The Angry Budgie Live

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Phoenix v MK Lightning 19th February Game Review

After the EPL Cup Semi-Final game versus the Guildford Flames the Phoenix faced the second of their tough weekend double header, against the MK Lightning. Games against MK are always tough, even though going into this game the Phoenix held a 4-1 series lead over the MK Lightning, the game would not be given to the Phoenix. MK are a skilful side but, will often sacrifice that side of the game for physicality if the result is going the wrong way. The Phoenix would need to win, if only to keep up the pressure on Guildford but, to also increase the space versus one of their title rivals. The key for the Phoenix would be to hit the ground running and get a goal early. Mettam/Hollyhead are very good goalies but, prone to mental walkabout's/shaky confidence if you score on them early!

First Period: The Phoenix exploded out the blocks and caught MK completely off guard. That, along with MK possibly underestimating the level of physicality the Phoenix could play with, saw the home side almost seal the game in the first ten minutes. By the 9th minute in the game the Phoenix were three goals to the good. After just 129 seconds Ciaran Long notched another for the third line and got the Phoenix rolling. Juraj Faith got the first points for the top line after 6min 05sec and Tom Duggan capped off the awesome start just before the 9th minute. MK called a time-out the steady the ship, no doubt reeling from the impressive start for the Phoenix. MK slowly got into gear and got up to speed over the remaining 10 minutes of the period. With the home side 3-0 up, all the Phoenix had to do for the rest of the game was to match MK.

Second Period: This was a more competitive period of hockey, the MK players had now got rid of their bus legs and had the proverbial fired up their backside during the first intermission. In many ways the next goal was key, MK score it and they are back in the game with a sniff, Phoenix get it and the mountain gets even bigger for MK. So, the Ice Dome erupted just under two minutes into the second period when Harabin scored at 21min 51sec to extend the Phoenix lead to 4. Chances were more restricted during the period and, finally, some pressure from MK would yield a goal. Grant McPherson scoring MK's first goal at 26min 50sec. No further goals followed in the period and the period ended 1 goal a piece.

Third Period: So MK had just 20mins to overturn the deficit, the initial exchanges in the final session mirrored that during the second period. A few clear chances but both goalies were in good form. MK had a spell of good possession and control and newboy Tikkanen scored their second of the game at 53min 32sec. The score now stood at 4-2 which got MK going. Towards the end of the game MK became more frantic in search of the elusive two goals to force OT. The Phoenix stood firm, Boother and the rest of the defensive corps working hard to limit the clear chances and help Fone out on any rebound. Going into the final 90 seconds the Phoenix picked up a penalty to give MK the advantage, James Neil heading to the box. With a minute to go Hollyhead was pulled giving MK a 6 on 4. MK cycled the puck well but the Phoenix closed the shooting lanes then, with Martin Cingel high in the zone, the puck broke to him and he scored the empty net insurance goal with 30sec left in the game.

Verdict: A great win for the Phoenix. MK Lightning always offer a stern examination of the Phoenix but, this year, the Phoenix seem to have their number. Especially at home in Altrincham. The valuable two points increases the game versus the Lightning and means the Phoenix end the series with 5 wins to MK's one.

Attendance: A pretty good crowd in the Ice Dome with a large away following. Im going to say 1,100 in!

Phoenix 5 - MK 2 - Phoenix Article

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Phoenix v Guildford Flames 18th February Game Review - EPL Cup

The Phoenix had a rare double home weekend this past saturday/sunday the first half of which served as the EPL Cup first leg against the Guildford Flames. The winner of the tie would go on to face the Sheffield Steeldogs in the two legged final, after they emerged from their double with MK with a single goal scored over their 6 periods of play. The Steeldogs present a tough challenge for either the Phoenix or the Flames but each side had their own 6 period semi-final to play. So far this season the Flames have a 3-2 series lead over the Phoenix and both sides are pretty evenly matched. One thing is for certain, as every game versus Guildford has been, the following 6 periods of hockey will be great adverts for the sport.

