After saturdays cup heartbreak the Phoenix difficult weekend continued with the visit of the Basingstoke Bison, a team that the Phoenix had yet to beat. The Bison are a very defensive team who work hard in front of the EPL'ss best goalie Stevie Lyle. To be fair, the system works! Bison are challenging for the EPL title and, in all games in the Ice Dome, have shutout the Phoenix effectively. For the Phoenix, this was a chance to avoid a whitewash and put on a good performance in front of a sold out Ice Dome. The first time this has happened in the EPL for the Phoenix.
First Period: With the stands packed, the atmosphere electric, the game got underway and the Phoenix looked to get out the traps early. With such a big crowd in the Phoenix made the perfect start when they hit the Bison with two quick goals. Tom Duggan got himself on the scoreboard for the first time in a while with a goal at 2min 32sec. Then just about a minute later the Ice Dome was rocking when Psurny scored the Phoenix second. The Phoenix continued the pressure but were forced to long shots by the hard working Bison defence. Then, just as the atmosphere began to go a little flat, the Bison would spoil the perfect period for the Phoenix by scoring on the powerplay. At 19min 58sec, the puck cycled round to Greener on the blue line who put a hopeful shot on goal. Thanks to the screen the puck found its way into the Phoenix goal. Such a shame to concede at the end of a very good period for the Phoenix.
Second Period: The Bison tied the game towards the end of the second period when Cesky scored to make it 2 a piece, scoring at 37min 51sec. This woke the Phoenix who responded with two quick fire goals to really break the Bison. At 38min 50sec McKinnie, using a screen, unleashed a laser of a shot right to Lyle's top corner, a beautiful goal. The Ice Dome erupted again 30 odd seconds later when Flaten was found clear in the hashmarks and slid the puck under Lyle's stick through the 5-hold. A goal Lyle will not like at all, that goal at 39min 25sec.
Third Period: With the big crowd enjoying itself the Phoenix had to be professional and close out the game. Thankfully they did and, in the first minutes of the 3rd period, effectively finished the game off. Psurny, again, on the powerplay got the Phoenix 5th goal at 43min 44sec and James Archer at 45min 49sec got the 6th. The Phoenix had done well to score pair's of goals so quickly. This really got under Lyle's skin and ground down the Bison. The minutes ticketed by with no further clear cut chances and the Phoenix, and their large following, could enjoy a win over the Bison......finally!
Verdict: A worry I always have when a big crowd, full of newbies, is in. I worry that the product on the Ice won't impress. There was no worry of that sunday night. The Phoenix worked hard, got their deserved victory and, judging by those around us in the crowd, secured some new fans for life! The Phoenix deserved the win, scoring early goals always helps, especially with the wall that is Lyle. The two quick goals in the second period really disheartened the Bison and the game was a bit of a formality after that. That being said, the Bison won't mind the loss. In the 6 game series the Bison have 5 wins. Im sure they will be happy with that!
Attendance: A sell out, so 2,200 I think!
Phoenix 6 Bison 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Bison 2 - Cheshire Today
Big thanks to Richard Allan, official Manchester Phoenix photographer for the picture.