The Angry Budgie Live

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Phoenix v Telford Tigers 20th October

Another weekend gone, many many more to go. The next set of challenges for the Phoenix would see them make their first trip to Basingstoke to take on the Bison. Then, sunday would see the Tigers make their first trip north to try and avenge the loss in Telford, against the Phoenix. The Bison had lost Stevie Lyle over the summer but, they still have a damn good roster and will be hard to break down. The first meeting between the two sides seemed to hinge on the second period. The Phoenix spent most of it on the penalty kill which handed the Bison the advantage. Head on over to Banners on the Wall (@84russell) for an in depth run down of the game. 

Turning to sundays game against the Tigers, I will apologise for taking a while to post this. Part of it has been me being lazy but, after what happened, I didn't want to write this while still mightily p****d off! With a few days to simmer and calm down I will dive right in as always! 

First Period: One thing we know of the Tigers, they work hard and Ryan is bloody good! The first period began with both teams trying to take control. The Phoenix were able to control the puck but, the Tigers were moving well and organised in their own defensive zone. They held their shape well and protected Ryan, forcing the Phoenix to take long shots which Ryan found easy to turn away. The Phoenix were struggling to settle into their flowing speedy game, mainly due to the Tigers hard work. The home side could not get many chances or rebounds in and around Ryan to create scoring chances. Tigers looked to sit back, marshal their own zone and hit Phoenix on the break. A few warnings came the Phoenix way with a few turn overs leading to goals so, there was not much surprise when the Tigers took the lead. The Tigers forced a turnover down the side boards then broke fast up-ice with a 2 on 1. After a great cross ice pass Mikusovic put the Tigers ahead, goal timed at 11min 40sec. The rest of the period was much of the same, Phoenix trying hard to settle and get some chances but, The Tigers denying the Phoenix quality puck in the offensive zone. 

Second Period: Something had to change for the Phoenix and, it looked like the first intermission team talk from Sir Tony had done the trick. Just under two minutes into the period the Phoenix pulled level. It was Sir Tony himself with a strong shot through the 5 hole, goal timed at 21min 50sec. The routine of the first period continued as the Phoenix pressed for more goals. The Tigers were standing firm however and, would hit the Phoenix again on the break, this time Callum Bowley putting the visitors in front at 27min 35sec. As the second period approached its half way point the Phoenix began to hit some form and make some passes connect. Andy McKinnie scored a lovely top shelf goal at 38min 19sec to, once again, bring the Phoenix level. The Phoenix then looked to take the game by the scruff of the neck and, come the end of the period, were in a commanding 4-2 lead. Robin Kovar got the Phoenix nose in front at 35min 26sec the, got his second on the powerplay at 39min 11sec. All smiles for the home fans? Little did they know!! 

Third Period: With the Phoenix ahead by two goals the early stages of the second period were a little sedate. But, let me introduce Mr Excrement to Mr Fan! Approaching the half way point it all went off. With the Phoenix in possesion of the puck they worked some space and the puck found Michal Psurny free on the back post. Psurny roofed a fantastic shot past Declan Ryan into the goal, goal light goes on, horn sounds and music is played. But carried on....surely not? Yes...with the referee's arms stretched out wide the goal was washed off. Hand and Psurny go mental and the Phoenix lose concentration. Credit to the Tigers for playing to the whistle, just a few moments later they scored to haul themselves within one. Adam Taylor scoring at 47min 39sec. The Phoenix were guilty of losing control. Their sense of injustice only got worse, a few minutes later, with the game becoming more scrappy the Tigers would break up ice and score the levelling goal. In doing so, the play, seemed to be offside going into the Phoenix zone, no call. Another huge call made by the officials which, the majority of people in the Ice Dome, thought was wrong. The game levelling goal coming at 51min 14sec through Natham Salem. The period wound down with no further goals and the sense of injustice rising in the home stands. Perhaps Karma would smile on us in overtime? 

Overtime and Penalty Shots: Given the title it's obvious no further goals were scored. Despite the Phoenix best efforts they could not set up and enjoy some pressure in the Tigers zone. The Phoenix penalty shots were, over all, a little poor. Tigers winning the shootout and gaining the extra point with a 2-1 shootout win. 

