against the Phoenix!
The faithful filled the Ice Dome and, competing with Saturday night telly, we go under way!
First Period: It's not often the home team bench is more crowded than the away bench! Saturday night was one of those few times, the Phantoms starting the game with 11 skaters and two goalies. The Phoenix began brightly and controlled much of the play and chances. As usual, however, they came up against a superb Stephen Wall. Who must be, along with Ben Bowns, one of the top two or three goalies in the EPL. The Phoenix were playing ok, but not into gear fully, and Peterborough found a way to disrupt the Phoenix and not allow them too many clear chances on goal. The Phantoms cause was not helped when Glowa was ejected from the game with a 5 plus game for accidental highsticks on Slava Koulikov. 'Accidental High Sticks' has to be one of the silliest calls in hockey! An accidental penalty gets you thrown out the game, when deliberate attempts to injure (such as roughing, checking to the head etc...) will often only yield a minor penalty. Anyway, that's an argument for another day! The period ended with frustration in the Phoenix rank's and a wonder if this was going to be the Phoenix day!
Second Period: The second period began in the same vein as the first, the Phoenix with much of the play and Peterborough continuing to frustrate with their small bench. The Phoenix goal machine did finally get into gear and Martin Cingel got them off the mark after 22min 13sec. With Peterborough rolling just two lines the Phoenix pressed hard but could not find their way through, some shouts of frustrating beginning to be heard from the stands. Nerves were eased a little when Harabin got a deserving goal at 33min 52sec. As an aside, Harabin really has stepped up his game this season, he brings quite a bit of offensive skill to the ice along with his physicality in defence.
Third Period: With the short bench beginning to tell the Phantoms were dealt another blow when Rick Skene laid down and took a Spelda wrist shot to the helmet. All play stopped and both team doctors attended to Skene on the ice. Thankfully Skene took to his feet and was able to skate from the ice, with a fair bit of blood pouring from his head. Thankfully his helmet did its job and he should be ok! The Phoenix train really began to get going and they made it 3-0 when Faith scored after 50min 15sec. The referee had been doing his best to help Peterborough, I lost count the number of powerplays they had! It was on one of these powerplays when Faith was found up ice, skated in on Wall and fired an excellent shot past him into the net, timed 55min 44sec. With the Phantoms all but finished Spelda would add one final goal to make the scores a more realistic 5-0 at 58min 44sec.
Verdict: The Phoenix have yet to hit top gear and really gel as a team. Having said that they are still finding ways to pick up the points. This was not the prettiest of games or performances, but it was a good win in the end. Fone picking up a deserved shut out as well. Peterborough, while short benched, did not disgrace themselves, they worked hard and, unless you looked at the bench, you wouldn't have known they were so short of players.
Attendance: Slightly down, as saturday games usually are! I would guess at between 1 to 1,100 in the Ice Dome
Phoenix 5 Peterborough 0 - Phoenix Article
After the home win, it was Telford away for the Phoenix on sunday. Never an easy team to go and play. The game was tight for the most part with the score held at 1-1 all the way through open play. Then it was down to the lottery of penalties, this time, and after numerous attempts, Telford beat the Phoenix. While disappointed at loosing, it is still early season and the Phoenix are still getting better. So I will take 3 points from a weekend if offered! It's picking up as many points from a loss that can be key to winning trophies!
Telford 2 Phoenix 1 APS - Phoenix Article
Telford 2 Phoenix 1 APS - Telford Article
Telford 2 Phoenix 1 APS - CB Sport