The Angry Budgie Live

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Phoenix v MK Lightning 21st October Game Review

After the Guildford four point weekend the Phoenix were on a bit of a roll, that roll would be severely tested against the Bison (away) and MK (home). In the two games played against the Bison the Phoenix have struggled to solve the Lyle problem, they do enough and get enough pucks on him but have not scored past the fine keeper to date. Saturday night, sadly, saw the Phoenix lose 3-1, on the bright side they did score! 

Next up, the not so insignificant task of overcoming the MK lightning. Usually the Phoenix do well against MK however, the Phoenix have had the customary blowout down in MK. With that out the way it as time for revenge back at the Ice Dome. 

First Period: The game opened with the Phoenix taking the initiative and reigning shots on Alex Mettam who, didn't look too secure. Moving around his goal he gave up plenty of re-bounds and, at times, looked quite shaky. With the early pressure it was no surprise the Phoenix took the lead. McKinnie scoring with just 5min 07sec gone. MK do have some dangerous players and in Nick Poole they have a great hockey mind in their midst. With Calder and Emersic they have two of the leagues most potent forwards. Thankfully the Phoenix were working hard to limit their chances on the puck but, even when MK did get through, Fone was there playing a blinder. The main talking point of the period was a match penalty assessed to Ciaran Long for a check to the head. This was unfortunate as it looked a brilliant hit but, as in the words of the Phoenix podcast disclaimer, the word of the official is law! 

Second Period: This game was going to be much tighter than the two clubs first encounter but, I always thought the Phoenix just had the edge. MK began to up the intensity and, with the ref being the ref's usual diabolical self, the teams began to trade powerplays. MK slowly clambered their way back into the game and began to exert some pressure on the Phoenix defense. That pressure was to be rewarded when Leigh Jamieson leveled the scores at 38min 41sec. The back and forth nature of the game continued with MK shading the period by the end of the session. 

Third Period: After the second intermission it seemed the Phoenix had re-grouped, they took the game by the scruff of the neck and went in search of the go ahead goal. Thankfully, it came, at 48min 20sec. McKenzie, breaking down the left wing saw McKinnie free on the other side and found him with a sweet pass, McKinnie in acres of space coolly slotted home for a gorgeous goal. As many of you readers will know, MK have skill in their team, they would level the game, again, at 54min 09sec while on the powerplay. The Lightning cycling the puck round the Phoenix zone found Carr who scored a lovely goal to tie the scores at 2-2-. 

Overtime: The game went to OT after no further goals were scored. With 4 on 4 the game opened up and a few more chances were created, but with Mettam and Fone turning aside all shots the game was to go to a penalty shootout. 

Penalty Shots: The first time these had been seen at the Ice Dome so far this season and the Phoenix won. Psurny stepped up first and lifted a great shot above the sprawling Mettam. No other player could score, with MK missing all their three, Fone standing tall and turning away all he faced the Phoenix won and took the extra point. 

Verdict: The Phoenix played well and deserved to take the W but, I don't begrudge MK taking a point from the game. The biggest plus from the weekend was ensuring the points column kept ticking over for the Phoenix. Another good win in the Ice Dome and a win that exorcises the big loss suffered down in MK. 

Attendance: Buoyed by some groups in the Ice Dome i'll guess at around 1,100 in. 

Phoenix 3 MK 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 MK 2 - MEN Article

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Phoenix v Guildford Flames 14th October Game Review

Last weekend was a pretty big one for the Phoenix in the early stages of this EPL season. An away/home double header against last seasons EPL champions. Games between the two clubs are always damn good entertainment and there is some real quality hockey played. For these weekends I would always want at least two points, preferably a home win. Anything more is a bonus. 

The game down in Guildford was a surprise, the Phoenix came away with a 4-2 win with the last one being an ENG. Going into the game the Flames were suffering from a bit of a wobble in terms of form so, perhaps, the Phoenix caught them at the right time! Sundays home game would see one of two things, the Phoenix would grind out another win for a brilliant 4 point weekend or, the Flames would subject the Phoenix to a backlash and restore parity in the weekend. The latter having happened before! 

Highlights of the Flames v Phoenix game:

So, sunday rolls round and it's off to the Ice Dome for the #PyroDerby! 

