The Angry Budgie Live

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Phoenix v Telford Tigers 23rd March

The final weekend of the regular season had arrived, the Phoenix came into the weekend already confirmed as champions. In that sense the weekend was a dead rubber but, the team will still want to win to maintain form going into the playoff's. The final weekend of the season would still be tough for the Phoenix, an away trip saturday to the Peterborough Phantoms was followed by a home game versus the Telford Tigers. 

Peterborough has not been an easy place for the Phoenix to go. Results have been mixed over the past season. The game would prove to be another tough one and close throughout. Though, the Phoenix were able to take the win scoring in overtime taking a 3-2 win. More worrying were reports, by Phoenix players no less, of the home fans throwing coins. James Neil being the unfortunate one who was hit by coins thrown by Phantoms fans. Not cool Peterborough, not cool! 

With the win secured the Phoenix returned home to face up the Tigers in their last regular season game. A large contingent of Tigers fans joined the large home support to create a wonderful atmosphere for the last game of the season. A win for the Phoenix and they would end the season on 80 points and perfect momentum into the playoffs. A loss would see the season end on a damp squib and, possibly, hand the Tigers a slight mental advantage should the two sides meet in Coventry. 

First Period:  The puck dropped and off we went, the game was played at a fast pace with both sides putting pressure on the net minders. The Tigers and Phoenix putting together some great moves which kept the fans in attendance entertained.  Telford opened the scoring when Davies lit the lamp with 7min 44sec gone sending the visiting fans crazy. The Tigers have some momentum about them and can be considered challengers for the post season crown. The game carried on at a high level, the intensity was great to watch. The Phoenix kept in the game putting more shots in on Ryan but had to wait until 14min 08sec before James Archer equalised for the home side. 

Second Period: Tigers got the jump on in the second period when Timo Kuulivainen scored at 23min 12sec. Timo showing some of the skill that the Phoenix had hoped for before his injury. The period carried on with both teams playing end-to-end hockey, the Phoenix began to control the puck a bit more but it was the Tigers who would score next. Rose scoring at 38min 59sec with a superb shot from the blue line. Fone just didn't see it with the screen in front. The end of the period came and, despite creating more chances, the Phoenix headed into the break 3-1 down. 

Third Period: A big big period needed for the Phoenix and they got one! Just 80sec into the period James Archer grabbed his second of the night. The Phoenix really upped the pressure looking for the equaliser but found Telford in resolute form. The Phoenix did find their way back into the game, on the penalty kill! With a man sat out the Phoenix levelled the game midway through the third period with the hattrick goal for James Archer, timed at 50min 50sec. The go-ahead goal came 30sec later, again on the penalty kill, when Tony Hand was found clear up ice, who skatyed in and unleashed a breathtaking shot to beat Ryan. The Phoenix ahead and the home fans going wild. Despite the lead Telford were still in the game and Kiviranta would force the extra session when he tapped in a great moved at 54min 27sec to tie the game. 

Overtime: With the point secured and, with it the Phoenix would finish on at least 79 points the teams would fight it out for the extra point. Phoenix lost the faceoff but were able to regain possesion early on. The game would be decided quickly though, Michal Psurny, so often the hero this season, would do it again. The Phoenix broke up ice, with Psurny driving the net, who then pulled off a lovely move to make Ryan spread across the goal opening up the gap. Psurny scoring at 61mins to give the Phoenix the win. 

Verdict: A fantastic game to cap off an excellent season for the Phoenix. Credit to the Tigers fans for clapping the Phoenix onto the Ice and for sticking around after the final whistle. Both teams played their part in the game and will both take the positives from it into the post season. The Phoenix will be pleased to have the edge over the Tigers should they meet in Coventry. 

Attendance: Another big crowd in the Ice Dome, 1,800. 

