Another visit of the MK Lightning to the Ice Dome and another good game in store. MK are a team that can play some good hockey but are more than willing to indulge in the darker side of the game if needed. So, a seasoned EPL team really! Most of the time games between the two sides can be real hockey spectacles with some very talented players on both rosters. As good as each team is, they tend to struggle in each other's rinks. On to the game, the Phoenix were still without Robert Schnabel but could finally welcome Liam Chong to the ice.
First Period: MK were resting Stephen Wall so it was Mettam and Fone who started between the pipes. MK started the game strongly, hitting the post twice but, it would be the Phoenix who got on the board first. James Archer scoring after just 1min 43sec. The early goal settled the Phoenix and MK so both teams began to play some great end to end hockey. Even in the early stages, there were a few PP opportunities for both sides. The MK powerplay looked very strong, they were quick and moved the puck around the zone with skill. Sadly they kept coming up against a hard working Phoenix D and Steve Fone in some great form. The Phoenix extended their lead, much to everyone's relief, on the powerplay. Luke Boothroyd continuing his fine scoring form with his goal timed at 16min 26sec. We then got a reminder as to how potent MK can be. Around a minute later and MK had got themselves back on the board, Scoring at 17min 32sec through Blaz Emersic....quality player that guy!
Second Period: The Phoenix were leading 2-1 at the start of the second period and the period carried on as the first did. When these two teams meet and, the game does not boil over, they can be a joy to watch. The Phoenix can, usually, dominate games at the Ice Dome but this one against MK was a great contest. End to end action with two goalies playing their best. The period wore on with no goals to be seen but, that would change towards the period end. With the puck in the MK zone Pozivil was found on the back post to score the Phoenix 3rd goal at 38min 12sec.
Third Period: MK, down 3-1, needed a quick start to the third period, and they got it! Just 13 seconds into the period and Tverdek scored, what great timing for the away side. A poor one to concede, especially as it was a certain Mr Hand who gave away the puck! Any thoughts the Phoenix had of running away with the game were blown out the window with that early goal. With that out the way the game got back to the end to end action we had seen in the first two sessions. The Phoenix were able to re-establish their two goal cushion when Tony Hand, perhaps to atone for his earlier error, stepped up from the blue line and blasted a slapshot through Mettam and into the MK goal. MK began to press for a goal and, with a minute to go pulled Mettam from the net. Thankfully, for the Phoenix faithful, the Phoenix got the puck to Flaten who scored an empty net goal at 59min 19sec. With the buzzer sounding soon after the Phoenix won the game 5-2.
Verdict: Games against MK can be tricky, they have many seasoned EPL performers and know who to win at this level. That being said, I think the Phoenix are slightly stronger and, I would expect us to win our home games versus MK. That being said, it was a great game to watch, so much end to end action with both sides creating chances.
Attendance: The attendance guessing game continues, i'll say 1,000 in.
Final thought: As was announced at the start of the game this would be Ciaran Long's last game in Phoenix colours. The young lad had just landed his 'dream job' after a 3 year search and the Phoenix would not stand in his way. Ciaran will be missed and leaves the Phoenix having played 82 games and amassing 28 goals and 19 assists. We will miss his hard work, physical play and never say die attitude. Ciaran leaves the Phoenix and has signed for the Slough Jets joining up with Slava Koulikov.
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