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