First Period: As befitting all previous games between the two clubs the early exchanges were pretty even and played at a fast pace. The Phoenix possibly edging the first session. In a testament to how evenly matched both clubs are and, how important the next 6 periods of play are, neither team could make the breakthrough. Both goaltenders putting in a fine performance keeping the offensive fire-power on the ice quiet. Neither side could create clear cut chances and, possibly, the best chance of the period fell to Andrew Sharp of the Flames. It's possible anyone else would have scored, the puck found Sharp on the far post in acres of space, his tame shot was well saved by Fone's leg pad. Credit to Sharp for finding space though!

Second Period: The second continued where the first left off, both sides playing fast and hard hockey with goaltenders up to the job. The Flames would draw first blood in the scoring stakes when new boy (or old boy really) Jozef Kohut fired the Flames into the lead, scoring at 35min 14sec. The goal didn't not ignite the Flames and the contest remained tight. Both sides creating a number of chances, though few were clear cut. A few off passes by either side just took the shine off a number of moves which, on another day, would have resulted in goals. Equally frustrating was the referee, being totally inconsistent for both teams.

Third Period: This is where the game got going! If the Phoenix are to go through to the final then a close score would be needed. A win would be ideal, but the Phoenix couldn't head south with a deficit. Their record in Guildford this season is not great so history is not on their side. The Phoenix got off to the best possible start by scoring an early goal with Archer continuing his fine form of late with a goal at 43min 19sec. Guildford veteran David Longstaff put the Flames back ahead at 52min 48sec only for Ciaran Long to tie the game less than a minute later. The 2-2 goal coming at 53min 39sec. The period ran out with neither side able to find a leading goal.

Verdict: A great game to watch and one the Flames will be the happier camp. Im sure the Phoenix would have preferred to be taking a lead down to the Spectrum a tie boils it down to a winner takes all game. The Phoenix worked hard and, on balance, deserved a lead, a one goal lead would, probably, have been the fairest result. Credit to Guildford though, they are not at the top of the table for no reason! They work hard and, when passes connect, can be a great team to watch. The Phoenix have the tougher task in the 2nd leg, getting a result in Guildford, but stranger things have happened!

Attendance: A little disappointing for a cup semi-final I have to admit, i'd guess at around 7-800 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 2 Guildford 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 2 Guildford 2 - Guildford Flames
Phoenix 2 Guildford 2 - CB Sport

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Phoenix v Telford Tigers 11th February Game Review

Last weekends hockey action was back-to-front for the Phoenix, a home game saturday night to the Tigers followed by a tough away game to the Steeldogs sunday night. The Tigers are struggling this season but, one thing you know you will get from them is a tough ride. With Declan Ryan in goal the Tigers always have a chance in their games, but the team in front tend to allow alot of shots! You can be the best keeper in hockey but, the law of averages says your going to conceed. This years Tigers have not been helped by lacking their full import quota and a recent new import jumping ship before he'd even iced! Poor form on his part!

Anyway the Tigers came to the Ice Dome to take on the Phoenix on a cold saturday night in Altrincham.

First Period: The contest began with the Phoenix making the early headway only to find Ryan in his usual top form. Roared on be the hardy few from Telford the Tigers tried to assert some pressure but were not able to string together a concerted period of pressure. Thinking about the Tigers fans from saturday night, thank you for coming and supporting your team, but when you chant could you sound like your saying Tigers a little more than Slough Jets please? Thanks! Anyway the Phoenix broke the deadlock when Koulikov scored at 8min 07sec during a period of 4 on 4 hockey. Harabin doubled the lead at 14min 53sec when a shot from the blue line found its way in while no one else saw it! The reaction from the goal light going on to the crowd cheering was hilarious! Cingel made it a comfortable 3-0 lead for the Phoenix just before the break at 18min 26sec. The game result looking inevitable even at this early stage.

Second Period: To get an idea of what the second period was like, re-read the paragraph above! Phoenix got the early goal in the period at 22min 27sec when Ryan Johnson got a rare goal venturing forward. Tom Duggan underlined his excellent season so far with a short handed effort at 29min 20sec. This goal really knocked the stuffing out of the Tigers and heads did go down. Duggan would get his second, the Phoenix sixth, at 37min 39sec and it really was a goal of beauty, one to check Phoenix TV for!

