The Phoenix traveled to Sheffield saturday night for the final game in their series against the Steeldogs. As we have come to expect the game was not without controversy. Reports suggest the Steeldogs first goal should not have stood after it was put into the net after the referee's whistle had been blown. Dodgy referee's would be the theme of the weekend! In the end the game ended 2-1 to Sheffield which meant the 6 game series was tied at 3 a piece.
Sunday was the second half of a very tough weekend of games. The Slough Jets are a team that have blown a little hot/cold of late but still contain great offensive talent in Pliskouskas and Calder. The game would give the Phoenix a chance to level their mini series with the Jets. Going into the game it looked like Tony Hand would not ice but the Phoenix could bid a warm welcome back onto the ice for Slava Koulikov.
First Period: Games against Slough can be good to watch, they have some skillful players, they also have some idiots. This game would be a mixture of both and an early incident looked to have set the tone. Approaching 8 minutes into the period Slava Koulikov took a high stick to the head on the Slough blue line and went down injured. With the crowd baying for a whistle the Jets went up the Phoenix end and scored. Credit to Slough for playing to the whistle, but the sense of injustice in the crowd was understandable. I thought the ref would always whistle if there was an injury to the head? Sadly Thompson proved he was out of his depth and fluffed that big call. It set the tone sadly, the Phoenix just couldn't get back into the game, almost worried at what Thompson wouldn't call. With Koulikov off the ice with a bad injury, and struggling to settle the Jets made it 2-0 at 17min 08sec on the powerplay when Connolly scored.
Second Period: The Phoenix got the best possible start in the second when Spelda scored just 11sec into the period. The Phoenix continued to work hard but the Jets frustrated at every turn. Despite that early goal no further goals were scored in the second period.
Third Period: The first 10 minutes of the period was where the Jets killed off the game. At 42min 48sec Pliskouskas got his first of the night on the powerplay. His second came with less than 10 minutes to go at 50min 57sec. With the score now 4-1 Slough a win looked unlikely for the Phoenix, could they force OT? They were given a boost when Faith scored a powerplay goal at 55min 52sec but Pliskauskas buried those hopes with his hattrick goal less than a minute later. With the scoreboard reading 5-2 Jets the game was over and a disappointing weekend was consigned to the books.
Verdict: A poor game and a poor weekend from the Phoenix. Sadly it offered a chance to really cement 2nd place but all it has done is to bring Sheffield/Slough right into the mix. As for the league the loss handed the EPL title to Guildford. To be fair they deserve it, the most consistent team all year and a team fortunate enough to be able to cover injuries! Im not bitter! Congratulations Guildford, and to Curtis Huppe and the anti-christ himself Andrew Sharp for back to back EPL titles.