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