First Period: As has become the norm for games against the Flames the opening was tight, fast and end to end. With Fone and Lee called upon early to prevents goals going in. Both sides were playing some flowing hockey that would convert any newbie into a hockey fan. Just listen to the podcast for the guy who was attending his first game! Games like these will often be decided on a slip or mistake and the first goal came from one. I think it was Schnabel down on the boards in the Flames zone who coughed up the puck and the Flames broke down ice. Some lovely passing saw the puck find Huppe who unleashed a beautiful one time to beat Fone. This goal would be the only of the period, despite the Phoenix applying heavy pressure to the Flames goal. 

Second Period: The game started to heat up (pun intended) in the second period, and most of the chances were falling to the Phoenix as they worked to get on level terms. The first Phoenix goal did come and fell to Scott McKenzie at 26min 38sec, the goal a deserved reward for his hard work in the game. Less than 4 minutes later the Phoenix took the lead. Psurny adding to his tally and early season form with a goal at 30min 32sec. The Flames, once again, proved their quality when Rempel leveled the game to ensure the Phoenix didn't take the game in the second session. Both goals came from lapses in Phoenix concentration which, no doubt, Tony Hand will be disappointed with. 

Third Period: The third period resumed as both sides went in search of the winner. Mark Lee and Stephen Fone were both putting in stellar performances to keep the puck out, you could argue Lee was having to do more work but, he was still keeping the puck out. The Phoenix kept up the pressure and were rewarded at 47min 11sec when Psurny got his second of the game. With the Phoenix ahead and the clock winding down the Flames began to up their intensity. They became more physical and began to try a few more risky plays for the leveler  With less than a minute to go they would snatch a dramatic equalizer when Hemmings forced the puck past Fone to tie the game with 54 seconds to go. 

Overtime: The 4 on 4 period included a penalty kill for the Phoenix with Schnabel in the box. Despite a few hairy moments the Phoenix managed to kill off the penalty and exert some of their own pressure. With a fortunate bounce the Phoenix attacked and Flaten was found free on goal and scored the winner. The Ice Dome erupted and the Phoenix completed a brilliant 4 point weekend over the Flames. 

Verdict: What a game, any newbie in last night will be hooked! The game was fast, skilful, end to end and, more importantly, a quality hockey game between two title challenging sides. The Flames will be disappointed to come out of this weekend dropping 3 points to a title rival. How important they could be come the seasons end. The Phoenix played their best hockey sunday night, Psurny and Flaten continue to impress and the rest of the team are really catching form now. 

Attendance: Flames games tend to bring extra fans through the door so I will say around 1,100 in. 

Guildford 2 Phoenix 4 - Phoenix Article
Guildford 2 Phoenix 4 - Flames Article

 Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 - Flames Article

Friday, 12 October 2012

Phoenix v Slough Jets 7th October Game Review

With no away game saturday night the Phoenix had a rare night off. The Slough Jets were the visitors to the Ice Dome which also saw the return of Slava 'Dave' Koulikov and Ladislav Harabin. Slough are a strong team again this year and the Phoenix would have to be at their best to take anything from the game. The Phoenix welcomed back Tom Duggan after his weekend off with a twisted knee and, the Phoenix remained without long term injured Liam Chong. 

First Period: The Phoenix opened the game with some early dominance, which was encouraging. What was frustrating, was the lack of clear chances close in to Rockman. Despite the early chances the Jets were first to score. Capitalising on yet another stray Phoenix pass in the Jets zone, Pliskauskas was set free and finished with a beut of a shot high into Fone's top right corner. The period continued the Phoenix having most of the chances but, none of real quality. Rockman will stop head on shots all day, the Phoenix needed to get in close and work a dirty goal. The other thing of note in the first period was, the officiating. Im never comfortable in criticizing the officials as, I know I couldn't do it myself. The shocking thing in the game so far, was how poor the linesmen were. Even in the first period there were numerous calls where the lines people were not sure, sadly this would continue through the game. 

Second Period: The second continued as the first left off, the teams traded end to end chances but both Fone and Rockman were up to the task. The second line for the Phoenix continued to be the highlight, the third with the energy and the first...well...that depended on Tony Hand. Hand was and has not clicked yet and, so far in this game, was poor again. Flaten and Psurny were working hard but Tony's passing was far below his standard. 

