The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Phoenix v Swindon Wildcats 5th January

The Phoenix started 2014 with an away trip to the, current league leaders, Basingstoke Bison. The Bison are a tough team to play in their own rink but, with the quality the Phoenix have, we should be able to sneak the odd point from down there. Going in the Phoenix were not in best shape however. Bakrlik was still on the sidelines and, Steve Fone was not in best health. Young back up netminder Paul Maudsley would be handed his first EPL start, quite the baptism of fire! In the end the game was quite close for about 40mins but, a superb second period from the Bison won the game. The herd running out 5-2 winners. 

Bison 5 Phoenix 2 - Bison Article

Bison 5 Phoenix 2 - Phoenix Article
Bison 5 Phoenix 2 - Basingstoke Gazette

So, the Phoenix returned to Altrincham, which has become a bit of a fortress recently, to try and get their first win of 2014 and remain in touch with the top of the table. Bakrlik was still out but Fone was back in between the pipes for the visit of the Swindon Wildcats who, had recently bolstered their roster with the return of Aaron Nell. 

First Period: A fairly cagey opening period from both sides, the Wildcats playing the road game and trying to minimise the free space in their own zone. The Phoenix still lacking a little confidence meant their early passing was wayward. So no free flowing hockey, it was all a bit scrappy. The Phoenix did get on the board first after 5 minutes when Robin Kovar converted the Phoenix first powerplay opportunity, scoring at 5min 11sec. With neither team taking hold of the game there were chances both ways, Wildcats equilized when Kostal capped off a great move from the visitors which cut through the Phoenix D with worrying ease. His goal coming at 7min 59sec. When you look at Swindon play, they are fast in the forwards, Kostal looked good early on and Hoog slowly got himself into the game. Hoog would give the Wildcats the lead at 9min 16sec with a goal that rewarded the slight Swindon edge over the period. 

Second Period: While the Phoenix were not at their best, while it was just a 1 goal deficit the Phoenix always had a chance to get back into the game. The Phoenix were working hard in the second period, they needed to help Fone out, while he was playing it was clear Fone was not 100% as he was givign up rebounds that were not being cleared. Over the period the Phoenix D were improving and, the forwards just began to click. The passing was making the stick rather than just behind/in front of the player. Within a 79sec period the Phoenix had wrestled the game back from the visitors. Michal Psurny scoring the Phoenix second at 30min 44sec, then Richie Bentham gave the home side the lead just 24sec later at 31min 08sec then Robin Kovar got his second of the game at 32min 03sec. A quite brilliant comeback! 

Third Period: The Wildcats had to open up and go for it in the third period, which would work in the Phoenix favour. The Phoenix had done well in getting plenty of shots on Lyle and with Swindon needing to press, more chances would come. Early into the third period and Swindon made things interesting by lighting the lamp. Aaron Nell proving he is still a top top EPL forward, scoring at 43min 01sec. With the Wildcats cutting the deficit the Phoenix had to concentrate and not slip up. A powerplay opportunity gave the home side a perfect chance, and they converted yet again. Michal Psurny scoring after 45min 21sec. That PP goal sucked the life out of Swindon and the game settled down to run its course. Nearing 5 minutes to go the Phoenix added the icing to a good performance when Robin Kovar got his 3rd of the night at 54min 43sec. 

Verdict: After a shaky start the Phoenix clamped down on their mistakes and blew Swindon away in an important second period performance. While the Phoenix need to work on taking points from their rivals they can, at least, rely on their home form. In the end a good performance. A quick note on Swindon, they have talent in goal, they have talent up front but, their D and defencive team work needs work. Lyle regularly faces the most shots in the league, the Phoenix put 54 on Lyle while Fone faced 28. Swindon need to cut down the number of shots Lyle is facing if they want success in the league and playoffs. 

Attendance: A good crowd for the new year, 1,200 

Phoenix 6 Wildcats 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Wildcats 3 - Wildcats Article
Phoenix 6 Wildcats 3 - Bolton News
Phoenix 6 Wildcats 3 - Swindon Advertiser

Monday, 6 January 2014

Phoenix v Peterborough Phantoms 29th December

Coming into sunday nights game against the Phantoms the Phoenix were without Frankie Bakrlik who had picked up a nasty injury against the same opponents a few games earlier. With one import down the game would be tougher but, the Phoenix should still have enough quality to see off the Phantoms on home ice. A good crowd in the Ice Dome, buoyed by the festive holidays and, possibly, some returnees from the Groupon offer from the Flames game previously, the last game of 2013 got underway. 

First Period: The game got off to a quick start with the Phoenix scoring after just 66seconds. The Phoenix gained the zone on the powerplay and Hand took the puck behind the net, rolled out to the far corner and centred the puck. The puck deflected off a Phantoms D man and through King's legs. A great start for the home side and a bit of luck going the home side's way. The Phoenix found controlling the puck easy in the early stages, the domination continued as the Phoenix scored their second at 8min 58sec when Kovar continued his rich vein of scoring. The Phoenix made it 3-0 on another powerplay when James Archer tucked away a lovely flowing move at 13min 15sec. Not to be outdone this goal sparked the Phantoms into some chances and, about a minute and a half later Piatak got the visitors on the board. Scoring at 14min 41sec. The final goal of the game came for the home side, this time on a penalty kill. Michal Psurny picking up the puck taking it up ice and pulling a lovely move on King to open up the goal. The Phoenix 4th coming at 16min 48sec. 

