Well, it's that time of year again! Playoff hockey time! Beards are grown, hotels booked, drinking budget calculated. There's no other time like playoff time. The Phoenix ended their EPL regular season on a bit of a damp squib with two games where big leads were lost. Despite this a playoff quarter final beckoned against the Bracknell Bees. A much more preferable match up than against the Wildcats it has to be said. The Phoenix would face a tough away leg down in Bracknell before returning to the Ice Dome for one last time this season.
The Phoenix could well do a job down
in Bracknell but, the main thing, would be to keep the scores close. As
Tambo mentioned on the Phoenix podcast, the Bees have conceded on average
3.9 goals a game. Keep the scores tight and the Phoenix will be in with
a great shot. So the away leg, from reports, sounded like the Phoenix struggled
a little. Steve Fone putting in a man of the match performance as it ended
4-3 to the Bracknell Bees.
One last time the Phoenix faithful descended
on the Altrincham Ice Dome, personally, I wasn't worried. Im not too sure
why either, the Bees had the lead, Phoenix have struggled defensively but,
over 6 periods of hockey we surely had too much fire-power for the Bees.
Surely Tony would not allow another lacklustre performance and make sure
the Phoenix made it to Coventry?
First Period: Phoenix
had to come out and control the game from the first whistle, score the
first goal and the aggregate scores are level. Allow the Bees to score
and that hill, becomes a little more difficult to overcome. For most of
the first period the Phoenix controlled puck possession and camped out
in the Bees zone. They did get the first goal with a gorgeous powerplay
effort from Flaten, great to see him on the scoreboard as goals have been
hard to come by for the Norwegian, goal timed at 12min 33sec. The period
progressed and the Phoenix domination continued, Annetts being put under
more and more pressure as the Phoenix looked to take the lead. With almost
perfect timing they did just that! With just two seconds to go in the period
Flaten, again, scored to give the Phoenix the lead overall. A great shot
through the five hole with no chance for the Bees to post a reply. 2-0
up on the night after the first period, controlling the game, the perfect
start for the Phoenix.
Second Period: With the lead overall
now obtained the Phoenix just had to concentrate, control the game and
win each period. In some ways this session of 20minutes would decide our
playoff fate. Thankfully the team were up-for-it and controlled the puck
again for the majority of the period. In the first and now the second period
the Phoenix had done well to stay out of the penalty box. With the Bees
in penalty trouble the Phoenix got their third of the night. On the powerplay
Robert Schnabel took the puck from behind the Phoenix net and started a
mazy run up the ice. It seemed like no Bees player was willing or able
to stop him and as he breached the zone he unleashed a lovely wrist shot
to put the Phoenix up 3-0. The goal coming at 27min 27sec. The Phoenix
really took hold of the game when they scored their fourth of the game.
Andy McKinnie scoring late on in the period at 29min 58. This was just
after a controversial moment in the game. After some pushing and shoving
in front of the Phoenix net Spearing paired off with Pozivil goading him
into a fight. Both players were in each others faces and Pozivil made a
small head-butting motion, no contact was made it has to be said. Spearing
sat a 2+10 misconduct while Pozivil was ejected with a 10+match for headbutting.
Disappointing for Pozivil, an appeal is on the cards and he will, hopefully,
be able to play finals weekend.
Third Period: The third period saw more
goals scored, the Bees had to open up and press for goals if they had any
hope of reaching Coventry. The Bees made a good start scoring early in
the period at 42min 01sec on the powerplay through Bronniman. A shot from
Bendik was tipped in by Ollie, a lovely tip in actually! The Phoenix answered
back quickly when Schabel got his second of the game at 45min 28sec. Bees
got their second goal of the game at 50min 07sec through Smital on the
powerplay. The Phoenix, however, hit back and killed off the game with
two more goals, both on the powerplay. The Phoenix 6th came at 51min 10
through Luke Boothroyd and the 7th at 57min 04sec through McKinnie's second
of the game. The Phoenix running out 7-2 winners and progression to finals
Verdict: A potentially tricky tie negotiated
with some ease in the second leg. A good game for the Phoenix to banish
recent defencive troubles and a great weekend for Fone to get back up to
match speed. It was disappointing to loose Pozivil, I only hope he can
play this weekend. I would hate for his last game of the season to end
on such a negative note. In the end it was a commanding performance from
the Phoenix and a beautiful rendition of 'Que
sera sera, what ever will be will be, were going to Coventry, Que sera
sera' rang out round the Ice Dome!
Attendance: Back to a more average crowd
for the Phoenix, around 1,100 in.
Phoenix 7 Bracknell 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 7 Bracknell 2 - Bees Article
Phoenix 7 Bracknell 2 - The Bolton News
Phoenix 7 Bracknell 2 - Cheshire Today