It's been a long summer but, a busy one for the Budgie! You may have noticed from my twitter that I got married over the summer. A great time was had by all and, it certainly kept my mind off the lack of hockey! Now we are into September and Hockey is back with a bang! For the Phoenix, the roster has been assembled, I do still have posts to put online about the team, they will follow in time. It was time to kick off the 2013/14 season with the traditional War of the Roses clash with the Sheffield Steeldogs.
First leg was over in Sheffield and saw the Steeldogs take a 5-2 lead after the first leg.
With three goals to make up both teams arrived in Altrincham for the second leg along with a big crowd. Sheffield had the upper hand going into the game, not only on the scoreboard but, through their extended pre-season had more match fitness. That being said, there was still 60 minutes of hockey to be played! After not icing the previous night Tony Hand would lace up the boots and make his first appearance at home.
First Period: It was clear from the first few seconds that Phoenix/Steeldogs games would be no different to last season. A very physical opening which contained an almost constant steam of players going to/from the penalty box saw very few 5 on 5 plays. Phoenix did take first blood when, with Greg Wood in the penalty box. Bakrlik scored his first in the Ice Dome with a lovely wrister from the blue line, goal timed at 4min 33sec. Robin Kovar assisted on the goal and would shortly leave the game. After Archer/Wood had words, Haywood and Kovar got involved and, despite the officials insistence, Kovar got his moneys worth on Haywood and was ejected from the game. A few minutes later, after both goalies had been tested thoroughly the Steeldogs were awarded a penalty shot, harshly in my view. Greg Chambers stepped up and showed his class to level the game, goal timed at 12min 03sec. A bit of hockey started to appear and the Phoenix looked to take control and reduce the deficit. Just before the end of the period the home side did just that, after a shot by Chong was not held by Sedlar McKinnie stepped in to score off the rebound. That joy was short lived when Kohorn tied the game again at 19min 03sec.
Second Period: After the franticness of the first period the second was a much calmer affair. Some good hockey was played by both sides with Sedlar impressing greatly in the Steeldogs goal. When Sheffield face a side who are much better in terms of hockey they do fall back to a very solid D pattern. The two D and one forward in front of Sedlar. This makes it hard to get clear opportunities in and around the net. The onyl goal of the period came for the Phoenix at 39min 41sec, just before the buzzer, when Psurny finished off a great breakout move with Tony Hand.
Third Period: 20 minutes to go and at least another two goals needed by the Phoenix. Sheffield got the next goal and, effectively, sealed the tie when Chambers scored a lovely top shelf effort at 50min 55sec. This guy is quality and really should still be in the EIHL, he stands out a mile, with Kohorn, on the Steeldogs roster. With Sheffield players still taking penalties the Phoenix were able to get their second PP goal of the game at 56min 40sec when Psurny scored a top corner goal from a tight angle.
Verdict: A good home win for the Phoenix but, not enough to regain the Roses trophy. Sheffield did the hard work in the first leg, as they did last season. Credit to Sheffield, they work hard and despite taking many penalties work hard to protect Sedlar. Sedlar himself was my mom for the game, he saved at least 4 obvious goals, as did his posts with the Phoenix ringing the post 4 times! No complaints for me, Sheffield's extra match sharpness (from their extra pre-season games) shows. The Phoenix look good, however, and very quickly, once players have become accustomed to each other, will be very dangerous!
Attendance: Im guessing a just over 1,000 in the Ice Dome
Phoenix 4 Sheffield 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Sheffield 3 - Steeldogs Article