As the season wind's down home games are running out for the Phoenix faithful. Sunday saw Payette and his Steeldogs come to town. This game, coming after a heavy loss to the Tigers was a game the Phoenix would have to be back to their best. The Steeldogs don't play hockey so it would be a tough encounter. To make things worse, Psurny was still recovering from an injury and the Phoenix were also without Pozivil who was suffering with illness. Hardly ideal going into a game like this missing half your imports and your starting netminder.
First Period: The game opened and the Phoenix short bench was evident. Needless to say the Steeldogs came out hard and the Phoenix had to raise their game to match it. The cheap shots, niggly play and questionable tactics we all know and hate from Sheffield were on show. The Phoenix worked hard to deal with it and play as best they could. Clear cut scoring chances were few and far between but Sedlar, in the Sheffield goal, was facing more rubber than Jazzy. Kohorn, the new Ozolins, looked a quality player.....except for the white gloves! Anyway only one goal was scored in the period, the Steeldogs getting it. Bebris broke down the right, held of the Phoenix D man and lifted a back hand over Jazzy's left shoulder. That goal coming at 19min 02sec.
Second Period: This period would be remembered for one thing, and not the goals! For most in the Ice Dome the officiating was........what shall we say?.....questionable! Phoenix had made a great start to the period by scoring an early goal, Chong ripping a lovely shot at 21min 27sec. Then came the call, after a scrum around Sedlar the players broke free and McKenzie was tripped. After much discussion between the linesman and referee McKinnie was assed a 5+Game for kicking. Needless to say the home fans were in uproar. I know, and accept, I will view games with a Phoenix bias but, I genuinely cannot see how that call was made. There was absolutely no reaction from any player, Phoenix or Sheffield, none at all. Surely if the taboo of kicking was committed, the Sheffield players would be hounding the referee to make the call? I have not had a chance to watch Phoenix TV but those who have say it shows no such kicking happening! So the short benched Phoenix were punished again. Thankfully the Phoenix used this to their advantage and hit the Steeldogs for a couple of goals in quick succession. Richie Bentham scoring at 30min 58sec and then McKenzie at 32min exactly pushed the Phoenix out to 3-1 ahead. Annoyingly the prized little git Greg Wood pulled one back for the Steeldogs at 35min 49sec. While I hate the little bugger with a passion, he is a dogged little guy who gives his all for the team.
Third Period: The Steeldogs went in search for the game tieing goal in the third period, the Phoenix though, would not allow them in for a clear cut chance. Both teams were showing signs of tiring and the pace of the game began to slow. The Phoenix began to short shift and the short bench really began to tell, at times the bench was so empty it was laughable! The game wore on and in the last minutes Sheffield looked to pull Sedlar. They only got the chance once but could not set up in the Phoenix zone. Phoenix running out 3-2 winners.
Verdict: Always pleasing to get a win over Sheffield! Now, the officiating, honestly, hand on heart, I never try to criticise the officiating. I always think, if they turned round and said, 'ok you don't think were doing a good job? do it yourself' I try not to criticise as I know I couldn't do it myself. Taking my rose tinted's off, last sundays game against Sheffield, was some of the worst officiating I have ever seen. Not just from the referee, but the linesmen too. Numerous icings were either given or not given while seemingly being exactly the same. Offsides were missed and blatant penalties missed. It is frustrating to see a game ruined by those wearing the stripes. Anway....time to breath.....the Phoenix won!
Attendance: While not inflated by the groupon offer, the crowd was one of the seasons best. I'd say 1,800 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix 3 Sheffield 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 Sheffield 2 - MEN Article
Phoenix 3 Sheffield 2 - Steeldogs Article