Third Period: Telford changed netminders at the beginning of the third period with Greg Blais coming in for Ryan, Blais was great for the Tigers, he really tried to direct from the goal and gee the team up. Sadly it didn't have much effect! The Phoenix scored first in the period when Josh Ward got his first in Phoenix colours at 46min 05sec. Approaching the 9min mark in the period it was the Phoenix turn to change netminders and, for the second home game in a row, El-Hage came on to get some valuable ice time. The Phoenix scoring continued and Ciaran Long was the next to score at 49min 03sec. Juraj Faith got the Phoenix 9th of the game at 50min 41sec and after a Phoenix timeout the home side eased off. El-Hage worked hard in goal and looked to be enjoying his time out on the ice, sadly he couldn't hold out for the S/O and the Tigers did find a breakthrough with Tomas Janak getting the Tigers on the board.

Verdict: A big 9-1 win for the Phoenix and in the end, a comfortable win. The Tigers did look quite demoralised in the third period, and I don't know what their solution is. Tigers games so far this season have been characterised by their hard work and in-your-face attitude. Last saturdays fame didn't have much of that, maybe that was the key for them. The weekend didn't turn out well for Telford, as they suffered a second heavy loss to the Phantoms sunday night.

Attendance: An average crowd for the Phoenix this season, saturdays are not our usual hockey nights! I'll guess around 900 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 9 Telford 1 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 9 Telford 1 - CB Sport
Phoenix 9 Telford 1 - Tigers Article

The Phoenix then traveled across the Pennines to take on the Steeldogs:

Steeldogs 2 - Phoenix 1 - Sheffield Article
Steeldogs 2 - Phoenix 1 - Phoenix Article
Steeldogs 2 - Phoenix 1 - CB Sport

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Phoenix v Swindon Wildcats 5th February Game Review

With the #Phoenixtrain back on track after its momentary stop against the Bees, last weekends games would present a tough task for the Phoenix to get rolling again. The Phoenix faced an away trip to Milton Keynes amidst the snow and a home fixture versus the Swindon Wildcats. Despite the snow the game in MK went ahead and the Phoenix left the Thunderdome with another good win against the Lightning. This time by a score of 3-1.

Sunday saw the visit of the Wildcats, a much improved team versus the 10/11 version. Mainly due to the addition of former Bees favourites Csesky and Pinc. Two good players, but players who have short tempers! Swindon are a team with a great top line, but not much offensive punch after that, that being said the rest of the squad work hard and never give you a night off!

First Period: This proved to be a frustrating 20mins for the Phoenix, from the first puck drop they dominated possession and the number of chances. With some great work the Phoenix carved out some opportunities, but credit to Swindon they kept the Phoenix from centre ice and limited the home side to long shot which Ambler could save with ease. Throughout this early pressure the odd defensive slip ups from the Phoenix gave Swindon their chances. In fact it was on their 4th breakaway attempt the Wildcats went against the flow of play and scored. Well, you give a side enough chances to practice, one of them will come off! So after 16min 51sec the Wildcats took their chances, seizing and a sloppy pass Hoog picked up the puck and fired the Wildcats into the lead.

Second Period: The goal and the first interval really gave the Phoenix chance to re-group and begin the second with a whack. The second session would see the Phoenix take the game the scruff of its neck and almost decide the game there and then. Four un-answered goals blitzed the Wildcats and would see the Phoenix end the period 5-2 to the good. James Archer who, had been struggling for goals, shrugged that monkey off his back and then some. Scoring a 10minute natural hattrick James ripped up the ice, in fact when he got the puck in the hash marks for his third you just knew it was going in! Prior to his goal madness Ladislav Harabin got the Phoenix off the mark with a powerplay goal at 20min 22sec. Exactly the start the Phoenix wanted. James Archer's goals came at 21min 44sec, 30min 24sec and 31min 27sec. Swindon would not be left behind and made sure the Phoenix couldn't sit back and relax just yet scoring their second at 32min 20sec through Nell. Ciaran Long added another marker just before the end of the period at 39min 15sec and a just reward for his efforts so far in the game.