Phoenix 5 Telford 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Telford 4 - Tigers Article
Phoenix 5 Telford 4 - The Bolton News

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Phoenix v Basingstoke Bison 16th March

The weekend had arrived, the most important weekend of the season for Phoenix and Bison fans, the long road finally lead to sunday night's epic clash between the top two for the EPL crown. Before the title decider both teams had saturday games to play, Bison at home to Steeldogs and the Phoenix away to the Wildcats. The Angry Budgie made a rare away day to Swindon saturday. The trip gave a chance to catch up with some old friends and take in the Wildcats/Phoenix game. 

So we have a brief run down of the Phoenix away in Swidon.......Phoenix were rubbish! 
Really as simple as that, the team played badly and got what they points. It was, comfortably, the worst performance of the season by the Phoenix, as described by fellow Phoenix fans  and, even a Wildcats fan. Passing was poor, we just couldn't set up regularly in the Wildcats zone, which led to little quality chances on Lyle. All that being said, credit to the Wildcats! They are in good form at the moment and worked hard on upsetting the Phoenix. The forecheck was high and they really hustled centre ice which disrupted the Phoenix transition into their zone. 

Wildcats 2 Phoenix 0 - Phoenix Article
Wildcats 2 Phoenix 0 - Wildcats Article

Absolutely no issues from me with the result. With the Bison beating Sheffield at home the sunday meeting between the two sides became the nailed on title decider it was always likely to be! Pleasing for me was to see some Phoenix players reactions to saturday nights game, this meant I went to Sunday's game weirdly confident! 

After a long drive north from Swindon it was an early arrival at the Ice Dome for The Angry Budgie. A big big crowd came to the Ice Dome to watch this vital game, including a big contingent from Basingstoke. The lights went out, the players came onto the ice and the puck dropped on the biggest game in the EPL season to date. 

First Period: With Wardell in charge, in Altrincham for the first time in ages, the title decider got underway. Bison have a strong roster this year and, certainly  bigger roster than the Phoenix. The first period was tight and tense, as you would expect. The home crowd were doing their best and the atmosphere was fantastic in the first period. After the dire performance the previous night the Phoenix came out the blocks looking their old self against the Bison. Taking the puck and creating most of the chances the Phoenix settled some nerves by lighting the lamp first. James Archer scoring the first goal of the game at 12min 09sec. The goal brought the game to life and the Bison worked hard to get back on level terms. The first goal for the Bison did come in the first when Melichrino tied the game at 17min 16sec. The goal silencing the home crowd for a few moments. The period continued at a high pace until the buzzer sounded ending a thoroughly entertaining 20mins of hockey. 

Second Period: The second period continued as the first had left off, both sets of fans making lots of noise and the game remaining tight on the ice. Mettam as being worked a little more than Fone but the Bison were still pressing and keeping the Phoenix honest in defence. Chances continued to be made until midway through the second period when the Phoenix extended their lead. After gaining the Bison zone the Phoenix moved the puck around the perimeter until Schnabel had it on the point. With a good screen on Mettam Schnabel let rip with a pin point wrister to score the Phoenix second at 29min 51sec. Phoenix fans upped the noise level and were rewarded with another goal with 5 minutes to go in the period. A superb bit of passing opened up the Bison D so Hand had some space on the goal line who then found Psurny un-marked on the back post for an easy tap in. The third goal coming at 35min 24sec. The delight in the stands was instantly shattered when, Bison showed their own quality by hitting right back. Doug Sheppard capping a quick and incisive move that saw the Bison score straight from the faceoff and reduce the arrears to one goal, goal timed at 35min 53sec. So 3-2 Phoenix with the Bison hitting right back was a blow, the last few minutes were still even and filled with good hockey. In fact the home fans were delighted once more when Tony Hand took a shot on the powerplay and restored the Phoenix two goal lead. His PP goal coking at 37min 53sec. The final few minutes would be key. If the Phoenix could end the period 2 goals ahead the title would be edging ever closer. 

