The Angry Budgie Live

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Phoenix Rolling - Double Trouble 15/16 November

Better late than never with the hockey reviews hey? 
Last weekend saw the Phoenix in a cup/league home double header and, the sunday game, was also a Groupon night. Saturday the Phoenix took on the Solway Sharks at the Ice Dome which saw the return of Ian Bowie and Richie Bentham to the Ice Dome. Guildford Flames were then the visitors for sunday night in a league encounter which would offer the Phoenix the chance to build on their recent league turnaround. The visit of the Flames, in the Pyro Derby, would see yet another ex-Phoenix player make his first return to the Dome in Andy McKinnie. Flames, more and more, becoming the Phoenix B team! 

As there are two games to review I will dispense with the usual period by period review and give you the facts and an overview of each game. 

So, up first, the Cup Crossover competition, saturday night against the Solway Sharks: 

Period 1: 
Phoenix, 6.33 Psurny 
Sharks, 7.47 Fulton 
Phoenix, 8.19 Chamberlain 
Sharks, 8.41 Bowie 

Period 2: 
Phoenix, 20.23 Burlin 
Phoenix, 28.04 Watkins 
Phoenix, 31.46 Wood 
Phoenix, 36.40 Walker 

Period 3: 
Phoenix, 44.27 Chamberlain 
Phoenix DPG 45.06 Chamberlain 
Phoenix, 45.46 Dickinson 
Phoenix, 56.20 Psurny 

The Sharks came out and worked hard during the first period and the scoreline after the first 20 was representative of that. However, the next 40min there were no further surprises. The Phoenix controlled the game and ran up the score with the second and third lines getting some reward on the scoreboard for their efforts. So no major surprises in the game, it was good to see Richie Bentham again and, playing at NIHL level he did look a cut above his team-mates. Good luck to you Richie! 

Phoenix 10 Solway 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 10 Solway 2 - Solway Article

The second home game of the weekend saw the Flames come north to a packed Ice Dome (see panorama on my twitter feed) for another installment of the Pyro Derby. With Andy McKinnie moving south the, ex-Phoenix contingent now playing for Guildford now numbers 4, even so a warm welcome was offered and off we went! 

Period 1: 
Phoenix, 7.23 Psurny 

Period 2: 
Flames, 25.55 Huppe 
Phoenix, 27.57 Psurny 

Period 3: 
Phoenix, 47.39 Archer 
Flames, 49.13 Hemmings 
Flames, 49.23 Kvetan 
Phoenix, 58.40 Thompson 
Phoenix ENG, 59.59 Psurny 

This was another good performance from the Phoenix, they worked so hard closing Guildford down all over the ice. The Flames didn't have much of a plan B to counter it. It was great to see the efforts from the Bison game were being applied again and getting results. Michal Psurny was back in goal scoring form and also pleasing to see James Archer scoring after his long layoff. There were some worries when the Flames brought it back to 3-3 after two very very fortunate goals. So the relief on the ice and in the stands when Shaun Thompson got the 4th was incredible. The players and big crowd erupted! This is another game to watch on Phoenix TV no doubt about it! 

Phoenix 5 Guildford 3 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 5 Guildford 3 - Flames Article

Phoenix TV:

Sorry for the truncated nature of this weeks post, hopefully normal service will be resumed next week!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 9th November Basingstoke Bison

The Phoenix were continuing to struggle in the league, coming into last weekend, I believe, the Phoenix were on a 6 game losing streak coming into the weekends action. A run simply not good enough for the current league champions and, a run, which lead to the Phoenix falling to 8th place in the EPL table. Saturday's away game to basement club Bracknell Bees would offer relief....right? 

Bees 3 Phoenix 1 - Bees Article
Bees 3 Phoenix 1 - Phoenix Article

Sadly not, despite dominating possession and shots, the Phoenix only registered one goal from around 45 shots. As Tony Hand mentions on the match report that, is simply not good enough! So the worry and rot continues, I must admit, this result saw me come down on the team hard. The home game against the Bison sunday looked bleak. With our current form we would get hammered? Against a tough hard working defence the Phoenix would need to sharpen up and sharpen up quick. 