Third Period: With the second period goaless, the Phoenix had 20 minutes to get a goal. With Slough beginning to tire the Phoenix pressure continued to grow. The first line began to click and Flaten/Psurny were getting in close to Rockman. I did worry that, even if the Phoenix were to score, Slough had the quality on the ice to come right back and get a second. For 57 minutes of the game the Phoenix had no luck. With three to go the hockey gods finally reversed that and, with a Jets d man slipping on the blue line, James Archer was clear in on goal to level the game at 57min 17sec. The clock wound down and with no further goals, we went to overtime. 

Overtime: 4 on 4 opened up the Ice and the Phoenix imports started to exploit the extra space. The luck that came to the Phoenix late in the third continued into overtime. Tony Hand had the puck in the far corner and, with a Jets D man slipping again he was able to approach the net and fire a pass across to the un-makred Psurny on the far post to give the Phoenix the winner. Goal timed 62min 29sec. 

Verdict: A game where the Phoenix dominated but had no luck right up until the death. What has been a constant in the Phoenix home games so far is, the Phoenix are able to control the vast majority of the game, but opposition squads cram the hash marks and frustrate the Phoenix attack. Each team has been content to sit back and hit us on the break. Its frustrating to watch, im glad the Phoenix won as we need to build up some momentum to keep in touch at the top. For me, Tony Hand's form still worries me, while Flaten and Psurny are improving game by game, their success can depend on being fed by Hand. (bdum tsch) I feel sorry for the Slough fans, they looked like stopping the Phoenix for the full 60 and yet Slough lost. Although many will still say the point gained is worth the trip. 

Attendance: A few extra in the Ice Dome, i'll guess at 1,100 in. 

Phoenix 2 Slough 1 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 2 Slough 1 - Jets Article
Phoenix 2 Slough 1 - MEN Article

Monday, 8 October 2012

Phoenix v Swindon Wildcats 30th September Game Review

After the Tigers came the Wildcats! Swindon were the next visitors to the Ice Dome and a team the Phoenix struggle against down in Wiltshire. The Wildcats can be a difficult team to beat and with Hoog/Nell they have two of the leagues best snipers. Both can hurt teams so, if you want to succeed it is vital to shut them down. So far this season the Phoenix have struggled with scoring, against Swindon this must be rectified!

First Period: The game was reffed by Joy Tottman which, I think, may have been her first visit to the Ice Dome. The Phoenix were quick from the start and applied early pressure to the Wildcats. Despite previous games, where Phoenix have taken a while to get the first goal, they were on the board after 6min 10sec when Ciaran Long controlled the puck behind the Wildcats goal and, placed a lovely pass out front to McKinney who gleefully scored. The early elation was tempered as, in what would become a recurring theme, Hoog took advantage of a Phoenix breakdown in the Swindon zone to race up ice and score the equaliser. Shortly after it was the turn of the Phoenix to capitalise on a Swindon breakdown when McKenzie got the second at 11min 32sec. Just after the midway point of the period the Phoenix top line replicated the Phoenix first goal. This time Tony Hand found Psurny out front and the Czech man scored the Phoenix third at 12min 23sec. Swindon pulled a goal back when another giveaway, this time by Tony Hand, gave Swindon's number 10 the puck and he passed James Neil with ease to score. Neilzy won't like seeing that one back!

Second Period: The Phoenix continued to control the game, Swindon were limited to the odd breakaway. The Phoenix extended their lead at 26min 23sec when Luke Boothroyd continued his early season scoring record when he netted on the powerplay. Ciaran Long added another goal 90seconds later making it 5-2 on 27min 58sec. The Phoenix continued to press and there came a long ish pause in proceedings when Skinns took a full slapshot to the cage which clearly knocked the wind out of him. Thankfully he dusted himself down, got up, and continued in the game, top man! The Phoenix eased off in the game, which was dangerous given Swindon's potent offence. Swindon continued to work hard and pulled a goal back short handed when Nell took advantage of the Phoenix carelessness to score Swindon's third goal.

Third Period: Swindon got the best of starts when they latched on to a wayward Tony Hand pass, not for the first time, and Nicky Watt scored their fourth to set up a tense final period. The game continued as it had, with the Phoenix pressuring Swindon and Swindon looking to capitalise on any sloppy passing for breakaway opportunities. Towards the end of the period the Wildcats lack of scoring chances were starting to frustrate them, as Nickey Watt displayed one of the best paddies I have seen on the ice! A proper, two feet of the ice, its not fair jump! Swidon did have the puck in the net with a minute to go but Tottman, correclty, washed it out for a Swindon man in the crease.

