The Angry Budgie Live

Friday, 25 November 2011

Phoenix v Peterborough Phantoms 20th November Game Review

I do apologise with the lateness of another match report, really must give my self a rocket up the proverbial and get them online in a more timely fashion! Anyway, the past weekend saw the Phoenix take on the Peterborough Phantoms in a away/home series. The Phoenix traveled down to Peterborough saturday night and took the lead, before the Phantoms took over. It looks like the Phoenix ran out of steam and the Phantoms ran out 3-1 winners. Another loss for the Phoenix and possibly the team hitting rock bottom?

Sunday night gave them the best chance to right that wrong and get back on track. Sunday's warm up also saw Jaroslav Spelda take to the ice, however he did not ice in the game. Still encouraging signs as it shows the Phoenix injury list is going to get smaller soon! The Phantoms always present a tough nut to crack, mainly because of the most aptly named goalkeeper in hockey, Stephen Wall. On a hot night he can be unbeatable, he gives the Phantoms a chance to win every game they play. A big, mobile, guy he fills the goal and can be a right pain! Sunday night would be a tough test for the Phoenix!

First Period: The Phoenix came out the blocks flying and really took the game to the Phantoms. The lines were, again, being mixed up due to absentee's and, with Tony on the bench it gave him a chance to see how the team plays. Maybe even see some of the frustrations we see in the stands. Anyway the Phoenix were testing Wall in goal and showed some desire and hunger. A much improved performance! The first goal came within the first 5mins with James Archer getting a deserved goal for all his efforts. His goal timed at 4min 40sec. The period continued well for the Phoenix and Slava (Dave) Koulikov netted another goal for the Phoenix at 16min 10sec. Slava is really beginning to up his point production now. The period ended 2-0 to the Phoenix.

Second Period: Could the good form last, or would the Jekyll and Hyde Phoenix return. Thankfully the good form of the first period continued in the second. Juraj Faith has performed very well being moved back into his more natural centre position, note to Sir Tony, why not spread the top line talent with Faith's improved performance in mind! Tom Duggan got a fair fe shifts at centre on the top line, with Faith rotating through lines 2 and 3 in the middle. Worked very well too! The Phoenix scored the next goal of the game when Faith found Cingel at 25min 40sec to make it 3-0 Phoenix. The period continued and the Phoenix continued to pressure the Phantoms, Tom Duggan made it 4-0 Phoenix with another goal to reward his constant good efforts on the ice. His fifth of the season coming at 36min 55sec.

Third Period: With the game at 4-0 the Phoenix eased off and looked to ride out the game and get the two points. The Phantoms threatened but never really tested Fone in goal. A few chances came the way of the Phoenix but Wall stood up to them and kept the Phoenix at bay. Only one goal came in the period and, sadly, it was to break a prospective shutout for Fone. Luke Ferrara was found in the hash marks and blasted the puck high into Fone's top left corner with around 4mins to go in the game.

Verdict: Great to get a win, great to see Spelda out on warm up but, even more important, a great performance from the Phoenix. The Phantoms have often proved to be a difficult opposition for the Phoenix and following on from the loss saturday night, heads could have been down. I must echo what, Nigel said on the podcast during the intervals, maybe the loss in Peterborough was rock bottom for the Phoenix. Maybe it forced them to think, this is not good enough, and forced them to re-focus and up their game. What ever happened, it worked! With that performance, and some bodies coming back from the injury table, thinks are looking a bit brighter for the Phoenix!

Attendance: A little lower than usual, maybe recent results had taken their toll, so i'll guess at around 1,000 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 4 Peterborough 1 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Peterborough 1 - CB Sport

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Phoenix v Telford Tigers 12th November Game Review

In a week of un-usualness the next home game for the Phoenix saw the visit of the Telford Tigers to the Ice Dome. After the fallout from the Sheffield game thursday night, the main hope for the Phoenix faithful would be, a return to some form. While Telford had been struggling they, along with Sheffield, can be a difficult team to play. In fact earlier this season the Tigers had scored a win over the Phoenix in Shropshire after penalty shots.

