Last weekends pair of games saw the Phoenix take on a Telford Tigers double header, with the home game in Altrincham on the saturday. While the Tigers are rooted to the foot of the EPL table, their performances against the Phoenix show a team that is anything but! In Declan Ryan they have one of the best keepers in the EPL and he gives them a chance to win every game. The weekend would be the second in a row where the Phoenix have faced very tough lower league opposition, after splitting their previous weekend against the Wildcats.
So roll up roll up we have a saturday night of hockey action at the Altrincham Ice Dome!
First Period: I think it would be fair to say most people in the Ice Dome (Tigers fans excepted) expected the Phoenix to win, and win well. The first period certainly showed this would be a tough game and a tough weekend. Much like Swindon the weekend before the Tigers worked very hard. They closed down the Phoenix in the Tigers zone, kept the hashmarks clear and cleared the rebounds to frustrate the Phoenix. The Phoenix finally found the break through when Tony Hand scored his first since his return at 13min 27sec. No further goals came in the period, even though most of the play was in the Tigers zone.
Second Period: Much like the firs with Telford frustrating and the Phoenix unable to set up in front of net. The second, though, would see Telford come into the game, through their hard work and an increasing number of Phoenix errors. The sloppy errors were stray passes and lapses in concentration. The Tigers got on the board at 27min 35sec when 7 scored. The period continued and their was definite frustration growing in the stands as the Phoenix failed to force their dominance on the game. The Phoenix would take the lead though, when Ciaran Long scored at 35min 11sec. That lead was short lived them 77 scored for the Tigers 3 minutes later at 38min 06sec.
Third Period: After such a poor second period it really was all to play for in the final 20! To be honest I wasn't confident! The period continued like the game had to date with the Phoenix having the greater puck possession but clear cut scoring chances were few and far between. In the end the game would come down to a moment of skill. Stephen Wallace got the puck down low and managed to lift it over Ryan to give the Phoenix the lead at 43min 43sec. The Tigers pulled Ryan with a minute to go for the extra attacked but the Phoenix held on. Faith adding the empty net insurance goal with 1sec to go.
Verdict: Not a vintage performance from the Phoenix, but a win secured! A valuable win against a tough Telford team. The win also saw the Phoenix make up ground on the Flames due to their loss in Slough. It wasnt pretty, but the Phoenix got the job done!
Attendance: A good saturday night crowd, i'll guess at 1,200 in the ice Dome
Phoenix 4 Telford 3 - CB Sport
Sunday saw the Phoenix head down to Shropshire for the return fixture. The Phoenix faced another tough examination by the Tigers but were able to secure another win.