Verdict: The Phoenix were the better side, that much was clear but, all the possession and quality counts for diddly squat if you come up against a determined, hard working squad. No other team in the EPL exemplifies this more than the Tigers. This game just clicked for them, the Phoenix couldn't slot into gear. Had they done so, this would have been a comfortable win. As for the two moments, you can level the 'rose tinted's' at me but, this was genuinely the worst officiating performance I think I have ever seen in the Ice Dome. The offisde decision which lead to a Telford goal was clear but, it was the 'goal' scored by Psurny which turned the game and the Phoenix lost their heads. I have spoken to two people who stand at ice level in the horseshoe end, both saw the puck cross the line, the initial reaction of the Tigers players suggested the puck crossed the line, the goal light came on which suggests the goal judge saw it cross the line but, the referee did not see it cross the line. A massively poor decision, and a turning point. In theory that goal puts the Phoenix 5-2 up, instead we are 4-3 up and loosing concentration. In the end credit the Tigers they played on, kept composed and hauled themselves back level. 

I just hope Karma smiles on the Phoenix at some point towards the end of the season! On the plus side, for Phoenix fans, a title challenge is not ended in October!

Attendance: A good crowd buoyed by a large Tigers following. I'll say 1,100 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 4 Telford 5 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Telford 5 - Tigers Article
Phoenix 4 Telford 5 - The Bolton News

Monday, 14 October 2013

Phoenix v Guildford Flames 13th October

The weekend just gone saw the Phoenix unbeaten start put under its sternest test yet. After going a perfect 8 and 0 the Phoenix had a weekend double header against, last seasons EPL Champions and the current 2nd placed team, the Guildford Flames. The Flames, as @jonthatcher pointed out, the Phoenix B team now contains many former Phoenix alumni: 

Curtis Huppe 
Marcus Kristoffersson 
Andrew Sharp 
Dean Holland 
Tom Duggan 

Games between the two sides are eagerly anticipated as, both teams set out to play hockey. There is physicality but the hockey comes first. Both teams will play the game at speed, with skill, and for the full 60 minutes. I know I look forward to them! The first game of the weekend would see the Phoenix take to the Spectrum ice in Guildford. The game sounded like another corker, despite the low score in the end. It had, almost everything, a late penalty shot missed by the Phoenix and, a late late winner from a former Phoenix favourite. Duggan with the late goal to break Phoenix heats. The game finishing 3-2 Guildford. 

Off we went to the Ice Dome for the return fixture in Altrincham. Some were nervous, I wasn't to be honest! I knew Phoenix/Flames games were entertaining and hockey would take the priority. I am ok losing to a team who wins by playing damn good hockey and, with Guildford, you know that's what you are going to get! Obviously I hoped we would win, I thought we could given how strong the team is this year but, you never know! 

First Period: After a warm welcome back for Kristoffersson and Duggan the game got underway at its customary frenetic pace! The strength in depth on the Flames bench is something scary, three very strong lines can be iced and any team, ourselves included, have to be at their best. Thankfully the home side were and, while not dominating the game as they had so far this season, were able to compete with the Flames. Both sides played hard and some of the hockey on show was fantastic. The Phoenix  took the lead at 6min 02sec when Tony Hand found some space and fired a low shot through Hadfield's 5-hole. This definitely fired up the Flames, who then began to pressure the Phoenix net. Guildford began to dominate the game and, were it not for some sloppy effort in front of goal, they would have been a few goals up. Duggan and Kristoffersson guilty of wasting some great chances. The Flames did get on the board and even up the game at 13min 18sec when Campbel scored finally getting the puck past Fone. Guildford continued to have the better chances but, the Phoenix were able to hold on and go into the interval tied at 1. 