Going into the game the Phoenix injury list had not gotten any shorter, with Spelda out, Stephen Wallace joined him on the sidelines finally scumming to a wrist injury which means he could be out of the lineup for up to 6 weeks! It never rains, it pours!

First Period: It was a very sombre mood at the Ice Dome saturday night, most Phoenix fan's still in shock from thursday nights fallout. For me, the important thing to come out of tonight's game would be the performance. The Phoenix had to show, and against a tough opponent like Telford, that they could pick themselves up and fight for a game. Thing's did not begin well, Stephen Wallace was ruled out of the game and for up to 6 weeks with a fractured wrist. Bloody great news that!! Anyway, the Phoenix hungry for the ice, and exploded in the first period. They looked fresh, quick and with the lines shuffled, due to injruy, quite creative! Those first 20 minutes saw 6 goals and the Phoenix race to a 4-2 lead. I'll just list the goals instead:

Phoenix, Cingel 4min 49sec
Phoenix, Harabin 6min 06sec
Phoenix, Archer 9min 08sec
Telford, Janak 13min 05sec
Telford, Soar 17min 08sec
Phoenix, Wood 19min 02sec

Highlight of the period was Ben Wood's goal at the 19min mark, from the point he took a wrist shot that went through at least 3 bodies and under Greg Blais in net. Just show's the value of putting a puck on the net to see what happens!

Second Period: The Phoenix blistering performance continued in the second and the Phoenix owned the twenty minutes that followed. The Period saw the Phoenix extend their lead to 8-2 and saw some goal light reward for two hard working, often unsung, Phoenix players. The first was Ciaran Long, who had worked hard all year with little reward finally getting a goal on home ice. Tom Duggan also picked up a goal, this just rewards for being the Phoenix MOM for a good few weeks now! Plus an honourable mention must go to Martin Cingel for completing a hattrick.

Phoenix, Long 23min 22sec
Phoenix, Cingel made by Koulikov 26min 34sec
Phoenix, Duggan 4 on 4 33min 55sec
Phoenix, Cingel hattrick 35min 48sec

Third Period: In true Tony Hand fasion the Phoenix eased up in the third period and, coupled with an injury, let the Tigers back into the game. With the lines rotating already, things were not helped when Tony Hand took a shot to the ankle which forced him out of the game. Up until this point, Faith/Cingel had been rotating onto lines with the younger Brits to spread the talent. After Tony's exit the lines were all over the place! Much of our creativity comes through him, so the last few minutes were a struggle! The Phoenix scored one more to make it 9 before Telford hit three un-answered goals in 8 minutes to make the score 9-5.

Phoenix, Harabin 43min 16sec
Telford, Henry 46min 23sec
Telford, Bruce 52min 46sec
Telford, Janak 54min 55sec

Verdict: For 50 minutes we got what we wanted, a performance from the Phoenix. I thought Blais in Telford's goal will admit he has had better games and had Declan Ryan been in goal from the start the scores may have been different! The injury to Wallce forced Tony to rotate the top line, and it was working nicely. It was good to see the likes of Long/Duggan playing with Faith. Losing Tony was a blow, and we did struggle a little after he left the ice. I can only hope he is not out for long.

I think most of the Phoenix faithful are getting fed up of our injuries. I think the Phoenix have only played half a game with a full roster! That first War of the Roses against Sheffield until Gomeniuk knee'd Ciaran Long. Since then we have had Long out, Archer, Ward, Harabin, Spelda, Wallace and Tony Hand out of action. In all my time of supporting hockey I've never know a roster so decimated by injury and a team going so deep into a season without ever icing a full roster!

Attendance: Saturday night's are not our usual home nights, and maybe the Sheffield performance deterred a few. Having said that, the crowd was swelled by a couple of hundred Scouts and a Field hockey team, so i'll guess around another 1-1,100 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 9 Telford 5 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 9 Telford 5 - Tigers Article
Phoenix 9 Telford 5 - CB Sport

With Spelda out, Wallace out and now Tony Hand missing from the lineup it's no surprise sunday's long trip down to Guildford was a disappointing one for the Phoenix!