Third Period: 20 minutes, 20 minutes separated the Phoenix from their 2nd EPL title. Personally I could not look at the clock, I didn't want to! The Phoenix were calming the nerves though, possible combined with the Bison legs tiring, they had a tough game versus Sheffield the night before, so the Phoenix began to control the period. Not wanting to over extend too much the Phoenix played it simple....for the most part! Haha! The two sides continued to battle with Fone and Mettam pulling off some great stops but the clock continued to tick down. Going into the final few minutes the Bison pressed and pulled Mettam. Phoenix tried for the empty net but missing by inches at times. The clock got into the last 10 seconds and the Phoenix won the faceoff, cycled the puck round the back boards to Kovar who lofted it goalwards and, in true fairy tail style, the empty net goal was scored at 59min 59sec. Cue pandemonium on the ice and in the stands, the Phoenix had done it, EPL champions baby! 

Verdict: Putting aside the obvious, this was a really good performance form the Phoenix. It often takes the best opposition for the Phoenix to really play but they did. This was a solid controlling display from the home side who showed few, if any, nerves throughout the game.The whole team stepped up in the face of a quality Bison side and deserved the win. Also a special note again to the Choir Boys, fantastic effort to create a great great atmosphere! 

Attendance: Really good crowd, well, for a title decider you'd expect so! 1,800 in the Ice Dome i'll guess! 

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

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Phoenix v Guildford Flames 8th March

The Phoenix came into their second 3 game weekend in some good form as the race for the title really heats up! The Flames had dropped away a little leaving the Phoenix and Bison the favourites to duke it out for the league crown. The second tough weekend for the Phoenix began with a trip to Peterborough to take on the Phantoms before, returning home to face the Flames then a sunday away day to the resurgent Telford Tigers. When chasing a league title the Phoenix don't have a good record in Peterborough. On this occasion the Phoenix would come away empty handed again, the Phantoms skating to a 6-4 win. The Phoenix do have one more trip to Peterborough before the end of the season, I only hope the fate of the title is decided before then! 

Phantoms 6 Phoenix 4 - Phoenix Article
Phantoms 6 Phoenix 4 - Phantoms Article

With one of the games in hand played in Peterborough, the Phoenix faced the Guildford Flames before playing the second game in hand at Telford on sunday. The Flames game on saturday would be a cracker, as they usually are between the two sides but, with the added carrot's of vital league points and the opportunity to put the Flames further out of the running. A large crowd turned up and off we went. 

First Period: The game began at quite a pace with both sides creating chances and speeding about the ice. The Phoenix had most of the puck in the early stages but were not getting many/if any quality shots in on Mark Lee. Even the first period would make Phoenix TV viewing essential. The Flames would get the scoring started when Opatovsky stepped out the box, picked up a looping puck through centre ice, exchanged a one-two with Melicherik to put the puck past a prone Fone. The goal really was fantastic and great to watch, even though it was the visitors who scored it! That was the only goal of the period, while the Phoenix were behind, they had done enough to suggest they could get back in the game. 

Second Period: The second period saw the Phoenix frustrated, having lots of the puck just wasn't turning into chances. The Flames playing a disciplined road game which kept the home side out. Phoenix did finally get going on the powerplay when Bakrlik unleashed a canon of a shot to leave Lee no chance, the Phoenix on the board at 26min 04sec. Parity only lasted around 3 minutes when the Flames capitalised on some lax defending to re-take the lead at 29min 11sec through Hemmings. The Phoenix tried hard through the latter half of the period but could not find a way through. 

Third Period: A big effort was needed in the third period and, it couldn't have started worse for the Phoenix! Just 53sec into the period former Phoenix man Kristoffersson put the Flames 3-1 up. 2 goals back would be tough and, it was easily one of those, title challenge rests on the next 19 minutes type of moments! Thankfully, the Phoenix got going just as the Flames discipline deserted them. On the powerplay the Phoenix got one back at 44min 36sec through Michael Psurny who had, up until that point, looked a little quiet. Kristoffersson hit back with another for the Glames about 30sec later the restore the 2 goal advantage, his goal at 45min 03sec. A big effort was needed, the crowd were up for it, creating one of the best atmospheres I think I have ever experienced at the Ice Dome. This lifted the home side and, again on the powerplay, Frankie Bakrlik scored to reduce the deficit, his goal at 46min 43sec. The Phoenix momentum continued to build as did the noise, the roof almost blew off at 47min 57sec when Bakrlik scored again. If the roof didnt blow off then, it did with 3 minutes to go. Once more on the Powerplay, with Kvetan in for a stupid high sticks penalty, Robin Kovar scored a beut of a goal at 57min 24sec to put the Phoenix ahead. The Ice Dome exploded as the home fans saw the potential of this result. With the Bison losing a win here would put the Phoenix clear at the top of the table. The noise level rose as the seconds ticked by until the final buzzer went. Phoenix win 5-4. 