Second Period: Most home fans would have been forgiven for thinking the game would head the way of the Phantoms last visit to Altrincham. In a comprehensive home win. The second period certainly felt like the result was a foregone conclusion! The atmosphere was a bit flat and, the Phantoms offered little going forward. Having said all that, it would be the visitors who would get the only goal of the period. Midway through Koulikov found some space in the hash marks and slotted a great shot past Fone to make it 4-2. 

Third Period: The Phoenix found their mojo early in the third period and, on another powerplay, Kovar got his second of the game. That goal coming at 43min 26sec. The home side were in control but the Phantoms were still giving the home side things to think about. Midway through the period the Phoenix extended their lead through a booming shot from Schanbel, goal timed at 50min 16sec. The Phantoms managed to make the scoreline a bit more respectable and capitalise on some Phoenix mistakes when, James Ferrara scored two goals in the last 5 minutes. The Phantoms 3rd coming at 56min 31sec and the 4th at 59min 35sec. 

Verdict: Not a classic by any stretch. After the high of the Guildford game this was a bit of a low when compared. The hockey fan would not have liked the game, the atmosphere was flat the Phoenix were below par buy any newbie, or returnee tempted back after their Groupon game, would probably have enjoyed it. 10 goals and a fight? Good value! So, a poor game by Phoenix standards but, another win, another win at home and a win while playing badly bodes well for the future! 

Attendance: A good one again, i'll say 1,500 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 6 Peterborough 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Peterborough 4 - Phantoms Article
Phoenix 6 Peterborough 4 - Bolton News

With the injury to Frankie the Phoenix looked to fill that gap with the announced signing of former Phantom Cesky, a fellow Czech winger coming in as injury cover. 

An EPL veteran, while not putting up the same sort of numbers as Frankie, he is used to the EPL and a player I have always fancied seeing in a Phoenix jersey since we moved to the EPL. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Phoenix v Guildford Flames 22nd December

The last weekend of games before christmas saw the Phoenix make the 'wonderful' journey to Peterborough saturday night. It has been a tumultuous time for the Phantoms recently. Coach sacked, Slava Koulikov coming in from Slough, bringing in a few players from the Hangar, some players leaving. So the best or worst time to play them? It would turn out to be a tough night for the Phoenix but, a night wich saw the away team grind out a shootout win. Worrying for Phoenix, an injury to Bakrlik saw him leave the game early. 

Sunday saw current EPL champions the Guildford Flames come to the Ice Dome for their second visit of the season. The game would also be the second on the current Groupon offer so a larger crowd came to the Ice Dome. Guildford were suffering from a few injuries but, so were the Phoenix. Despite warming up Frankie Bakrlik did not ice for the game. 

First Period: With the Dome rocking the puck dropped on the top of the table clash. Both teams had the prize of being number one at christmas at the end of the game. The first period saw a close chess like game from both teams, each getting some chances in on the goalies but nothing clear cut. Both Lee and Fone were keeping all early chances at bay. The officiating was, shall we say, questionable! For both teams in fact! We had a four man system in place but, as usual, that did not seem to improve the game! 

Second Period: With an unusual goaless first period the second got off to a good start for the home side. With the Phoenix on the powerplay the home side set up in the Flames zone moving the puck around. With Hand on the puck, Boothroyd ghosted round the back of the Guildford box to the far post to tap in, un-challenged. Phoenix getting the first goal at 23min 54sec. The goal really ignited the atmosphere in this Pyro derby and the Ice Dome started rocking. The Phoenix started to exert some control in the game and extended their lead 4 minutes later. Michal Psurny getting the Phoenix second at 27min 26sec. Phoenix continued to control the game, with Duggan the most notable performer for the Flames. With 30sec to go in the period Robin Kovar capped off an impressive second stanza for the home team. 

Third Period: 3-0 with one to go is a good position to be in but, you cannot count the Flames out. While they were missing Kristoffersson and Huppe there was still more than enough talent on that bench to get back into the game. The next goal would be crucial and, it was the Phoenix who got it. James Archer scoring a neat powerplay goal after some precise passing. The 4th goal coming at 48min 22sec. The Phoenix extended their lead soon after, you have to watch Phoenix TV for this one! Robin Kovar broke down the left win, held off a Flames player and slotted the puck past Lee for a beut of a goal at 49min 44sec. Flames heads visibly dropped and the game was done. The Phoenix had to work hard still to keep the Flames out, in an effort to give Fone the big SO! Robert Schnabel capped off an impressive victory with a booming slapshot from the blue line at 52min 01sec. 

Verdict: Big crowd, big performance and a big win! Phoenix will be number one for Christmas! While the Flames bench was depleted that takes nothing away from a superb Phoenix performance. This will be a game the players and fans will savour! 

Attendance: Biggest of the season probably, i'll guess at 1,800 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 6 Guildford 0 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 6 Guildford 0 - Flames Article
Phoenix 6 Guildford 0 - MEN
Phoenix 6 Guildford 0 - Sky Sports

Phoenix 6 Guildford 0 - Get Surrey