Another weekend gone, another pair of games in the relentless EPL season ticked off! The Phoenix went into the weekend joint top with the Sheffield Steeldog's, who's start to the season is surprising alot of people! After the War of the Roses clashes I can see the Steeldog's doing well this year! They won't challenge for the title, but they will give every team a hard time in Sheffield! The Phoenix had a tough away game to Milton Keynes saturday night before entertaining the Swindon Wildcats sunday in Altrincham. Sadly the Phoenix struggled in MK loosing 5-2, still no shame in loosing to the Lightning in MK, they are a damn good side!
Sunday saw the Wildcats and their fans make the journey north up the M5 and M6 to Altrincham, Swindon are a much improved side, retaining Jonas Hoog was a coup for Aldridge and now, with the ex-Bracknell pair of Cesky and Pinc, and ex Jets coach Peter Russel on board the Wildcats are no pushovers!
First Period: After reports of the Phoenix being outmuscled in MK the Phoenix had to stamp their authority on the game. They did so and were able to restrict Swindon to a handful of early chances. Meanwhile Murdy in the Cats goal was 'doing a Bowns' turning away the Phoenix numerous attempts on goal. At times when the Phoenix got past Murdy Swindon were saved by the pipework. One particular chance fell to Faith who lasered a wrister high past Murdy only for the puck to hit the underside of the cross bar, bounce down, then out of the blue paint. The boisterous crowd in the Dome so close to celebrating a goal, and yet by the end of the first 20mins, none showed where it counts, on the scoreboard.
Second Period: Continued much like the first, with the Phoenix dominating the play and the few chances falling to the Wildcats being dealt with by Steve Fone, who was on another blinder of a performance! The Phoenix would break the deadlock in the second period when, Harabin went on one of his mazy forays up ice to combine with Mr Hand to find Martin Cingel on the back post, and with an authoritative whack, sent the Phoenix into the lead. That goal coming after 22min 57sec. The Phoenix doubled their lead on the powerplay just over two minutes later. The Phoenix moved the puck around the Swindon zone creating plenty of traffic in front of Murdy, as the puck cycled to Spelda on the blue line he unleashed a boomer of a slapshot which flew into the net. What a shot! One for the highlight reel certainly! The Phoenix made it 3-0 when Cingel got his second of the game at 28min 18sec on the powerplay. Swindon were struggling but they made sure the Phoenix were not going into the final period in a comfortable position. They broke Fone's shutout at 38min 40sec when Richardson scored their first of the game.
Third Period: Swindon really ramped up the pressure and tension in the third period when they scored 3 minutes into the period when Jan Melichar scored their second, to make the scores 3-2 Phoenix. The third period continued with both sides creating chances, the Phoenix still with the better of the play. Steve Fone outstanding in goal to keep the Cats out. Swindon called a timeout in the remaining few minutes and pulled Murdy for the last 60sec. The Phoenix were able to keep a high forecheck which limited Swindon's time in the Phoenix zone, and with less than 10sec left the puck broke to Spelda who sent the puck up ice, only to miss the goal by a fraction. Confusion follows as the buzzer sounds, and everyone prepares to leave. Only for 3 seconds to be put back on the clock as the puck was iced. Cue massive anti-climax as the puck was dropped and the 3 seconds wasted.
Verdict: So no 4 point weekend, but a home win secured for the Phoenix against an improved Swindon Wildcats. The Phoenix performances are slowly improving and the imports are beginning to find their feet. Harabin and Fone have continued their great start to the season, and Faith is gaining confidence in this league. Spelda, has truly announced his arrival with his booming slapshot! I was very happy with how the Phoenix managed to dominate the Cats for the majority of the game. Swindon, while they have improved, look to rely on their first line too much. I think most EPL sides will find them a tougher nut to crack, but if you shut that top line down, their is little else Swindon can hurt you with, famous last words eh?
Attendance: A decent crowd in the Dome, maybe a little less than against Basingstoke the week before, so i'll guess at around 1,100 in the Dome!
Phoenix 3 Swindon 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 Swindon 2 - CB Sport
Phoenix 3 Swindon 2 - Swindon Article