Just the one game over last weekend for the Phoenix, the Bison were the visitors to Altrincham. Sans Lyle the Bison are still challenging at the top of the EPL table. Heading into the game against the Phoenix, the Bison had gone two games without conceding a goal. Quite an impressive record and, perhaps, a return to the defensive strength we came to know last season?
With no game saturday for the home side the Phoenix should be fully rested, the Bison came into the game after hammering the Phantoms 6-0. Should be a good un then?
First Period: The first target, for home fans, was not to conceded early goals. Thankfully, the Phoenix didn't! The home side quickly asserted their dominance, they looked to nullify the Bison's physical threat and that seemed to stop most of the Bison threat. Even in the early stages it was obvious the Phoenix had started brightly and it would take a big effort from the visitors to take anything from the game. Skinns was performing very well in goal and Fone was turning aside anything the Bison had to offer. The first goal did come for the home side, what a goal it was too! Frantisek Bakrlik took the puck around the point and unleashed a mighty shot which found Skinns five hole. It was such a strong shot I immediately though of Jeremy Clarkson and his 'poooweeeeerrrrrr' phrase, totally apt in this case! The first goal coming at 13min 33sec, the advantage was extended 4 minutes later when Bakrlik got his second at 17min 33sec.
Second Period: So, 2-0 Phoenix and the home side looking relatively un-troubled for the first session. Bison had to do something and, up the physical play to try and nock the Phoenix from their stride. The Phoenix made a quick start to the second period when James Archer put the home side 3-0 up at 21min 20sec. A quick re-group for the visitors? Through the second period it did not look like the Bison had changed or been able to change their play. The Phoenix were then hit with a couple of penalties in quick succession, the home side were outstanding in their penalty kill. Giving the Bison absolutely nothing! The Phoenix also scored a lovely short handed goal during this time. A quick break saw Tony Hand skating up the right wing with James Archer busting a gut on the left wing to create a chance. A gorgeous floated cross ice pass from Hand found Archer free at the back post to light the lamp. The SHG coming at 36min 01sec. The dominance continued and, in the dying seconds of the period, the Phoenix added a 5th goal. Timed at 39min 28sec Frantisek Bakrlik got his hattrick goal.
Third Period: With the home side 5 goals ahead the third period was not as intense. It almost seemed like both sides had accepted the result and just wanted to get through to the end. There was still no major fight back from the Bison, I had expected my chippy/rough play in the third in an effort to get something going. The Phoenix added a 6th goal at 57min 24sec when Psurny got his reward for another good performance. The Phoenix now had about 2 minutes to try and get Fone a SO. It was looking good until the 1 minute to go mark. The Bison finally got some pressure on the Phoenix goal and managed to get Fone moving post to post. Doug Sheppard was found on the back post and, his shot was almost saved by Fone, but looped agonizingly slowly over the Phoenix goalie into the corner of the net. The Bison goal coming at 58min 56sec.
Verdict: I must admit, I was disappointing with the Bison performance. There is alot more to their play than they showed sunday night, the Bison have schooled the Phoenix in Altrincham before but this was far from it. I think too many players had off nights or just were not there. I was also surprised they did not get more physical during the game. Many teams have found when they nock the Phoenix around, it disrupts their rhythm and frustrates them. Perhaps it was the long bus ride, perhaps the Phoenix were just fresher but, it was a dominating display from the home side! Play like that for the rest of the season and we will be challenging for that title sure enough!
Attendance: A good crowd for the game, i'll say 1,100 in the Ice Dome.
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