Second Period: The Phoenix needed to find their gears to get back into the game and to impose themselves on home ice. The break did the Phoenix good and, after getting back onto the Ice early were raring to go. The opening exchanges were relatively even again and, as a result, the two sides traded goals early in the period. Phoenix scored first through McKinnie with a great top corner finish at 21min 22sec, the joy was short-lived however, as under a minute later the Flames equalised...again! Former Phoenix player Tom Duggan with the goal at 22min 09sec. In truth it was a great goal from the Flames. Duggan was found bursting into the Phoenix zone and then lifted the puck, on his back hand, over Fone into the roof of the net. While the Phoenix were steadily edging the period the Flames would take their first lead of the game. Another former Phoenix man, Dean Holland scored the Flames go-ahead goal at 26min 57sec. The goal really snapped the Phoenix into gear as the goal provoked an un-answered three goal haul for the home side. Michal Psurny tied things up at 27min 55sec. Then, after the officials had finally realised there were two teams on the ice and called a penalty on the Flames, the Phoenix got a powerplay goal. The Flames were protecting the hash marks very well and Boother was taking some punishment in front of goal. Even so, he took a pass and, even with a heft check, managed to do a spin-o-rama, shoot, and find the bottom right corner. The goal put the Phoenix back in front, timed at 32min 51sec. With the scores at 4-3 the Phoenix scored again with 52 sec left on the clock, almost the perfect time to score. Robin Kovar getting the Phoenix 5th at 39min 08sec. 

Third Period: The score 5-3, 20 minutes to go, this game was far from over. The late goal in the second was a massive boost for the Phoenix but, as fans across the EPL will know, Guildford are stacked with fire-power. Two goals would not be un-achievable for the Flames! The third began and the Phoenix kept on their improving form from the second period. They were able to compete and edge the play against the Flames, when the Flames did get chances they found Fone in top form. Both sides were still missing the odd chance which would usually be put away. The next goal would be crucial *ding* (taken from the hockey cliche book). The goal came for the home side and the Phoenix made it 6-3 at 50min 13sec when Michal Psurny got his second of the game. With the passing of each minute the noise began to rise as the home fans began to countdown the time with excitement. Guildford would act the villain one more time when Marcus Kristoffersson scored their 4th of the night at 56min 52sec, This years Phoenix team is made of sterner stuff when compared with vintage 12/13. Last years team could have succumbed to the pressure but not this years variety. There is much more resolve and determination in these boys. The game was sealed with two minutes to go when Psurny got his hat trick goal at 58min 05sec. That would be the last goal of the game and the Phoenix held on for the win! 

Verdict: As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Phoenix/Flames games are anticipated highly by both fan bases and, this past weekend did not disappoint. If you have the time, make sure you look out for the highlights packages for both games this weekend. Some of the hockey played in Altrincham was fantastic! Guildford showed their awesome power in the first and were un-lucky not to have taken a lead into the first intermission. The new levels of determination from the Phoenix is a big reason why they couldn't! In fact with the Phoenix having the better of the second/third periods the scoreline in the end was a fair reflection. Tony managed to keep a lid on Bakrlik despite the intense provocation from the Flames. The Phoenix penalty kill performed very well and did not concede while, the powerplay unit made use of their one opportunity. In the end a hard fought and deserved win which keeps the Phoenix at the top of the pile. 

Attendance: A good crowd came to watch the fun, i'll say about 1,200 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 7 Guildford 4 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 7 Guildford 4 - Flames Article 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Phoenix v Slough Jets 6th October

After the Phoenix hit 11 past Peterborough the previous weekend the Phoenix faced a tougher weekend against the MK Lightning and Slough Jets. MK have always give the Phoenix a good game so, on saturday the Phoenix went down to Coventry (MK's temporary home for the season) for their first meeting of the season. The Phoenix mean defense was on form again as the guys returned to Manchester with a 3-1 victory. 

Sunday meant Slough and the return, again, of former Phoenix players Ciaran Long and Dave Koulikov. The Phoenix should usually win games against Slough at home but, the Jet's do have quality to cause an upset. Ales Padelek is a new import for the Jets and joins Supercalifragilistic Darius Pliskauskas (thanks Paddy) who cane do some damage. The fans gathered at the Ice Dome to see if the Phoenix could make it another 4 point weekend or, the Jet's would be the party poopers! 

