Last Saturday saw the 2nd leg of the EPL Cup semi-final between the Phoenix and Flames, up in Manchester we were getting ready for another edition of the Pyro Derby. The score from the first leg was 6-4 Flames which, given the Phoenix squad at the time, was a damn good effort. Two goals were doable for the Phoenix but, it would take a massive effort to overcome the men from Guildford.
First Period: A smaller than expected crowd turned out for saturday night's game but those in attendance, make some noise! The game got underway, Lee in net for Guildford and Jazzy in net for the Phoenix. The play was no different to others in the Pyro derby, end to end, quality hockey, with the Phoenix shading it just about. With the Phoenix slowly taking the game the first goal game as a right sucker punch. You could feel the collective sigh in the Phoenix faithful when Huppe scored through Jazzy's 5-hole to put the Flames ahead. Most people in the Dome, myself included, knew it would be tough, the Flames getting the first goal? That mountain was looking damn high right about now. The team, to give them credit, didn't loose heart, they regrouped and took the game to Guildford searching for their first goal.
Second Period: The Phoenix had to wait until the second session to get themselves onto the scoreboard. They did it with a bang too and, in doing so, re-invigorated the home crowd. Pozivil got the first at 24min 22sec then, when Guildford helpfully picked up a penalty, the Phoenix took the lead at 24min 50sec'ish when Psurny scored. This reduced the overall deficit to one goal. From here on the two teams began to trade goals. Flames scored on the powerplay through Nathan Rempel midway through the second session. The Phoenix were working hard but, just couldn't get that daylight with the Flames on the overall scores.
Third Period: All square on the night, Flames ahead by two, one 20min session to go. The Phoenix upped the work rate and Guildford sat back to absorb all the pressure, hitting Phoenix on the break. Which is all they had to do to be fair, Lee was doing his usual standing on his head routine and the usual histrionics. Phoenix went ahead through James Archer at 42min 26sec, the Phoenix then pressed for another goal. But Guildford would score again to ease their worries. Rempel again netting at 50min 44sec. The Phoenix would set up a barnstorming finish when Psurny scored another powerplay goal at 55min 19sec. The Phoenix pressed and pressed but couldn't make the breakthrough. Finalscore 4-3 Phoenix on the night but 8-9 on aggregate.
Verdict: Gutted to have come so close but lost but, massive credit to the Phoenix. They had been struggling for form recently but really came out and owned the game. Guildford are a quality quality team though and never let the game get too far ahead of them. They will do well and will probably win the cup against the Jets. The Phoenix though, can hold their heads high, it was a great performance and one to take into sunday night's game versus the Bison.
Attendance: Not the best crowd, conversely sunday night's game was expected to be a sell-out! Ill guess at 800 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 (8-9) - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Guildford 3 (8-9) - Flames Article