After the indifferent start to the season from the Phoenix, heading into this home/away set against the Flames, the Phoenix were riding high and confident on the back of an 8 game win streak, which kicked off after the last home win against Milton Keynes. During the run the team has looked confident and has regained some healthy bodies. In fact, Tony Hand is the remaining injury concern for the Phoenix, he is expecting to be back playing during February. The Flames are the current top team in the EPL, and every game between the Phoenix and the Flames (insert appropriate DragonFornce reference here!) usually are epic encounters. Two teams who like to play hockey and have rosters stacked full of talented players.
Early news from the game saw the Phoenix without Sir Toe Knee of Hand and the Flames were without Sharp (suspended) and Curtis Huppe (injured).
First Period: From the first faceoff both teams went right at it, the early exchanges were tough with either team only carving out a few chances each. The Phoenix did well to keep the likes of Towe, Remple et all quiet and keep Mark Lee in goal busy. Meanwhile in the Phoenix net Steve Fone was playing like a man possessed. Pulling off some awesome saves, coupled with some glaring misses meant the Phoenix were holding firm. It was the Phoenix who broke the deadlock and delighted the home crowd. With the puck circling the Guildford zone, Ben Wood found some space on the hash marks to fire the puck past Mark Lee, Ben's second goal in as many games coming after 9min 49sec. Ladislav Harabin is obviously an easy player for opposition clubs to target, throughout the first period he had been 'enjoy' the attentions of some Flames players. Imagine his joy when, at 16min 59sec, he rifled a shot home for a PP goal. One very happy Harabin!
Second Period: With the Phoenix holding a deserved two goal lead the second period developed into somewhat of a chess match. Both teams working hard and cancelling each other out. Both Lee and Fone making great stops in their goals. The Phoenix also benefited from some shoddy finishing from the Flames. Which is very uncharacteristic of them, but there were at least two chances in the period where the Flames really should have scored.
Third Period: Within the first minute of the final session the Phoenix made, what was to be a decisive score, just 25sec into the period Juraj Faith scored the Phoenix third goal of the game. This really knocked the stuffing out of the Flames and set off the Ice Dome crowd. The Phoenix began to dominate the play and a fourth goal followed on the powerplay from Slava Koulikov, a lovely slap shot too! With the game winding down the Phoenix tried to ensure a shutout for Steve Phone. Sadly this wasn't to happen when, at 56min 08sec Savage unleashed a ripper of a shot to the top left corner. That was one hard shot, it was in and out of the goal before anyone even knew! Still, if you had offered me a 4-1 victory and the 9th on the bounce before the game, I would have ripped your hand off!
Verdict: A fantastic win for the Phoenix over title rivals, the recent run has given the team so much confidence and it shows! The team work hard, connect well, and Fone is seeing the puck as a beach ball at the moment. A deserved victory and one that makes you wonder, had the Phoenix had a full bench to begin the season, what shape would we be in now?
Attendance: A large crowd in the Dome, as they usually are against the Flames, so i'll guess around 1,500 in the Dome.
Phoenix 4 Guildford 1 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 1 - Guildford Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 1 - CB Sport
The Phoenix then returned to Guildford the night after looking to extend the run top 10 games. Sadly this was not to be and the Flames ran out 5-2 winners:
Guildford 5 Phoenix 2 - Phoenix Article
Guildford 5 Phoenix 2 - Guildford Article
Guildford 5 Phoenix 2 - CB Sport