First Period: The atmosphere in the Ice Dome was fantastic in the early stages, for a big tin shed the Ice Dome does create great noise from the stands. The atmosphere rubbed off on the home players the Phoenix made a strong start. With the Phoenix putting pressure on, the recently returning, Rockman it was only a matter of time before the first goal came. Many a Phoenix fan will lament we are often more dangerous on the penalty kill, it was a short handed situation with which the Phoenix opened the scoring. The Phoenix forced a turnover and Hand took the puck up ice with Bakrlik, a short cross ice pass and Bakrlik gave Rockman no chance with his shot. First goal coming at 5min 26sec. The Phoenix continued to pressure Slough, their fore-checking and play in centre ice being a real highlight. Slough just couldn't get enough quality puck in the Phoenix zone. The second goal for the Phoenix came mid-way through the first period. Michal Psurny getting in on the scoring act at 11min 50sec. The period continued with the Phoenix pressuring and Fone looking in good form. 

Second Period: The second period saw a goal fest, timeout and 3 goals in 2 minutes. With the Phoenix camping out in the opposition zone it took the home side a little over 4 minutes into the period to score their third goal of the night. After some good play down the wing, Tony Hand found himself on the back post with the puck and a sprawling Rockman. From behind the goal line he managed to jab the puck home and increase the lead, scoring at 24min 39sec. Phoenix were still creating chances and pushing Rockman into giving up re-bounds. The Phoenix scored again at 26min 10sec when Bakrlik added to his impressive goal tally. Liam Chong continued to scoring  just under two minutes later when he made it 5-0 Phoenix at 28min 43sec. The 5th goal prompted a timeout from the Jets. So far in the game the Jets looked a little lost in defence and were just not helping Rockman when ever he gave up re-bounds. Unfortunately it did not seem to do the visitors any good as Robin Kovar scored for the Phoenix at 29min 50sec. The game passed it's halfway mark and the Jets finally got on the board, Ales Padelek finding some space and picking up a rare rebound from Fone to slot the puck home, scoring the Jets first at 35min 26sec. This goal provoked the Phoenix into a deadly show of offence, James Archer scored his first of the night at 36min 23sec, followed by Michal Psurny just 23 seconds later, his goal timed at 36min 46sec. Jack Watkins rounded off the Phoenix burst of scoring with his goal timed at 38min 24sec. An astonishing 7 goal second period that blew the Jets off the ice. 

Third Period: As with the Peterborough game the previous weekend Tony Hand chose not to ice for the third period and to rest Steve Fone. So El-Hage once again getting a useful 20min period out on the ice. With the game won the Phoenix could afford to wind down a little, having said that they were still able to keep the Jet's at bay for most of the period. The goals did keep coming however and, man-of-the-match James Archer got his second of the night at 48min 01sec. A minute later the impressive Bentham made it 11 for the Phoenix scoring at 49min 14sec. The period saw the Phoenix loose Jacob Corson-Heron with a 5minute match penalty for slashing. No issue with the call as it did draw blood, more issue is the high stick one Tony Hand in the first period that drew blood but was not called....go figure! With the Jet's on a 5 minute powerplay they would get their second of the game early on in the PP. Wales scoring at 53min 34sec. Final goal of the game came for Liam Chong, we are really seeing the player we have waited a whole season for! On a 2-on-1 break Liam delayed a pass across and instead opted to shoot, scoring a short handed goal at 56min 30sec. With the scoreboard reading Phoenix 12 Slough 2 the final 4/5 minutes were spent at half pace as both teams watched the clock run down. 

Verdict: Simply astonished at the scoreline, I know the Phoenix are good this year but, I expected more from the Jets. Even with Tambo insisting on the podcast the Jets have no D, they are a good team and have some talented players. The Phoenix look scary good and look to have some awesome firepower. Another good weekend and wonders for the goal difference. At the time of writing the Jet's have acted and made changes, surprising many fans and players too, they have chosen to release Ryan Watt. Strange decision as he could be seen as one of the go-to energy players on the line-up but, he 'was not fulfilling the role intended' according to the club! 

Attendance: Maybe a little down on normal, the lack of a tram service will have affected some who usually come to games at the Ice Dome. I'll guess at 8-900 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 12 Slough 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 12 Slough 2 - The Bolton News
Phoenix 12 Slough 2 - Slough Article

Phoenix 12 Slough 2 - Game Sheet

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Phoenix v Peterborough Phantoms 30th September

The Phoenix unbeaten start to the 13/14 EPL season would receive a stern test this past weekend, mainly from the away trip to the Swindon Wildcats. Swindon, away, have been the Phoenix bogey team with the Link centre not being a happy hunting ground for us. Over the summer Swindon have added the EPL's best netminder from last season Stevie Lyle and also retained the services of Jonas Hoog once of the leagues best forwards. On the flip side they lost Aaron Nell to the Steelers and, Matt Towe left a month after signing. With that in mind as the game faced off and the updates came through it was amazing to see the Phoenix take the lead and close out the Wildcats for a superb 4-0 victory. 

