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