With the Phoenix back to winning ways the hope would be for another good weekend to solidify the form and keep pace with Guildford/Basingstoke at the top of the EPL table. The next weekend of games saw the Phoenix make the short trip across t'hills to take on the Steeldogs before welcoming the MK Lightning to the Ice Dome sunday. The trip across the hills proved to be a fruitful one as the Phoenix returned with a fantastic 5-3 victory.
With a good win under the belts to start the weekend the Phoenix had the Lightning to contend with next. Games against the Lightning are tough, they can be physical but they will be entertaining! The Phoenix were without James Neil, who had suffered an injury in Sheffield, the Lightning were without Adam Carr and Lewis Christie so both sides were a little short benched.
First Period: The early exchanges were quite close, the Phoenix had the slight edge but were not getting much joy on Wall. The Lightning worked hard, and carved out a few break out chances. The Lightning got the first goal of the game and, it had been coming to be fair! With just 3min 27sec the Lightning broke up ice and Jamieson was on hand to score the games opening goals. As frustrating as it was for us Phoenix fans, it was a well taken goal. It did not get better for the home side, almost a carbon copy of the first, MK stretched their lead to 2. At 8min 25sec the speedy Joklia was the next MK player to capitalise on a Phoenix turnover to break up ice and score. The Phoenix were not playing badly at all, in fact they had most of the puck. The turnovers were their undoing so far in the game! With MK now two goals to the good the Phoenix needed to tighten up their defence but keep working. The efforts paid off when James Archer got the home side on the board at 12min 57sec when he scored a fantastic 5-hole effort from the hash marks. He had worked hard to get into some space and when he was found with the puck he reacted quicker than everyone else to get the shot away. This lifted the team and the crowd and it was no surprise that the Phoenix pulled themselves level. At 15min 02sec, the Phoenix cycled the puck in the MK zone, drew a penalty and, with the extra player on the ice, Kovar scored a delayed penalty goal. With the game level it almost felt like we were back to square one. Both sides trading chances as the period wound down.
Second Period: Games against MK are always fun to watch. Much like games against Guildford they can be filled with some fantastic end to end hockey. MK games have a more physical edge to them, simply through the different roster make up, and that always adds a certain spice to proceedings. The second period did not see a goal fest but some good play none the less. Both sides had some good chances but Fone and Wall were in good form. The one goal of the period fell to the Phoenix and nudged them out to a 3-2 lead. Scored at 28min 18sec Luke Boothroyd continued his scoring exploits this season with a fine strike. The other noticeable thing through the period was the rising levels of physicality and, the apparent lack of intervention by the referee. You could tell, as the players were chatting to each other that tension was building.
Third Period: That level of physical play continued in to the third period but, it did not stop a couple of goals being scored. Phoenix scored at 44min 55sec through Sir Toe Knee of Hand, deciding to take a shot and scoring a wonderful goal actually. That capped off a great 4 goal comeback from the Phoenix. MK would not let things go all Phoenix' way though. With the 5min to go mark gone the Lightning pressure told and Lascek scored to bring them to within one. Goal scored at 55min 22sec. With that the chippy levels reached breaking point and a line brawl broke out. For MK this was perfect, McPherson and Schnabel paired off as did Kovar and Zatopek. In both cases the Phoenix players owned the fights. Kovar in particular went to town on Zatopek and owned him completely. MK didn't care though, after the dust had settled, Kovar/Zatopek were sat for 2+2 respectively and Schnabel/McPherson were gone for 3rd man in and incitement respectively. So, even though they lost both fights, MK benefited from getting a Phoenix import D off the ice for the last 4 mins or so. Things got better for the away team as, soon after the re-start McKinnie was sat for a tripping penalty. 5 on 4 and then, as time ticked down, 6 on 4 as MK pulled Wall. The Phoenix were able to hold on though and secure a 4-3 win.
Verditc: A great game and another entertaining instalment of the Phoenix v MK series. Glad to get the win and another 4 point weekend the Phoenix were made to work hard for that win. The fights were a highlight and, wow, Kovar, what a beast. I really think he is becoming a vital cog in the Phoenix machine. Such a good stick handler with the puck and willing to stick up for his teammates and hold his own in a fight too!
Attendance: A decent crowd in the ice dome, I'll say 1,000!
Phoenix 4 MK 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 MK 3 - MK Article