With that win in the bag the Phoenix returned home to take on the Peterborough Phantoms. The Phantoms are a team the Phoenix should beat at home but, can prove to be a tricky opposition at times. Phantoms have lost a few players who were linchpins of their roster over a number of seasons. Players like Ziedins/Lauko who have retired and Carlon/Norton and Graham who have left to find new clubs. This would be The Angry Budgie's first game back after a week off.......I know......part time fan! 

First Period: The opening stages were bossed by the Phoenix, the home side had more of the puck and began to lay some rubber on King in the Phantoms net. Fairly early on you could get the feeling the Phantoms were struggling to keep the Phoenix out of their zone and away from the net. With the Phoenix dominating the Phantoms were limited to the odd break away into the Phoenix zone and shots from the blue line, which Fone was more than equal too. The first goal, inevitably, came for the Phoenix when Liam Chong continued his good start to the season scoring the Phoenix first goal at 8min 45sec. Also clear from the opening minutes was that Tony had mixed up the lines putting Watkins out with Psurny and Bakrlik and Kovar anchoring the second line. Kovar is really starting to impress and it was Robin who scored the Phoenix second at 13min 05sec. Just about two minutes later and Bakrlik scored an awesome goal, there will be few goalies who can stop a wrister from him! His goal and the Phoenix third coming at 15min 43sec. 

Second Period: Even at this early stage the atmosphere in the Ice Dome began to fall a little flat, mainly because it was clear that there was not much of a contest out on the Ice. It was a shame to see but pleasing for the home fans, the Phoenix dominance was pretty complete. The first goal of the period came from Bakrlik with another strong shot that blew past King, timed 23min 16sec. The last half of the period saw the Phoenix seal the win with three additional goals. Not wanting to be outdone by his fellow Czech, Michal Psurny got his first of the night at 31min 58sec. Bakrlik got his hat-trick goal at 34min 26sec and James Archer rounded off the scoring, making it 7-0 at 38min 10sec with a deserved goal. 

Third Period: With the game won bar the shouting, Tony Hand took the decision to rest up for the third period and ice El-Hage for the final session. This is a tactic I can see happening alot this season if the Phoenix are able to establish a good lead in a game. The pace of the period was markedly lower than the previous two but still followed the same pattern. Phoenix scored again at 45min 06sec when Psurny got his second and the Phoenix 8th goal of the game. As the period progressed the Phantoms got a penalty shot, deservedly so, after Boothroyd had hooked Zubek who was clear through. Some interest injected into the game but, it was a poor penalty shot effort which El-Hage found easy to deflect wide of the goal. A big opportunity missed to give the few travelling Phantoms fans something to cheer about. With the away challenge more or less over the Phoenix added a further three goals in the last 10 minutes with goals from Kovar (2nd of the night) Bakrlik (4th of the night) and Chong (2nd of the night) coming at, 52min 48sec/54min 34sec and 55min 20sec respectively to round off a crushing 11-0 victory. 

Verdict: In the end this was far from a classic, im not sure what to make of the Phantoms off this performance. They have caused the Phoenix some heart stopping moments but sundays performance was far from it, they really didn't look like a team out on the ice. King in goal was hung out to dry on so many occasions! It was probably a combination of a poor Phantoms performance and an utterly dominant Phoenix one! On the drive home I was thinking about the game and, how it really wasn't a great watch. The hockey purist in me wants more from a game, a bit of opposition and fight from the away team but that was lacking. A newbie would have been please though, 11 goal and a bit of a fight? That's what you'd want right? Anyway, a win is a win and, 11-0 does wonders for the goal difference! Who knows this big win, and the big win against the Steeldogs, could be vital come March! 

Attendance: Fairly small crowd compared to recent games, i'll guess at 900 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 11 Peterborough 0 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 11 Peterborough 0 - Peterborough Today
Phoenix 11 Peterborough 0 - Bolton News