Third Period: With the score at 5-2 the third would just require the Phoenix to ease out the game for the two points. Swindon had other ideas, and (number 23, don't know his name so emails would be appreciated!) stepped up to reduce the arrears to two goals at 42min 49sec. Much of the basis to the Phoenix turn around in fortunes has been the strength in depth. The vast majority of goals on this recent run have come from our second and third lines. So when Stephen Wallace scored a powerplay goal at 56min 23sec it really underlined the second lines contribution for the Phoenix. So pleasing to see the goals spread and great to see Archer back amongst the goal scorers!

Verdict: A potentially tricky game navigated with ease by the Phoenix. From the first puck drop I thought Swindon were playing very very well, and deserved to take the lead. However I always thought the Phoenix had a fair few gears to go through and, once a goal was scored, more would come. After a great win against MK the previous night, there can sometimes be a bit of a hangover come sunday. This wasn't the case and the Phoenix, on a cold snowy night, were on fire and scored a deserved 4 point weekend!

Attendance: Well the snow and ice did have an effect, a slightly smaller crowd than normal, i'll guess around 8-900 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 6 Swindon 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Swindon 3 - CB Sport
Phoenix 6 Swindon 3 - Wildcats Article

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Desert Dogs-a-Howlin' - January

Into 2012 and a tough month ahead for the Coyotes!

@Blues This would prove to be a tough game for Phoenix, the Blues on the back of a three game loosing skid faced the Coyotes who began a stretch of 10 games, 8 being road games. The Blues backlash began within 5 minutes of the first period and the Blues would end the first 2-1 up. Knowing how the Coyotes play the Blues got in their face quick, disrupted the play and got the lead early on. Coming into the second the next goal would be huge, and the Blues got it. Taking that 3-1 lead on the PP the Blues TJ Oshie but the game firmly in their hands. Into the third all the Coyotes could do was pressure the net, but St Louis held on and added an empty net marker with less than a minute to go. Final score Blues winning by a score of 4-1.

@Kings It says alot about the game when the top stars are the two goalies! The Coyotes rode into LA and came up against a resurgent Kings under the guidance of Darryl Sutter. A tight game with few chances can often be decided by a brilliant play, or a blown call. It has to be said the Coyotes got both, a massive glove save from Quick denied the Yotes early in the third during some great pressure. For the Kings to get some fortune after a missed call. The goalie interference by Johnson on Mike Smith, denied the chance of the save and the Kings found the winner in OT from Drew Doughty. Another loss, a frustrating one as the goal, maybe, shouldn't have stood. The only thing to hold onto, heading back to the desert was, the solitary point taken from the OT loss.

v Islanders Next up for the Coyotes, the visit of the struggling Islanders. This would be the Coyotes 19th home game of the season, coincidentally captain Shane Doan wears number 19....good omens maybe? Captain fantastic would be the star of the show and, after amassing over 1,100 NHL games and 305 goals the stars would align and Doan would get his hattrick. A slice of luck was needed too, with time running down Whitney had the puck looking for Doan and with less than 4.5sec in the game, the two connected for a goal. Or would it, the play went to review and, to the delight of those in attendance the goal was good! Phoenix needed this win, 5 one goal losses over the past 7 games hurts, so with Doan's hattrick and further markers from Ekman-Larsson and Pyatt the Phoenix dominated the Islanders.

@Rangers After a morale boosting win against one of New Yorks teams, the Coyotes headed north east to the big apple to take on the NHL's form team, the New York Rangers. Another tight game for the Coyotes the only goals of regulation didn't come until the third period. Fedotenko putting the blueshirts ahead only for Vrbata to bring Phoenix level. OT couldn't separate the two teams and, it seems, even penalty shots nearly couldn't! Going into the sixth round of shots Gaborik had to score to keep the Rangers alive, he did, and Derek Stepan clinched the extra point. So the Coyotes couldn't topple the leagues best tonight, but another point was secured.

@Red Wings No easy game for the Coyotes on this mini roadtrip! Rangers one night, now a trip to the Joe and the Red Wings. Phoenix coped well for this game and took the lead twice, but you know the Red Wings will keep coming. One goal is never enough, the Coyotes needed two, just couldn't get it! Vrbata and Pyatt put them ahead twice only for Filppula and Franzen to drag Detroit back into it. Like the previous night against the Rangers, OT couldn't decide the extra point and another shootout was needed. Six rounds were not needed tonight, just four! Henrik Zetterberg scoring for Detroit and, when Korpikoski's effort was saved Detroit got the other point!

