Another weekend in the books, a mixed weekend for the Phoenix, both in terms of the fixtures themselves and the results! Saturday saw the Phoenix make their second trip down to Hampshire to face the Bison, before returning to the Ice Dome for the first Lancashire derby for....like....ages, when they took on the Blackburn Hawks at the Ice Dome.
Saturday's trip to Bisonland was an EPL fixture and, saw the Phoenix edged out in another close encounter. This time coming home on the wrong side of a 7 goal thriller, losing to the Bison 4-3. Club match reports below and, if you fancy a fan take on things, head on over to Banners on the Wall.
Bison 4 Phoenix 3 - Bison Article
Bison 4 Phoenix 3 - Phoenix Article
As for sunday nights game, this was a fixture I had been looking forward to ever since the details of the new Cup competition were announced. Reasons why? This dates back to my birth! My mum was physio for the original Trafford Metro's/Altrincham Aces back when the converted Ringway aircraft hangar used to sit on Devonshire Road. From birth I was taken to Metro's/Ace's games and as I grew, the derby games against the Hawks were some of the best games I saw growing up. Seeing the likes of Oleg Sinkov, Rick Ferra, Claud Dumas putting up ridiculous numbers will live long in my memory. Being around 9-10 or 11 when these games were on, I always remember the Ice Rink being packed, thinking wow, there are thousands in here, when it was probably only a few hundred. The old barn would be packed, awesome atmosphere. Those games against the Hawks will stay with me forever. So the arrival of the Hawks was something I had been looking forward to.
Having said all that, it would still be an EPL team taking on a NIHL team but, Hawks were better than the Stars right?
I will admit to knowing little about the Hawks current roster, which made the build up all the more exciting. A big crowd arrived at the Ice Dome, swelled by a good contingent of Hawks fans. The lights went out, teams arrived and we were ready to go!
First Period: In front of a big crowd and an intense atmosphere the game got underway, right from the off the Phoenix made a mistake. I was not watching myself but, from others, Phoenix won the faceoff and the defence passed the puck back to Ryan in goal to give him an early touch. Trouble was, he wasn't expecting the pass, goal! After just 10sec the Hawks had the lead, with Jarred Owen credited as the scorers. This early goal for the Hawks ignited their fans and gave their players such a lift. The First ten minutes of this game were played at such a pace and intensity it was a true local derby. Despite the early set back the Phoenix tried to remain calm on the puck and absorb the early pressure coming from the Hawks. The home side got on the board thanks to Frankie Bakrlik scoring at 4min 34sec. The Phoenix were giving the Hawks some chances through their usual defensive turnovers but, the Phoenix continued to carry the greater goal threat. Phoenix extended their lead just 27 sec later when Robin Kovar got in on the scoring action at 5min 01sec. Not to be outdone the Hawks hit right back just 39sec later when Adam Brittle tied the game at 5min 40sec. On the re-start the Phoenix looked to have finally settled despite the pressure from the Hawks. The Phoenix were rotating through two lines in the early stages, even so, the players began to exert some control and look comfortable on the ice. Frankie Bakrlik put the home side ahead once more at 7min 32sec and then Jack Watkins capped some superb play to score through the 5-hole at 9min 50sec. Jack's goal capping a madcap first 10mins in this local derby, the Phoenix ahead 4-2. After the intense first 10mins the first period settled down and the intensity dropped off. Fans in the stands were still having a great time but the game on the ice returned to an EPL team facing a NIHL team. Before the period close the Phoenix added one more goal, a hattrick goal for Bakrlik on the powerplay at 16min exactly.
Second Period: The second session saw some of the stuffing nocked out of the Hawks as the home side ran riot in the second session. Jarred Dickinson was loving the extra ice time he was seeing and he owned the second period. Looking so comfortable on the puck Jarred extended the Phoenix lead at 22min 54sec then again at 24min 56sec. Two quick fire goals from the Phoenix sparked the Hawks into life and, their star player so far, Adam Brittle got another, the Hawks 3rd goal coming at 28min 55sec. Dickinson secured his hattrick just a minute later at 29min 52sec, and another goal followed in quick succession, Bakrlik getting his fourth at 30min 40sec. After the crazy first ten minutes the second half of the 2nd period calmed down but still saw two further goals. Kovar got his second of the game at 34min 25sec and Bobby Chamberlain got on the board with a powerplay goal at 38min 07sec.
Third Period: With the game won the Phoenix eased off and this allowed the Hawks a little more freedom to play. The Hawks looked to have a little more stamina in the game than the Stars did and this allowed them to keep pressing the Phoenix. The Hawks hit two quick goals in the early stages of the final period, Adam Brittle sealing his hattrick at 43min 15sec and then Jarred Owen getting his second goal 12seconds later at 43min 27sec. No one believed the big comeback was on but, it did add a little edge to the remainder of the period! Despite the two quick goals the Phoenix scored once more at 44min 24sec when Chamberlain got his second of the night. The fans of both teams truly seeing a goal fest! After all that scoring the second half of the final period saw no further goals scored.
Verdict: A big win in the first proper local derby in ages. Ok, so the result wasn't too surprising, the Phoenix were expected to win and, despite the scoreline, the Hawks offered more going forward than Billingham had. Perhaps the Stars had a better goaltender in Flavell which kept the score down. I was impressed with how the Hawks took on the game, they could have tried to limit the score but they came out flying and took the game to the Phoenix. Perhaps this also contributed to the scoreline. Stuart Ashton in the Hawks net looked to struggle, with the sheer power of shots coming his way, especially from Bakrlik, he struggled to stop them. Credit to the Hawks fans who were loud and proud throughout! Some stats/highlights from the period:
Shots on Ashton (Hawks) 45, shots on Ryan (Phoenix) 23
Bakrlik - 4 goals, sat out for third period
Kovar - 2 gls 2 ass, sat out for third period
Thompson - 5 assists
Dickinson - 3gls 1 assists
Dickinson got a deserved MOM for the home side in a real stand out game for the Phoenix!
Attendance: Big crowd in the Dome 1,500
Phoenix 12 Hawks 5 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 12 Hawks 5 - Hawks Article