Verdict: It makes a difference when your team wins a game like this but, what a game! Fans of both sides said it was an epic. The game, the noise, the importance of the win all added up to a night to remember. The Phoenix had to dig deep to get back in this one but deserved the points in the end. The Flames will wonder how they didn't get anything from it but, quite simply, it was their frequent trips to the sin bin which did it! What a game! Tune in to Phoenix TV you won't be disappointed! 

Attendance: Really good crowd in the Ice Dome, i'll say 1,400 in.

Phoenix 5 Flames 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Flames 4 - Flames Article

Phoenix TV, a good one to watch:

The weekend was completed with the Phoenix making the short trip to Telford. Another tough game in an already tough weekend. The Phoenix dug deep again and stayed in front throughout the game, heading back north with a 5-4 win and a clear 4 point lead at the top of the EPL table. 


Tigers 4 Phoenix 5 - Tigers Article

Tigers 4 Phoenix 5 - Phoenix Article
Tigers 4 Phoenix 5 - Shropshire Star

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Phoenix v Swindon Wildcats 2nd March

This past weekend would see the Phoenix begin to make up some of their games in hand on the Basingstoke Bison. It would be a tough weekend too with 3 games in 3 nights, starting with two tough road games against the Steeldogs and Bees. Before welcoming the Swindon Wildcats to the Ice Dome. 

Sheffield 2 Phoenix 3 - Steeldogs
Sheffield 2 Phoenix 3 - Phoenix
Bracknell 1 Phoenix 5 - Bees

Bracknell 1 Phoenix 5 - Phoenix

The win in Sheffield was important as that was a game in hand, it is vital for the Phoenix to convert those games in hand to wins. The win in Bracknell rammed home the previous win. The game against Swindon would now be so important to give the Phoenix a 6pt weekend and really give them an advantage in the title hunt. It would still be a hard game as Swindon are no pushovers and, this game would be the third in three nights. No matter who you are, that is a big toll on the body. So the faithful gathered together to welcome Hoog, Nell and the rest of the Wildcats to Altrincham for the last game in a tough weekend! 

First Period: The Phoenix had to make a good start in the game, being the 3rd in 3 nights if the Phoenix were lax and allowed Swindon to control the game it would be a long and frustrating night for the home side. The Phoenix came out the blocks hard, hoping to take the early initiative. The Phoenix took the first penalty of the period but killed it off without much fuss. The first Swidon powerplay gave the Phoenix a chance to score, and they did. Robin Kovar scoring a powerplay goal at 9min 16sec. This kicked off a great period of dominance by the home side as they extended the lead soon after. James Archer, profiting on being on the top line, scored the 2nd goal at 12min 14sec. The 3rd goal came just before the close of the period when Tony Hand scored at 17min 58sec. A great shot from a great player capped off a perfect period for the Phoenix, the home side up 3-0. 

Second Period: The Wildcats upped their game in the second period and began to frustrate the home side. They were working hard on protecting Lyle and he was also pulling off some great saves. The Wildcats main offensive threat came from Hoog and Nell who, apart from being some of the best forwards in the EPL, are damn fast! With the Phoenix beginning to tire the Wildcats began to press for a goal. Halfway through the period they got their chance, after a questionable call on James Archer the Wildcats went on the PP. I say questionable as Archer was called for goalie interference, ignoring the fact it was a Wildcats player who pushed him onto Lyle and pinned him down, hey ho! EPL officiating everyone! On the resulting powerplay the Wildcats did get their goal, when Hoog lit the lamp at 28min 24sec. With the score at 3-1 the game became much more tense, the Wildcats were on the up and the Phoenix were just beginning to tire. The home side made it to the end of the session still ahead, 3-1. 