Guildford 9 Phoenix 4 - Phoenix Article
Guildford 9 Phoenix 4 - Flames Article
Guildford 9 Phoenix 4 - CB Sport

Friday, 18 November 2011

Phoenix v Sheffield Steeldogs 10th November Game Review

A rare midweek game for the Phoenix saw the visit of the Sheffield Steeldogs for another instalment of the cross Pennine battle. Andre Payette brought his Sheffield team to the Ice Dome riding high in the EPL table. He has forged a very tough team to beat, they work hard and grind out games, with their star player Janis Ozonlins getting much of the limelight. Of course any visit of the Steeldog's allows the Altrincham faithful to reacquaint themselves with messers Morgan/Geomeniuk/Wood and Payette! Always a pleasure!

Anyway Sheffield came into the game higher in the table and looking good to end their duck against the Phoenix in the EPL.

First Period: Off we go then, from the outset Sheffield brought their physicality and hard work to the ice, and the Phoenix struggled. While each team created chances the Phoenix were never able to set up in the Sheffield zone and put continued pressure on Ben Bowns in goal. Sheffield, on the other hand, were relying on their top line of Wood/Payette/Ozonlins to produce, as their most creative play came through them. As the period progressed and the Phoenix struggled the Steeldogs scored two quick goals to really take the initiative. The first came after 3 and a half minutes with Greg Wood returning to haunt the Phoenix. Less than a minute later, that man Ozonlins, popped up to extend their lead. Begrudgingly Sheffield deserved the lead so far.

Second Period: This period carried on where the first left off, with Sheffield continuing to frustrate the Phoenix, they had a plan and it was working. The Phoenix were able to haul themselves back into the game by scoring on a powerplay. I think the sun's must have aligned or something! Ladislav Harabin stepping up and scoring after 34min 27sec. A fight back on the cards? Sadly not, the mini-Payette Greg Wood struck again to restore Sheffield's two goal lead scoring at 35min 28sec. Sadly the hockey took a back seat in this period to the disgusting 'hit' by Payette on Luke Boothroyd. Im not going to rant on here, I said my piece below, on our forum and twitter and that's the last of it!

Third Period: With the scores at 3-1 and just twenty minutes left, I honestly didn't think the Phoenix had enough time to bring it back and, to be honest, I was still fuming after the events in the second. The period passed with the Phoenix tiring and the Steeldog's antics continuing. Only one goal came in the period, Ozonlins again scoring after 54min 25sec. As time ticket by it was clear Sheffield would finally get their win over the Phoenix at the 23rd time of asking.

Verdict: This was a poor performance from the Phoenix, we were outworked and looked tired and well off the pace. That's not to say Sheffield didn't play well, this defeat to Sheffield had been coming. Sheffield looked hungry and got their win....however! I can only say what I said on twitter after the game, Sheffield may have finally got their win against the Phoenix, but they deserve no praise/respect with the way they went about getting it. I have never seen a team play so dirty and dangerous in my time watching hockey. The clothes-line by Payette on Luke Boothroyd in the second period was disgusting and down right dangerous. He could seriously have inflicted major damage and it is by a sheer miracle that Luke's head was still screwed on. Greg Wood is fast becoming a mini Payette, which is a big shame, given he is a good player! That aside, the poor performance from the Phoenix and the lengthy injury list taking it's told, it's no surprise Sheffield managed, finally, to beat the Phoenix.

Attendance: Midweek games are always a tough sell, still, I would say around 1,000 fans came out for the game.

Phoenix 1 Sheffield 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 1 Sheffield 4 - Steeldogs Article
Phoenix 1 Sheffield 4 - CB Sport

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Desert Dogs-a-Howlin - October

The 2011/12 NHL season is finally a go-go! Except no one in the UK can see it on their telly boxes yet! Im sure most of you will roughly know the current wrangling over the NHL's European TV rights deal, so I wont go into it. I'll only say, I do not want to watch the NHL on my computer, I want to watch it on my TV. So, the NHL and ESPN America have until the end of the month to get the NHL on our screens or I shall join the growing list of people who have binned their subscription!

