The Angry Budgie Live

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Phoenix v Peterborough Phantoms 15th Feb

With the disappointment of a cup exit and, the Phoenix recent run of results, the Phantoms game could be seen as just what the Phoenix needed. A game against a lower ranked team and a team already looking towards next season. Having said that, the Phantoms roster does still boast some threat, with Koulikov and Pliskauskas the visitors have two of the best players in the EPL. Saturday night games are unusual for the Phoenix and, can sometimes lead to surprising results. 

First Period: Off we went and the Phoenix looked a little more composed in their own zone than recent games. The Phantoms were struggling to put together meaningful attempts at goal but were still finding the odd shooting lane. With the Phoenix enjoying the early possession the home side were getting plenty of shots on the Phantoms net but it would be the second half of the period before the deadlock was broken. Bakrlik on the powerplay scoring a lovely goal at 12min 41sec.  Less than two minutes later the Phoenix doubled their advantage when, in some fans eyes the villain of recent games Joe Graham became here with a good shot from the blue line. His goal coming at 14min 21sec. The Phoenix continued to press the Phantoms goal but found the netminder in good form. 

Second Period: The second period can often be a tough one for Phoenix for some reason. This time the Phoenix got the perfect start when, less than 90 seconds after puck drop Richie Bentham scored the Phoenix 3rd. His goal timed at 21min 29sec. A great start for Phoenix and one which really hit home the control and advantage Phoenix were enjoying so far in the game. The Phoenix became to create some fantastic moves and pepper the Phantoms net with shots. Despite this the Phantoms did get the odd chance or two, with a Phoenix player in the penalty box the Phantoms capitalised on such an opportunity. On the powerplay Piatak scored at 34min 38sec to make it 3-1 Phoenix. The home side responded and, staying out of the penalty box, took control of the period. 

Third Period: The Phoenix had to be careful in the early stages of the third period. 3-1 against the Phantoms should be a comfortable position but, just one goal from the Phantoms and the dynamic changes completely. Thankfully the home side got the next goal. Bakrlik getting his second at 48min 29sec. His goal sparked somewhat of a goal rush. just about 45sec later the Phantoms reduced the deficit to 2 again when Luke Ferrara scored at 50min 15sec. Then, seconds later James Archer scored the home sides 5th goal at 50min 32sec to really kill the game. With the score now 5-2 with about 10 minutes to go the game was done. Both teams wound down the clock until the final buzzer sounded. 

Verdict: Not a classic game but very much a case of, 'win at any cost' type of game. The Phoenix had been struggling at home and needed a result to keep pace at the top of the EPL. The win was a very welcome one, and good to see some players get over recent disappointments. I was a little surprised with the Phantoms too, I know they are struggling and looking to next season. But I honestly forgot Pliskauskas was playing for them. He really was non existent in the game! With his quality the Phantoms need to help him out and involve him in the game! 

Attendance: Not too bad for a saturday game, i'll say 1,100 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 5 Phantoms 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Phantoms 2 - Phantoms Article

Telford 0 Phoenix 1 - Phoenix Article

Telford 0 Phoenix 1 - Tigers Article

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Phoenix v MK Lightning EPL Cup 2nd Leg 13th Feb

The EPL Cup Semi Final first leg was held in the Coventry SkyDome, the temporary home of the MK Lightning. The two legged affair would be keenly contested between the two sides and  the result in the first leg would go a massive way to deciding the result. In the early stages of the third period it looked signed, sealed and delivered for MK to the final. At the time they were 5-2 up. Then, either it was a massive collapse of an amazing turnaround for the Phoenix but, in the last 3 minutes the Phoenix hauled it back to tie it up 5-5 as the buzzer sounded. Setting the tie up perfectly for the 2nd leg in Altrincham. 

First Period: The second leg in Altrincham got off to a fast start, with both sides putting some great moves together. It was obvious from the outset this would be another close game. MK got the scoring underway with a goal at 5min 55sec through Joklia. Worrying this was another poor D zone turnover for the Phoenix. Something that is becoming a bit of a habit for the Phoenix! Even though MK scored first there was not a feeling of impending doom in the stands, the Phoenix had done enough to show they could create scoring chances. The Phoenix did level it up, at 11min 16 through James Neil. Not the first name when you think of scorers on the Phoenix bench, but Neil took his goal well. About a minute later the Phoenix took the lead when Frantisek Bakrlik picked up the puck and put a lovely deke on Wall to slide home at 12min 36sec. This time the Phoenix closed out the period without conceding a late goal. End of the first period, advantage Phoenix. 