Third Period: The final period would be a big test for the Phoenix, the Wildcats have enough skill in their top line to haul a result back from the edge. The Phoenix, and their tiring legs had to make it through one more period for an epic weekend. The first 10 minutes of the period passed with both teams working hard on scraps. As the game moved into the final furlong the Phoenix struck first, Frankie Bakrlik scoring at 52min 44sec. This eased some fears in the home support. You can never count Swidon out though, at 55min 29sec Aaron Nell scored the Wildcats 2nd of the night, he really is too good for the EPL. Things became really interesting when Hoog scored again, on the powerplay at 59min 04sec. The last minute was so tense, the Wildcats rushing pressure and a fantastic faceoff win by Kovar with 7 to go killed the game. 

Verdict: A good win and one that was needed to keep the Phoenix in the title race. Being the 3rd in 3 nights this was such a tough test for the home side. A test they managed to pass. A brilliant first period, even second and a Wildcats third ensured a tight game. Thankfully the first period won it for the Phoenix. A real gutsy effort from the Phoenix! 

Attendance: I'll say 1,200 in the Ice Dome 

Phoenix 5 Swindon 4 - Phoenix
Phoenix 5 Swindon 4 - Wildcats

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Phoenix v Bracknell Bees 23rd February

The Phoenix welcomed the Bracknell Bees to the Altrincham Ice Dome and hoped to disrupt the Phoenix quest for a second EPL title. The Bees visits to Altrincham have, generally, been fruitless but this EPL season has seen the Bees claim their first win on Phoenix ice. With the season now nearing it's end the Phoenix will be keep to send the Bees back south with no points. 

First Period: Off we went and the Phoenix looked to take the early initiative. The Phoenix have to start taking games by the scruff of the neck early as visiting teams have found success by frustrating the Phoenix and keeping the scores close long into the game. The Bees do carry a threat going forward so they can never be totally written off. The home side did score the first goal, Robin Kovar continuing his purple patch scoring at 10min 04sec. The Bees came right back with some sustained pressure of their own, pressure which finally told when Smital brought the two sides level at 14min 47sec. Just under two minutes later the Phoenix restored their lead through Tony Hand, his goal coming at 16min 21sec. Battle recommenced but no further goals were scored in the period. 

Second Period: The second period was much more evenly contested with both goalies putting in a good show to stop some good scoring chances. The second was not completely bereft of scoring, the Phoenix lit the lamp first just after the half hour mark. James Archer scored again at 32min 07sec on the powerplay after some good work by the PP unit. The Bees hit right back when their own PP unit capitalised with the extra man when Rounding scored a controversial goal. The build up to the goal saw allot of traffic around Stephen Fone and, when the puck crossed the goal line there was clearly a Bees player in the crease behind Fone. Im not expert in the rules but, I thought, man in the crease meant no goal? Controversy aside the goal stood and by the buzzer, the Phoenix lead 3-2. 

Third Period: With the business end of the season upon us the Phoenix really took the game in the third period. Every single point was now vital as the Phoenix shared top spot with the Bison. Just 49sec into the period the Phoenix took the lead through Robin Kovar. The Phoenix upped the pressure and by the mid point of the period, had won the game. Andy McKinnie kept up his great contribution from the third line with the Phoenix 5th goal at 48min 54 sec then, about a minute later Frantisek Bakrlik got the Phoenix 6th and winner. 

Verdict: Potentially a tricky game for the Phoenix, the Bees are a tough team to beat. Thankfully the Phoenix dealt ok with the Bees top line and were able to get some goals early to retain control of the game. The third period was the icing on the cake as the Phoenix ran out deserved winners. 

Attendance: Good crowd in the Ice Dome, 1,200. 

Phoenix 6 Bees 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Bees 2 - The Bolton News