*update* since writing that opening sentance and posting this, Premier Sports have signed a deal to screen live and as-live NHL games in the UK. So, ESPN America has been cancelled and 'hello premier sports' *update*

@ SJ Sharks,The Coyotes opened their season with a trip across to sunny central California to meet the Sharks by the bay, not the easiest of starts, but the Coyotes had one 5 of their previous opening day games. This time would be different, the offseason has not been kind to the Coyotes and they went into the game without their goalkeeping star Bryzgalov. In his place Mike Smith signed from the Tampa Bay Lightning, unfortunately for him, and the Yotes, they had the worst of starts. The Sharks rolled over the Coyotes 6-2, with Smith coming in for a peppering facing 52 shots! Combine that with 3 PP goals for the Sharks you can kinda guess this was a result the Coyotes will be keen to leave behind!

@ Stars, The Coyotes continued their season openers with another road game, this time in the big state, Texas. Where everything is done bigger and better....apparently! The Coyotes headed for Dallas to face the Stars, a team who are struggling as much as the Coyotes are. Perhaps because of this the game was not a barn burner, just 6,306 fans attended the game and witnessed a tight game. The Coyotes were just 27seconds shy of recording their opening win before Eriksson netted to send the game into OT and Penalties. The Coyotes would be disappointed once again as the Stars won the shoot-out and the extra point. At least, for the Phoenix, that visit to Dallas yielded a point and got them off the mark.

@ Nashville, So next stop for the Coyotes road trip was the season opener in the Bridgestone Arena Tennesse. A tough game with a sell out crowd hyped up by an emotional pre-game video tribute to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and to former Pred Wade Belak. The Predators may well have been too wrapped up in the video's as the Coyotes came out and hammered them in the first period. Launching to a 3-0 lead the Coyotes managed to silence the sell out crowd, a big achievement in itself! With LeBarbera in goal the Coyotes were able to keep out the Predators until over the halfway point, despite the s/o going the Coyotes shut down the Pred's and held on for a 5-2 victory. A good win for the Yotes against a talented Predator team, but for me, the stand out stat from the game is, 13 Coyotes players picking up points. The Coyotes do not have too many standout names, but with team production like that, they don't need to! I only hope the Yotes can keep up this kind of point production!

v Winnipeg, The father franchise of the Coyotes jetted into town to take on their transplanted offspring. There had been an exciting build up to this game, would the Jet's show that the NHL made a mistake re-locating them to Arizona? Or would the Yotes show their is life in the desert and life in the Yotes despite all the off ice troubles. A full arena greeted both teams, with a sizeable contingent of Jet's fans, the night would be noisy! Any hope the Jet's fans had of upsetting the Coyotes home opener were dispelled just 34sec into the contest. The Coyotes made the perfect start in silencing the Jet's fans and pumping their own up! Phoenix would control the game and run out 4-1 winners, with second year Oliver Ekman-Larsson having a great night with two goals. The other highlight was a great performance from Mike Smith, posting a 0.948 save percentage! On a night where a loss could have been spun so many ways, the Yotes came up big and put on an impressive performance. Hopefully some newbies in the sellout crowd were convinced to give the Desert Dog's another go!

v Chicago, Next up for the Yotes saw the Blackhawks come to town, this would be another tough test for the Coyotes as the Blackhawks bring a number of skilled players to the fight. The game began and both teams traded goals up until the end of the second period when the Blackhawks held a 3-2 lead. Going into the third the Coyotes performance on the PP sealed their fate in this game. Given two powerplay opportunities not only did they not score, they gave up a short handed goal. Those type of goals really get to me, so it is disappointing to see the Yotes fall victim. Being a Manchester Phoenix fan I know all about poor powerplay performances too! After the high of beating the Jet's this loss is so dissapointing, a good performance against a team like Chicago would have done the Coyotes confidence no end of good!

v Los Angeles, The Coyotes home stand ended with the visit of the LA King's, the Kings seem to be perennial under achievers, especially coming from the success hungry state of California! The Coyotes went into this game 1-1 during this home series and a good performance on home ice would be needed. Sadly that didn't come, and the Yotes were shut-out on home ice by a score of 2-0! For some reason, waking up to this score, im really disappointed with it, I think it's because, against the Blackhawks I didn't see the Yotes getting anything, but against the King's I felt good in hoping for a Yotes win. Reading the recap it sounds like it was a poor performance, not necessarily from Smith in goal, but the team in front. Iv'e got the game recorded so will have to make my mind up then. When the team are keen to improve crowds at the home games are important, and the Yotes are now 1 and 2 at home. That form has to improve, im sure it will, we are still in the early stages of the season!

