After the last weekend's struggles which saw the Phoenix take just a point from the weekend, the Phoenix would take on the Bees in a double header. The weekend would pit the two sides against each other, the previous time, seeing the Phoenix eliminate the Bees on their way to last seasons playoff championship win. Over the summer the Bees have re-built and, going off reports from previous games, have a hard working and physical side. The game down at the hive would be another close one and, yet another game for the Phoenix going the distance and then some! 60 minutes of hockey could not separate the teams, neither could the 5 minutes of OT. This game would be settled on the dreaded penalty shootout. A real lottery to decide the extra point, on this occasion it was the Bees who prevailed, winning 3-2!
The game up in Altrincham would see the two teams meet again and battle it out for another valuable two points. Would it go the way of the Bees and give them a four point weekend or, would it go the way of the Phoenix and rescue a weekend which could see another weekends efforts rewarded with a single point?
First Period: The Telford Tigers, in the previous home game, worked hard at disrupting the Phoenix in centre ice. This worked well in frustrating the Phoenix and upsetting their rhythm. The Bees did not quite pull this off during the game but, during the first period, their hard work and solid D helped keep the Phoenix chances low. The home side enjoyed more shots on goal in this game but found Mettam in goal in fine form. The deadlock was broken at 7min 45sec with the Phoenix on the powerplay. Some good perimeter passing worked the Bees D out of shape before the puck found it's way to Bakrlik who rifled a shot past Mettam. The Phoenix and Bees traded a few chances each but the Phoenix were edging the play in the first period. The clock wound down towards the end of the period and the Bee's decided to play party pooper and take the edge off the Phoenix momentum. With just 42sec left in the period Grant Rounding brought them level when he found some space and scored. A very well worked goal, despite having the edge on the period as a whole (the Phoenix) a 1-1 score was about right.
Second Period: The period began much like the first with the Phoenix enjoying more of the chances but, not really getting quality through on Mettam. The Bees were no mugs mind, they bided their time, defending solidly and looked to capitalise on the break. When they did so they found Steve Fone in fine form. It was through this period it became clear, the Phoenix really need to work on a plan B! The usual free flowing hockey was being frustrated by the hard work and dedication of the Bees unit. The period wore on and it would be down to the last minutes before another goal was scored. The home side edged in front just before the break when James Archer put the Phoenix 2-1 up at 38min 26sec.
Third Period: Un surprisingly the third period was much like the second. The Bees working hard to minimise clear chances and the Phoenix frustrated by Mettam when they were able to get shots on. The Bees got themselves level in the game at 45min 21sec when Grant Rounding scored on the powerplay. With the scores at 2-2 many of the crowd could be forgiven for allowing a few nerves to surface. Would the Bees nick a winner late on? Are we going to overtime again? It was not like the Phoenix were not trying. For the remaining 15 minutes the Phoenix were constantly nocking on the door. They had numerous close chances, shots that just didn't quite come off the tape 100% passes just not quite there, as the clock wound down it seemed obvious no further goals were going to come.
Overtime: So OT it was, again! 4 on 4 the Phoenix upped the pressure again in the extra period but Mettam was standing on his head. Despite a few close calls neither side could break the deadlock, leading to penalty shots.
Penalty Shots: Possibly the worst penalty shot performance I have ever seen......from both sides! We had got through 5 rounds of attempts before Robert Schabel stepped up and fired a stonking shot past Mettam to give the Phoenix the win. While both goaltenders performed very well, the shots on offer from the skaters were very poor!
Verdict: The weekend could have ended with a loss for the Phoenix making it 4 on the bounce. Thankfully it didn't! The Phoenix held on for the win and a 3 point weekend. Doesn't sound too bad does it Phoenix fans? What worries me about the past two home games is, against teams who play flowing hockey, ie, Flames/Bison/MK etc..the Phoenix are brilliant and can more than match those teams. It's games against Sheffield/Telford and the Bees where I worry a little. These are teams who don't play with open hockey in mind, They are grafters, teams who work hard centre ice and hold a solid D core in their own zone. This game and the game against Telford showed, the Phoenix need to work on a game plan for those type of teams. I am happy we won, that much is certain, I just hope Sir Toe Knee is working on an effective plan b!
Attendance: I'll say around 900 in the Ice Dome.
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Phoenix 3 Bracknell 2 - Bees Article