Second Period: Much like the Sheffield game, the early composure showed by the Phoenix seemed to disappear in the second period. MK came back into the game and started to pressure the Phoenix into making mistakes. It was on a Phoenix powerplay that MK would capitalise and score a short handed goal. Lascek scoring at 24min 52sec. Halfway through the period MK took the lead in the game and the tie when MK captain Carr scored at 30min 59sec. Phoenix fans had begun to loose some heart but for Luke Boothroyd to restore parity scoring at 35min 17sec on the powerplay. There was some controversy over this goal with claims of a player being in the crese, nothing was ruled and the goal stood. The Phoenix D lapses surfaced again when Carr scored again on a tight angle on Fone's nearside post, goal timed at 36min 06sec. The D failed and Fone should not have been beaten on his near post, very disappointing!  What made it worse was, shortly after, the Phoenix thought they had tied the game but, this time, the goal was washed out for a man in the crease. End of the second, advantage MK. 

Third Period: 20 minutes to save the tie the Phoenix pressed MK hard. Wall was performing heroics in goal keeping the Phoenix at bay. One goal was scored and it was that man, James Neil again. On the powerplay a strong shot trickled under Wall and the Phoenix had tied the game at 44min 46sec. As the period progressed the Phoenix began to edge the game and look the more likely to take the win. Having said that, MK did threaten and have more than enough skill to hurt a team if a mistake is forced. End of the period, no advantage, back to square one! 

Overtime: The final stanza of open hockey began with both teams pressing each other while in possession. The Phoenix were pressed back into their own zone and, awfully, yet another D zone turnover cost the home side their first crack at the EPL cup. Hero of the game James Neil suddenly became the villain when a poor clearing pass trickled out to the hash marks for Lascek to pick up and score. The game winner timed at 61min 03sec. 

Verdict:  James Neil will be the villain of the piece but, and criticism levelled at him personally is not justified. The Phoenix, through their own lapses in D cost the game. At least 3 of MK's goals were stone cold gifted by Phoenix giveaways. Of the three games I have now seen since coming back from honeymoon this trend is worrying. While being in for all three cup's, if the Phoenix cannot iron out their defencive wobbles, they could end the season empty handed. A very frustrating loss, a game which the Phoenix could have won comfortably gifted to the visitors. Ah well, next! 

Attendance: Around 700 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 4 MK 5 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 MK 5 - MK Article

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Phoenix v Sheffield Steeldogs 9th February

After Telford had broken the Phoenix superb home record the weekend before, the Sheffield Steeldogs were the next side in town. The Phoenix would have to dig deep for this one as games versus Sheffield are far from pretty. It would be tough, no two ways about it, Sheffield play a hard chippy game and one that frequently crosses the line. We all know this so, it was down to the Phoenix to deal with it. 

First Period: The game got underway with both sets of fans making lots of noise. The game on the ice started feisty, which is no surprise, and hockey was hard to come by in the early exchanges. Fone had started well in the Phoenix net but, Sedlar was pulling off some amazing saves to keep Sheffield in the game. All the pressure, by the Phoenix, finally told. At 15min 38sec Robin Kovar finally broke the deadlock to put the home side ahead. With the first goal scored the game opened up and the Phoenix began to edge the play. A few minutes later Jack Watkins scored a blast of a shot at 17min 11sec to increase the home sides advantage. The Phoenix were cruising but, perhaps because of that, a lapse of concentration cost them a perfect period. Into the last minute Joe Graham had the puck and cleared up ice without looking. The puck went right between two Sheffield players, who skated in un-marked to score. Korhun getting the goal at 19min 21sec. 

Second Period: This would be a tough period for the Phoenix. They would have to get over the disappointment of conceding so late in the first and the manner of the goal too. As the puck dropped, it seemed like the Phoenix were still in the dressing room. There were some worrying lapses in defence and the passing was not clicking at all. The first 4 minutes of the period would proved to be vital. Sheffield got the early goal to tie the game, at 22min 45sec through Greg Wood, then less than a minute later Korhun put the visitors ahead, scoring the Steeldogs third at 23min 36sec. The home fans were in shock but, the two goal salvo did at least wake the Phoenix. With composure returning the Phoenix began to lay siege to Sedlar's goal only to find the Sheffield nettie in outstanding form. 

