The EPL season continues it's relentless march, now well into November the ice hockey fan enters it's more familiar surroundings. The cold, wet nights of an English winter. The Phoenix weekend meant a long trip south saturday night to the hangar in Slough to take on old friends, Koulikov/Long and the Jets. Sunday would see our friends from the east the Sheffield Steeldogs come to town. Against the Jets the Phoenix have a winning record, including the blowout result of 12-2 in Altrincham. Putting that aside the games have been close and, saturday night's would be no exception. 3-3 going into overtime, Bakrlik found his scoring boots to win the Phoenix the extra point. A good start to the weekend but Sheffield would be another tough test.
The Steeldogs were another team who faced the Phoenix early onslaught and, the series so far has been in favour of the Phoenix. A bit more background to sunday nights game was a bet made between Tambo (off of Phoenix TV) and Andre Payette. For the game in Sheffield a week prior, if Steeldogs won - Tambo would wear a Steeldogs jersey all game in Altrincham, if Phoenix win - Andre would wear the Phoenix children in need shirt for warmup and post match interviews. Well, the Phoenix won 5-3 so we all looked forward to sunday night. Credit to Andre, he is a man of his word! He duly appeared in his Phoenix jersey, which is now up for auction on ebay! (put ebay link)
Anyway, sunday rolled round and we all set off for the Ice Dome and, come 5.30pm, the puck dropped on the next 'war of the roses' instalment.
First Period: We all know how Sheffield play, uncompromising physicality. They do, however, have some talent and skill on the roster. In Janis Ozolins they had one of the best players to play in the EPL. Last year and this, the scoring mantle has fallen to Lubomir Korhon. He of the tricky hands and white gloves. The Phoenix felt the full force of his skill in the first period. In fact, it took the Steeldogs less than a minute to score the first goal. It wasn't a poor opening from the Phoenix but, Sheffield worked to create the chance and Korhon executed brilliantly! Scoring the opening goal after 44sec. Any early worry caused by this in the home crowd was set to be just 26sec later when Michal Psurny brought the home side level. Puck possession was fairly even in the first period even though the Phoenix were edging the shot count. Steeldogs scored the next goal when Korhon got his second of the game, timed 15min 16sec. While Sheffield were leading on the scoreboard Callum Pattison had offered Andy McKinnie out again, a hangover from the last game over in Sheffield. This time with a nod from Tony, McKinnie obliged and we had one of the better recent fights seen at the Ice Dome. McKinnie more than edged the fight, connecting with a fair few punches. Definite win for McKinnie, one to watch on Phoenix TV! Buoyed by the fight the Phoenix tried hard to go into the break even stevens but couldn't quite do it.
Second Period: 2-1 to Sheffield was not a worrying scoreline, the Phoenix had more than enough quality to claw it back. But, you never know! Thankfully the second period would turn out to be a real purple patch for the home side. While on the penalty kill, Kovar was found high up ice with a lovely pass out of the defensive zone to go 1 on 1 with Sedlar. Kovar pulled off a fantastic finish and lifted the roof at 27min 21sec scoring a short handed equaliser. With the scores level the game continued to be quite close, Phoenix were getting some shots in on Sedlar but he was proving to be a good match. Sheffield were doing well in keeping the Phoenix honest and not letting the home side run away with things. Then, a powerplay opportunity blew that thinking out of the water. Going on the powerplay the Phoenix scored the go-ahead goal at 37min 03sec, Psurny getting his second. That goal kicked off a mad two minute eight second period where the Phoenix sealed the game. Bakrlik got himself scoring again with a gorgeous wrister at 37min 25sec, Ben Wood got in on the scoring action with a breakaway goal at 38min 52sec, Bakrlik settled his hat-trick with goals at 38min 52sec and 39min 11sec. Shortly after it could have been number 7 with Kovar missing the post by fractions of an inch. Sheffield were shocked, Sedlar was hung out to dry and the Phoenix were dominating.
Third Period: The Phoenix noticeably eased off in the final session, Sheffield replaced Sedlar with Day and looked to restore some pride. A quick goal in the third period from Calvert ensured the scoreboard looked a little better. Sheffield's second goal coming at 51min 12sec. Phoenix were hunting more goals but, without any pressing urgency were not testing Day enough for me. Day, to give him credit, was working hard in goal and was making some good saves. As the period wore on the game began to wind down as the home side looked to secure the points. Sheffield would light the lamp one final time with 9 seconds to go when Gibson go their 4th of the night.
Verdict: Potentially a very tricky game, but that second period blitz was simply awesome. It was good to see Bakrlik back on the scoresheet as he has been struggling for goals a little recently. McKinnie took his fight well and scored a win in that respect. Overall the Phoenix were good value for the win, they had more quality on show than Sheffield, more shots, and that usually means a win. Credit to Andre for honouring his bet too! Please take a look at all the Children in Needs shirts and see if any take your fancy!
Attendance: A good crowd for the derby game, i'll say 1,200 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix 6 Sheffield 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Sheffield 4 - Steeldogs Article
Phoenix 6 Sheffield 4 - The Bolton News
As if all that was not enough, The Angry Budgie has now gone podcasting. Im trying not to be Phoenix focused with it so its more about the EPL as a whole. I hope it's worth a listen! If you have any comments let me know @theangrybudgie on twitter!
The Angry Budgie EPL Podcast