The 2011/12 EPL season is nearly over! Sad to say but last weekends games signalled the penultimate weekend of league hockey for this season. With the league title gone to Guildford the Phoenix went into the weekend looking to sure up 2nd spot. An easy weekend for the Phoenix hey? A not so insignificant trip to Swindon saturday night, a place where the Phoenix have not won this season and a home game versus the newly crowned Guildford Flames. See an easy weekend!
The Phoenix had been faltering a little of late, so the result saturday night was pleasing as it showed the Phoenix could go into a tough rink and get a result. A tight 5-4 victory ensure the Phoenix got the weekend off to a good start. With Sheffield and Slough winning, two points in Swindon were a must. The Flames slipped up and lost at home to the Bees, bit of a championship hangover? Possibly, but probably more the Bees desire to secure that last playoff spot!
Going into sundays game the Phoenix were within 6 points of the Flames, the tantalising proposition was, beat the Flames and the Phoenix could.....could end the season tied at the top! Only if the Flames continued their loosing run.....unlikely! A sunny sunday saw a bumper crowd turn out at the Ice Dome for another instalment of Phoenix/Flames hockey. For the rest of this review, I want you to be humming 'Through the Fire and Flames' by DragonForce!
First Period: The game kicked off with a recognition and a big cheer for the Flames becoming EPL champions, a classy move and, with the way the Phoenix faithful responded, one that makes me proud to be a Phoenix fan! Throughout the initial exchanges the Phoenix looked good, a glimpse of what may have been had we a full roster all season! They were quick, passes were crisp and the home side managed to carve out the majority of chances throughout the period. Only to find Mark Lee in bloody good form in the Flames goal. That being said, Guildford were not out of it, they showed how dangerous they can be on the break and their superior strength in depth. No goals came from the period, but the fast paced hockey was a joy to watch.
Second Period: For the Phoenix it was a case of, do what you did in the first, the goals will come! The home faithful were rewarded when Juraj Faith got the scoreboard moving with a sweet goal at 27min 07sec. That lead was doubled 90sec later when the hard working Josh Ward persevered around the net to score the Phoenix second, that one coming at 28min 44sec. The Phoenix third came on a powerplay, after a few false starts the Phoenix got set up in the Flames zone and began to cycle the puck. Eventually it made it back to Spelda on the point who unleashed a bomb on Lee and the puck just went right through him! That goal timed at 35min 03sec. With the score 3-0 Phoenix the Flames woke up and found their scoring boots! Both times capitalising on powerplay opportunities, in the space of 2 minutes spanning the period break the Flames were right back in it, and the Phoenix fans were wondering how the Phoenix grip on the game had been loosened. The Flames first came from Kohut at 38min 27sec and..........
Third Period: .....their second came 42sec into the third period when Melicherik capitalised on some poor Phoenix defense. So a 3-2 hockey game with the majority of the third period to go. Game on! With Sheffield and Slough both staring losses in the face this was an ideal game for the Phoenix to lock up second place. thankfully calm heads were found on the Phoenix bench and the next goal would come for the home side. Martin Cingel getting a powerplay goal at 42min 15sec to calm frayed nerves. The insurance goal came midway through the session when Cingel, again, scored to make it 5-2 Phoenix at 49min 45sec. It was this point where the game began to ease off, the game won, thoughts in both camps started to look towards the playoffs.
Verdict: My view on the game can be summed up by, what I said on the podcast and on twitter, 'I so enjoy these games of HOCKEY'! In truth the motivation wasn't there for the Flames...they didn't 'need' the win but the Phoenix did! That being said the Phoenix deserved the two points, I just hope the newbies in the big crowd were sold on hockey! That game was a great advert for it!
Attendance: Biggest crowd of the season, i'd say around 1,800 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix 5 Guildford 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Guildford 2 - Flames Article
Phoenix 5 Guildford 2 - CB Sport