Third Period: 20 minutes for the Phoenix to pull the game back from the brink. The Steeldogs continued to play their usual game which frustrates the Phoenix, perfect road game in a way! Sedlar continued to face the vast majority of shots but, try as they may, the Phoenix just could not get through. The action % on the rink must have been hugely in the Phoenix favour, with the puck spending most of the period in the Sheffield end. Credit to Andre though, the Sheffield team are a hard unit to break down. Much to the home fans dismay the clock continued to tick down until, ultimately, the buzzer went and confined the Phoenix to a second home loss in a row. 

Verdict: Another frustrating home loss for the Phoenix. A game where a needless D zone mistake gave the visitors a way back in to the game. Had the Phoenix gone in 2-0 up I am confident they would have won. Sheffield did what they always did, and seem to get away with in the EPL, got their nose in front and sat back. Sedlar, justifiably, got their MOM award, he was simply outstanding! 

Attendance: A good crowd for the derby game, 1,300. 

Phoenix 2 Sheffield 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 2 Sheffield 3 - The Bolton News
Phoenix 2 Sheffield 3 - Steeldogs Article

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Phoenix v Telford Tigers 2nd Feb

Time to dust this blog off and get the hockey juices flowing again! I apologise the lack of updates on this blog over the past few weeks, I blame myself! Been off on my own honeymoon visiting far away lands! Anyway it was back with a bang, arriving back saturday morning it was back to the Ice Dome and my regular sunday engagement with the Phoenix. The visitors tonight were the Telford Tigers version 2.0! Much has been said of the Tigers recent transformation and the switch in ethos that seems to have happened, from fan ownership to wealthy benefactor. Im sure many of you have read and, even participated in those discussions in the EPL hockey community. 

For me, Tigers fans just have to be careful. Much goodwill was afforded their club when they rose from the ashes and, it seems that goodwill is eroding quite quickly! Anyway, enough about that, the game! 

First Period: This new look Tigers team is very impressive. Even from the early minutes of this game they have skill, strength in depth and desire. The Tigers took it to the Phoenix from the off and got their reward after just 2 minutes. Scott McKenzie getting the visitors on the board first. The Phoenix slowly began to get their act together and get into the game, as Telford were dominating the early stages. The Phoenix did get on the board midway through the first session with Michal Psurny getting the goal at 11min 37sec. After the shaky start the Phoenix began to exert some control over the period but Telford were still in the game. 

Second Period: The second period would turn out to be the key in the game, Telford got the first goal on the powerplay at 22min 26sec from Rick Plant.  A few minutes after the goal the games controversial moment happened. With Ryan's stick behind the goal and no player to assist the referee took the stick and handed it to him. To the fans this was unfair but, according to the officials there is no rule against it. Make of that what you will! The Phoenix fans anger was not helped when the Tigers went 2 clear with another powerplay goal at 29min 18sec when Miller made it 1-3. With the game beginning to slip the Phoenix needed to get something working. They were handed an opportunity on the powerplay and Robert Schnabel 'did a Boother' and scored on the back post. Really nice finish, at 35min 35sec. The Phoenix then had another PP opportunity but could not capitalise, then, in the last 30sec the Tigers killed the game. At 39.34 Rick Plant made it 2-4 then, a real killer goal as the buzzer sounded Adam Walker sliding the puck under Fone to make it 2-5. Game over! 

Third Period: For me the game was over, the second period was horrible for the Phoenix and, with the Tigers looking so good and confident it would be tough, nigh on impossible, to rescue the game. That being said, the Phoenix made a game of it and competed, Tony Hand even scoring a PPG at 46min 34sec to create a slight glimmer of hope. Just after the halfway mark that glimmer was extinguished. With the Phoenix on the PPG, the Tigers scored a short handed goal to close out the game. The puck taking a freak bounce leaving Fone stranded and Kirinvanta free to score. The goal coming at 51min 32sec. 

Verdict: The Tigers v2 will be challenging for the title next year if their bigger budget remains. They were skilful, confident and had that strength in depth you need to be challenging at the top. For the Phoenix it was a weekend to forget, they were not far off the game but it was not a good all round performance either. Absolutely no issues with the result or scoreline for me! 

Attendance: A good crowd in, i'll say 1,200 

Phoenix 3 Tigers 6 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 Tigers 6 - Trafford Messenger
Phoenix 3 Tigers 6 - The Bolton News
Phoenix 3 Tigers 6 - Tigers Article