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.
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