@Blue Jackets After 'simple' games against the Rangers and Wings the Coyotes travelled to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. The Coyotes worked hard, but by the end of the second it wasn't looking good. 4-2 down after goals from Kubalik, Nash, Russell and Brassard for Columbus and goals from Aucoin and Korpikoski for Phoenix the Coyotes had to go all out in the third. Vrbata brought the Coyotes within one goal midway through the third but the 4th never came. Maybe the gas was running on empty but it wasn't for trying! A tough loss to take, especially after taking points from the previous two losses but sometimes the bounces just don't go your way!

v Avalanche Heading into this game the Coyotes have, primarily, played the first half of the season on the road, the second half, 21 of 35 will be played back in the desert. After loosing the previous three games the Avalanche were sure to be in-line for a reaction. Some reaction too! Doan got his 40th multi-goal game and six other Coyotes recorded multiple point games as the Coyotes crushed the Avs. Doan and Boyd Gordon had a pair Klesla got a goal and Gilbert Brule got his first goal as a Coyotes ensured Phoenix picked up the two points. Chuck Kobasew got the solitary marker for Colorado.

@Ducks After the big win against Colorado the visit to Anaheim was the big come down for the Coyotes. Since their last meeting the Ducks are much improved under Boudreau no long solely reliant on the top line the Ducks got scoring from across their roster. With the loss the Coyotes road streak extended to 6 losses, their worst since 2009. Anaheim were 4-2 up going into the third period and shutout the Coyotes, scoring twice themselves to rout Phoenix 6-2. Francois Beauchemin lead the way with 3 points, Langkow and Chipchura getting the two goals for the Coyotes.

v Red Wings The Coyotes kicked off a 6 game homestand with the visit of the Red Wings to the arena. After watching the game, its amazing how many Red Wing's fans their are in Phoenix. Why don't they go more often, and not just turn out for Wings games? Anyway the Wings are a good team and would be difficult to beat. The game saw the Phoenix fourth line stand tall and score the goals. Ray Whitney and a second for Brule cancelled out goals for White and Bertuzzi for Detroit. OT, again, couldn't separate the teams and another shootout was needed. No goals scored in the first two rounds but a lovely effort from Bertuzzi secured the win for Detroit.....again! The homestand kicked off, but sadly with a loss!

v Lightning The Lightning came to town and for Mike Smith a chance to renew old acquaintances, especially with Roloson in goal for Tampa. The Lightning turning to the 42 year old as they are depleted on numbers. It would be a night of banging their heads against walls for the Coyotes, being 4-1 down by the end of the second it was obviously not going to be a good night for the Coyotes. Having said that, 40mins of frustration replaced by 20mins of a little success brought the Coyotes within one goal of sending it to OT. Ray Whitney scoring a PPG with just 4 mins to go gave the Coyotes a chance but the Lightning, and Roloson in particular, stood tall the secure the win.

v Senators The Senators came to town and, so did Kyle Turris, the contract hold-out was booed on every shift and nailed on his first foray onto the ice. The Coyotes needed to re-group after the poor loss to Tampa and respond with a performance. That, they got! Mike Smith putting in a stellar effort to give them the chance, the Coyotes were 2-1 up going into the third through goals from Brule and Doan. An early marker from Vrbata, giving some breathing room in the third was quickly cancelled out by Chris Neil made the third a tense affair. The Coyotes caught some luck when a Senators goal was disallowed and, with the win, the Coyotes snapped a 10 game one goal loss streak that had been building up!

v Ducks Despite early control the Coyotes were unable to remain so for the full 60 minutes. Badly struggling for some consistency the Coyotes sank to another loss on home ice, and a second in a row to the Ducks. Ray Whitney put the Coyotes ahead, but a devastating hattrick from Andrew Cogliano in the second period ripped the game from the Coyotes grasp. With the wind well and truly taken from their sails the Coyotes had no answer in the third. The Ducks got one more marker through the evergreen Teemu Selanne as the Ducks left the desert with a 4-1 win.

LinkThe Coyotes ended the month with a 3-5-4 record.