@ Anaheim, The Yotes travelled to California for their first visit to Anaheim, a game against the Ducks offered the chance for Phoenix to forget about the home shutout versus the Kings. If anything, that game forced the Coyotes into a reaction. It looks like the Coyotes new attitude worked wonders as they forced Anaheim into 15 turnovers and a further 7 takeaways. With that sort of offence its clear to see how the Yotes managed to harry the Ducks into mistakes. The Ducks also pulled Hiller for Dan Ellis, another sign the Coyotes were doing something right! The biggest star of the night was Martin Hanzal, the defensive forward stepped up with a 4 point game with two goals and two assists. It's good to see the Coyotes spread the scoring too, with 4 scorers, including first goals for Yandle and Gordon.

v Dallas, The Stars came back to the Desert for the teams second meeting in a month, the Coyotes would try to get the win that they let slip in Dallas. With the last 6 meetings between them being decided by a goal it should come as no surprise this was another tight game. It was a tough game but the Yotes worked hard and a highlight of which was Shane Doan getting number 300! A fantastic milestone for any player in hockey, let alone the NHL! That goal also saw the Coyotes powerplay problems end, that marker being the first PP goal in 14 attempts! Being a Manchester Phoenix fan, I can understand a frustrating poerplay unit! Going into the last 90sec of the game, just like in Dallas, the Coyotes gave up the lead and the game ended 2-2. No further goals came in overtime and the extra point would be decided by everyone's favourite element of the game.....penalty shootouts! In the end it sounded like neither team wanted to score, 8 rounds.....thats right! It took 8 rounds of penalty shots before the Stars claimed the extra point! Im dissapointed with the loss, but at least the Yotes took a point from the game!

v Devils, After the heartache of another late slip against the Star's fresh in their minds the Coyotes needed to come up big against the Devils! Without Martin Brodeur the Devils luck in the desert was not on their side, without a win in Phoenix since 2003 and an all time record of 3-7-0 the omen's were good for the Yotes. They also got the first goal of the game giving them the early momentum, that goal coming from debutant Patrick O'Sullivan. Despite ending the first period 1-1 the Coyotes were well on top with 19 shots alone in the first session. With the scores tied the Coyotes went on to win period's 2 and 3 by a score of 2-1, giving the Yotes a 5-3 victory against a good New Jersey team. Ray Whitney got deserved recognition after the game thanks to a 3 point game. Despite Whitney entering the twilight of his career at the age of 39, he is having a fantastic scoring start to this season. Whitney and Doan currently lead the roster stats with 10 points each through the first 9 games of the season.

v Kings, After getting back to winning ways against the Devils the Coyotes entertained the Anaheim Ducks in the Jobing,com arena. The Coyotes penalty kill unti played a large part in this game, and helped the Yotes to a 3-2 overtime victory. The Coyotes penalty kill unit has now killed off 34 of the last 37 enemy powerplays, now running at 91.8%! Other big pluses for the Yotes was a big performance from Radim Vrbata who, re-united with Whitney and Hanzal, finished the game with two goals and one assist! Quite often over here in the EPL great goaltending gives you chances to win games. Just look at Stephen Wall for Peterborough and Ben Bown's for Sheffield. Both keepers who will shutout an opposition and win games if given the chance. Mike Smith, who has been much maligned since moving to the desert, put up great numbers and gave the Yotes a chance to win! His save % for the game coming out at 94.9%!

Coyotes ended the month 4-3-2

So that's it, the first Desert Dogs-a-Howlin blog post for The Angry Budgie. Let me know what you think, any changes I should make, anything I should/shouldn't talk about etc...! November's edition is already in the works!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Phoenix v Basingstoke Bison 30th October Game Review

The Phoenix went into the weekend just gone with a freekishly halloweeny injury list! More specifically the Phoenix were down both import defencemen due to injuries! With Spelda gone to an ankle injury Ladislav Harabin took a shot to the face abd will be out for a few weeks with a facial injury! To help cover Phoenix drafted in former Slough defenceman John Connolly. So a patched up Phoenix headed into one of the toughest weekends of the season with a pair of games against the Bison.

