The past weekend saw the Phoenix take on the Bees in Bracknell and the Basingstoke Bison in the Altrincham Ice Dome. Games against the Bees are no easy task nowerdays, after they poached the dangerous duo of Masa and Smital. That being said if you are able to deal with those two, you just have to contend with their physical play. Thankfully the Phoenix did the job and emerged with a credible 6-2 victory. The game will be remembers for Luke 'The Killer' Boothroyd handing it out to Scott Spearing and has instantly become a Phoenix hero!
Onto sunday and the not so insignificant prospect of the Basingstoke Bison, a team the Phoenix moved to the EPL with and one who the Phoenix enjoy many a good game. So far this season each side has been unable to beat the other in their own rink, weird!! The last meeting between the sides came in Bisonland and the Phoenix left the Basingstoke arena with the win. Back at the Dome you would hope for a home win, but history in this series, and the Phoenix current rollercoaster form spoke otherwise!
First Period: With recent games in mind the Phoenix faithful began the game with a certain edge or nervousness, that quickly disappeared as the Phoenix came out the blocks fighting. This was a physical performance from the Phoenix, they came out and worked hard, hit hard, and really dominated the opening stages. It would be no surprises then, that the Phoenix got on the board first, when Koulikov out the first goal on the board for the Phoenix at 3min 18sec, continuing his current hot streak. The Phoenix doubled their lead just after the ninth minute when Martin Cingel got on the scoresheet scoring from the back post off an excellent centering pass by Koulikov. Two goals up and, sadly, the Phoenix looked like they eased off and began to let the Bison back into the game. Kubenko who, had been quiet in the game so far, really came on in the latter half of the first period. He is big, very skillful and a dangerous player. He scored the Bison's first goal at 12.26 to make the scores 2-1.
Second Period: The second period would prove to be a killer, the Phoenix began to tire and commit some pretty bad mistakes in the defensive zone and leaving Fone out to dry. A 45 second spell at the halfway period of the game did it for the Phoenix. First Kubenko stepped up once again to score at 29min 17sec to tie the game. Then the killer, go ahead goal came from Joe Miller. Advancing down the far wing he moved past the Phoenix defence with ease, dragged the puck into the middle, waited for Fone to commit and slotted the puck easily into the open net. A real gutting goal and one that took the wind right out Phoenix sails.
Third Period: Damage limitation or a fight back? Despite loosing the lead the Phoenix tried to dig deep and get something from the game. They worked hard, but missing Hand/Wallace and other players not being 100% really began to show and the Phoenix tired. Within the first two minutes, however, the Ice Dome would see, possibly, the goal of the season. Its one worth checking out Phoenix TV from the 6th December just to watch it over and over again! Ladislav Harabin had the puck behind the Phoenix net, only to set off up the ice and deak/stick handle his way through the entire Bison line, while being slashed/tripped to slot the puck into the top right shelf while on his knees! A real show reel goal, and one that showcases his skill and strength! The home side on a high? Sadly the Bison would hit back and score, what would be the game winning goal, through Nicky Chinn at 46min 10sec. One goal down, going into the final minute, the Phoenix call a timeout and pull Steve Fone. The Bison also pick up a penalty so the Phoenix go 6 on 4, the 30sec with the advantage were spent in centre ice or the Phoenix zone as they never got set up. So a disappointing 4-3 loss in the end!
Verdict: Quite where and when this win/loss form will end for the Phoenix is anyone's guess. But with Wallace out till the new year and Hand unknown as to when he will return. The Phoenix injury crisis does not look like its going to end soon! The game was another frustrating one, a good first period, bad second, and a fighting/tired third period from the Phoenix against a Bison side they know they can beat. The Bison were good, not great, but played a good road game in frustrating the Phoenix. The most worrying aspect from the night for me, we had 500 newbies in the Ice Dome, who witnessed a bad loss, like the Slough game these home losses will start to hurt, As I've tweeted for a while, I would absolutely trade this good away wins for home wins right now!
Attendance: Boosted by the 500 newbies in the Ice Dome there must have been a crowd of 1,100 to 1,200 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix 3 Basingstoke 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 Basingstoke 4 - Bison Article
Phoenix 3 Basingstoke 4 - CB Sport