Verdict: In the end the scoreline was closer than the match. That being said Swindon capitalised, almost every time, when the Phoenix lost concentration or let a sloppy wayward pass go. For the Phoenix it was good to see so many different scorers on the board and the first 4 point weekend of the season. Tony Hand has yet to hit the highs of previous seasons and, he was poor in this game. Too many giveaways and loose passes, James Neil succumbed too. He has set himself high standards so far this season, but this game was an off night for him. Which he can be forgiven for given how good he has been so far! Tony is still quality, maybe its just his age causing him to start the season slowly. The Phoenix managed to dominate the game, pleasingly, and all this we didn't seem to miss the injured Duggan all weekend, which was a nice bonus!

I thought Joy Tottman reffed a good game, apart from a bad call on a lovely clear ice hit by Ciaran Long but, you could use the podcast ref disclaimer on that one!

Attendance: Crowd's have settled down now and I would say another 1,000 ish crowd in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 5 Swindon 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Swindon 4 - MEN Article
Phoenix 5 Swindon 4 - Wildcats Article

Monday, 1 October 2012

Phoenix v Telford Tigers 23rd September Game Review

Next up for the Phoenix in the Ice Dome was the visit of the, currently homeless, Telford Tigers. Forced to open their season away from their Shropshire base the Tigers are awaiting the results of a multimillion pound refit of their home ice. I just hope they included new lights on the bill! The Tigers are a small budget team but one that can be hard to beat. In all games against the Phoenix they up their game and, Declan Ryan usually plays out of his skin. Like Bowns was for the Steeldogs, Ryan for Telford gives them a shot of getting points from any game. The Phoenix need to be sharp in their finishing to secure the two points!

First Period: The first period opened and, again, the Phoenix took the game to the Tigers with Ryan forced into some early saves. This years Phoenix seem able to retain possession and dominate play but, already in the early stages of this game, the Phoenix just couldn't score. As the period wore on it became more frustrating watching from the stands as our boys just couldn't turn their domination into results on the scoreboard. While more play was coming into the hashmarks the chances were either not on target or not cute enough to beat Ryan. Fone on the other hand was dealing easily with the few chances the Tigers had.

Second Period: The second continued just like the first, but the crowd and, to a certain extent, the Phoenix players began to get edgy. Chances were still being created but were being snatched at. Cool heads were needed! Thankfully the deadlock was broken in the second session. The Phoenix moved the puck around the Tigers zone quickly and found Flaten on the hash marks, who unleashed a quick one-time between Ryan's legs. The relief was evident on the players and fans, especially as Flaten had the puck on Ryan's back post only to hesitate and fluff the chance. The period continued but no further goals were scored.

Third Period: With the goal lead the Phoenix looked to lock up the game, the chances continued to flow for the Phoenix but the goal column stubbornly remained on 1 for the Phoenix. That is until half way through the session when the Phoenix made it two through Psurny at 49min 45sec. He loved that goal too! I must say the Phoenix are still crap on the powerplay, I mean beyond crap! Their inability on the PP was rammed home when Telford got their only goal on a man advantage at 51min 38sec when Luke Brittle was found clear on Fone's back post to score. This sent to traveling fans ballistic and set up a nervy last 10mins or so. Thankfully those nerves were eased with a minute to go when Flaten scored his second of the night at 59min 11sec.

Verdict: Telford are a much better side this year and wont be the pushovers of previous seasons. That being said, without Ryan in goal they would concede many more goals. He does give the Tigers a shot in each game he plays. Credit must go to the Tigers fans too who, while small in number, made a lot of noise! The Phoenix will be happy with the win but, with the number of chances and possession, we should have buried the Tigers. The one thing that keeps me optimistic is, our forwards are yet to find their sharpness, when they do, this Phoenix team will be potent! They have skill, toughness and create lots of chances. The sharpness/fitness is just needed to finish them!

Attendance: A smaller crowd than the Bison game so i'll say 1,000 in the Ice Dome.


Phoenix 3 Telford 1 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 Telford 1 - Tigers Article