After a long delay its finally time to draw a line under the 2011-12 season. Hilariously enough just a few short weeks before the new season starts! My excuse is ive had a busy summer. One long haul holiday to the other side of the world, getting engaged and another trip away on business. Anyway all that is over and, aside from wedding planning, it's time to get back into hockey mode. So, without further ado, lets have a look at the forwards who, almost, fired the Phoenix to back to back league titles!
Number 2, James Archer
James was one of a couple of players
who took a few games to get it going in the EPL, that being said once he
did get going he was his usual self. A fine hockey player who would enhance
any roster he played on. James played the season tough and chipped in with
good points throughout the year. The stats will show he was down on the
previous season but, a groin injury - which he played through for the rest
of the year, didn't help. Along with the entire Phoenix roster being on
the physio table at one point or another. James is a player who I, and
many other Phoenix fans, would hate to loose, and being a Sheffield lad,
one I hope we don't!
The Budgie Rating 6.5/10
Number 9, Tony Hand
If you look at Tony's career, 2011-12
will go down as his worst! Despite this Tony still averaged more than a
point per game and his loss, was a major factor in the Phoenix relinquishing
their grip on the EPL title. Injured half way through the season with a
fractured ankle, which then took a very long time to heal, the Phoenix
missed his creativity and leadership on the ice. When Tony did return to
the ice in the flickering embers of the league campaign, it was amazing
to see that, even at less than 100% he was still better than just about
anyone else on the ice in the EPL! Tony was excellent, having him bench
coach must have given him a view of his future, now more than ever Tony
faces a massive question. Do I play on? For me, I hope he does!
The Budgie Rating 8/10
Number 14, Stephen Wallace
Looking at the stats last season was
a bit under par for Wally, my favourite player for the past couple of seasons
Wally took a couple of games to get going, then a cruel wrist injury hampered
the rest of his season. A player, for whom stick handling and skill is
such a big part of his game, this was always going to impinge on his point
production and effectiveness. Wallace is a player I would never tire of
watching and would dearly love to have him back icing for the Phoenix but
he has chose to return to Billingham. The move is a logical one for Wally,
that's where he is from after all! Good luck Wally, The Angry Budgie and
all Phoenix fans wish you the best!
The Budgie Rating 7.5/10
Number 19, Tom Duggan
Tom's second season in Manchester was
a real breakout season for the young lad. His best point production of
his pro career Tom has cemented himself as a key player for the Phoenix.
Another player who could walk into any EPL side, if the Phoenix were to
loose him we would struggle. He really provides the energy behind the third
line more often than not putting his body on the line. Only missing four
games of the season Tom was one of the lucky few who stayed relatively
healthy through the year. Scoring 5 points in the post season push Tom
was a big factor in the Phoenix making it to the last day of the season
in Coventry. Had we had a full roster for the season, his effort would
have been rewarded with a shiny pot!
The Budgie Rating 9/10
Number 29, Martin Cingel
Martin came to the Phoenix with a great
pedigree, Martin single handily kept Edinburgh competitive for 9 years.
So, in the EPL on the same line with Tony Hand, it was going to work out...right?
Too right it did, his past season he nearly doubled his point production
and recorded a career year. Martin was never the flashiest or, made the
most noise, but he was effective. Im not sure on the likelihood of a second
season, Cingel put up the points but, could the money bring in a better
import? Either way Martin had a good year and stayed healthy throughout
2011-12, he should get a medal or something!
The Budgie Rating 8.5/10
Number 71, Josh Ward
Josh had somewhat of a legacy to live
up to. Coming to the Phoenix from the Panthers he follows Rob Lachowicz
and James Neil in crossing to the Phoenix. His season, he never really
stood out for me. He certainly works hard but his contribution on the third
line wasn't quite enough. He is a player who will not be returning to the
Phoenix as he has signed up for the Panthers. While I hope he can emulate
Lacho's success, I cant see it myself. He was good, not great, at EPL level
so I cant see him breaking in to an EIHL side this year. Personally he
needs another year or two at EPL level before he will be ready! But, having
said that, best of luck Josh!
Number 74, Slava Koulikov
Having come to the Phoenix from Slough
to cut down on his commuting Dave Koulikov was quickly embraced by the
Phoenix faithful for his positive attitude and 100% effort on the ice.
I was really really happy when Slava signed for us, he was one of the EPL
stars I wished played for my team. Slava contributed in a big way to the
Phoenix second line and, had he played a full season, he could well have
had another big year in terms of points. Definite re-sign for me! Sadly
this won't happen, I had hoped, the reason for Slava coming to us, or one
of them, was it would offer him a chance to play closer to home in Hull.
Next season he will return to Slough, which defeats the point of that,
but, he returns as player coach! Fair enough really! Thank you and good
luck Slava, except for the 6 games against the Phoenix!
The Budgie Rating 6/10
Number 89, Ciaran Long
Another debutante for the Phoenix Ciaran
came to the Phoenix from the Bison. Ciaran is a player who I have admired
in the EPL so he was another I was happy to see pull on the Phoenix jersey.
Ciaran is one tough cookie and a guy who added much needed grit and determination
to the Phoenix third line. A player who also became a fan favourite he
would give his all every shift! For a tall skinny fella he can pack a punch,
for many a fan his stand-out moment was winding Payette up in our playoff
semi-final, taking him on and laughing his head off! Top marks fella!
The Budgie Rating 8/10
Number 91, Juraj Faith
The final import signing of last summer
is traditionally the sniper. Faith came to the Phoenix with that billing
and expectation. For some Phoenix fans it took a while to warm up to Juraj
but for me, I liked him. Despite his age Juraj had masses of pace, a wicked
wrist shot and a wise hockey brain. A centre man who, because we already
had Tony Hand, had to play on the wing many fans thought he struggled,
and only came into his own with Tony out injured. There was some truth
to that, with both on the ice there could be a few too many passes, but
the puck would eventually go in the net. Juraj impressed me but he is not
to have a second season in Mancheser. He returns to the team he played
for in Germany EHC Freiburg this time in the German third tier.
The Budgie Rating 8.5/10