Against all odd's, and with a standout performance from Steve Fone the Phoenix went in and came out with a 5-2 victory. A result that I defiantly did not predict! To be honest, with the injuries, i did not expect the Phoenix to get anything from the weekend!

Basingstoke 2 Phoenix 5 - CB Sport
Basingstoke 2 Phoenix 5 - Bison Report

With many fan's dressed in their finest halloween costumes the faithful re-united at the Ice Dome for the second game of the weekend series. Would the Phoenix injury ravaged roster start to tire, or would the backs against the wall mentality see them through? Would the Bison avenge saturday's loss? All valid questions and those in the Ice Dome would see answered!

First Period: According to some in the home support, a trait of recent Phoenix performances has been the lack of physical presence on the ice. That could not be said of the Phoenix in the first period. For the most part the depleted Phoenix defence coped well with the Bison, the Phoenix were hungry and pressed Colclough into action between the pipes. Around the 10min mark the Phoenix went on the powerplay, in what would become a theme of the game, this was not a good thing for the Phoenix! The Bison scored a short handed goal after 10min 16sec. While the Phoenix struggled to set up in the Bison zone, the Bison broke up the ice quickly and Joe Miller scored. Despite the goal the period continued and both teams battled intensely. As the buzzer......well the whistle, as the long suffering Phoenix scoreboard decided to stop honking, went the Phoenix went into the locker room just a goal down.

Second Period: The second carried on where the first left off really. both teams battling hard. The Bison began to up the physicality and without retribution from the Phoenix or the referee began to really disrupt the Phoenix play. The Phoenix powerplay continued to frustrate too, be it a combination of the Bison's disruptive play or the Phoenix lack of ideas, over the course of the game the Phoenix only ever set up on the powerplay for 20sec or so! Rubbish! Towards the end of the period the Phoenix would pick up a penalty that would, effectively, end the game! Down on the near corner Ryan Johnson and Joe Miller went into the boards, with Johnson the only one to skate out. Johnson was assessed a 5 plus match (later downgraded to game) penalty for accidental high sticks. The most ridiculous call in the history of the world! You can go and injure someone with intent and be assessed a lower penalty than an accidental high stick! The Phoenix, now down to 3 defenceman would have to kill off a 5 minute penalty! This would decide the course of the game!

Third Period: As the third began the Bison scored! Steve Moria, of all people, stepped up and scored the Bison's second goal just 34sec into the period. For many people, myself included that was it! It was tough seeing the Phoenix scoring one goal let alone three to win! The Phoenix battled on but the lack of defencemen began to take it's toll. The atmosphere fell flat and it was disappointing to see, im sure the Phoenix were not far off in this game, it just needed a spark, it needed one of our star's to work a bit of magic and everything would explode into life! Sadly this didn't happen and, on another powerplay, things got worse! After another woeful attempt at a PP, the Bison grabbed the puck and went up ice. James Neil rushing back to assist Foney, Stephen saved the shot but the rebound, went directly at Neil who watched helplessly as the puck rebounded off his leg into the open Phoenix net. 3-0 and an absolutely killer goal, scored at 51min 09sec. Game over im afraid!

Verdict: Not quite the apocalypse as some on the Phoenix forum are saying! But not a vintage Phoenix performance either! The result down in Basingstoke was a surprise, and it was obviously too much to expect another! The Phoenix worked hard, but with depleted defensive corps, and then loosing Ryan Johnson at the end of the second really hurt the Phoenix! Yes the Phoenix top line lacked a little spark, but the Phoenix were not far off the pace and could have won the game had a little luck fell to the Phoenix! Nevermind, the Phoenix got through another weekend with some points! While the team is hurting, it is good to see the point totally ticking over!

Attendance: Quite a few ghouls and zombies in the Ice Dome helping create a decent atmosphere, i'd say a crowd of 1,100 turned up.

Phoenix 0 Basingstoke 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 0 Basingstoke 3 - Bison Article
Phoenix 0 Basingstoke 3 - CB Sport