Well.......the fight back has to begin somehwere......why not against the Bison? 

First Period: The Phoenix came out fighting at the start of the first period. They looked to be passing well and were pressing the Bison early on. The game took up the usual pattern when the Phoenix play the Bison (in Altrincham at least) where the home side retain much of the puck and take more of the shots but, struggle to score. The Bison were given some breakaway chances forcing Fone into some early highlight reel saves. It would be one of those breakaways that would give the Bison the lead. After soaking up some Phoenix pressure, the Bison forced the turnover, Wales found Karpov who raced free to beat Fone. Bison taking the lead at 11min 29sec. Around a minute later the Bison had the puck in the Phoenix net, only for referee Miller to washout (rightly) the goal. At this point things didn't look good for Phoenix. Bison were beginning to control the game and, the home side looked deflated. Soon after the Bison did score a good second goal to extend their lead. At 13min 45 Muzzy Wales extended the visitors advantage and, the home fans fell quiet. There were no futher goals in the first period and the wind looked to have been taken right from the Phoenix sails. A big intermission and turnaround was needed. 

Second Period: What ever coach Hand said in that locker room worked miracles. The Phoenix came out in the second period with such renewed determination and aggression. Check's were being finished, Bison players pressed as the Phoenix controlled the early stages once again. The pressure began to toll as the Bison ran into penalty trouble. With the man advantage the Phoenix PP unit went to work and, Robin Kovar got the home side on the board at 26min 53sec. Planting himself on the net, finally!!!! Kovar forced home a rebound to light the lamp. The Phoenix did it again less than 2 minutes later when, again on the PP, Frankie Bakrlik picked up the puck and unleashed a piledriver of a shot to the top corner, no stopping that one! The game levelled at 28min 25sec. The Bison managed to re-group after they returned to full strength and, with their first attack into the Phoenix zone, took the lead once more through Ciaran Long at 29min 57sec. In a franetic portion of the game the Phoenix regained parity when that 'Man from the Czech Republic' got his first goal on home ice since opening night. Michal Psurny on hand to score at 30min 46sec. The scoreline remained 3-3 throughout the remainder of the period as the buzzer sounded to bring to an end a great period of hockey. 

Third Period: As the third period began, Frankie Bakrlik took a suspicious high sticking penalty and the Phoenix went on the penalty kill. It was during the PK where Fone managed to make a save and push the puck out to Joe Graham who, sent the puck up ice to Tony Hand. Thanks to a slip by the Bison defenceman, Hand was in on Skinns on his own. With time to spare, Hand wound up and unleashed an unstoppable shot to give the Phoenix their first lead in the game. That shorthanded goal scored at 42min 17sec. This goal really lifted the Phoenix and the Bison were being put under severe pressure. The home side looked hungry, looked in control and, more importantly, looked lethal. The home side extended their lead a few minutes later when, Adam Walker was on hand to slot through Skinns 5-hole to score at 45min 50sec. The Phoenix scored two devastating goals just over a minute apart to close out the game. First, Michal Psurny scored his second of the night at 52min 10sec then, at 53min 23sec Ben Wood scored the highlight goal of the night. Pushed into forward positions due to Jacob's injury, Ben took the puck and broke inside to the hash marks, then pulled a lovely deke on Skinns to then roof the puck and send the home fans into raptures. A truly superb goal from one of the Phoenix unheralded players. With the clock winding down, the Phoenix found time for one more and, a hattrick goal for Michal Psurny. The Czech sniper was found free on goal by Tony Hand to round of a superb and much needed hatty, the final goal of the game coming at 57min 47sec. 

Verdict: A huge huge win for the Phoenix, not only in terms of the points. But for the performance and home fans too. Wins at the Ice Dome have been hard to come by in league action so far so, a win, a big win, and a win against a title rival was much needed! For me the game can be broken down quite easily: 
1st Period, Phoenix looked ok and improved over recent games. Pressing the Bison all over the ice but, did look to drop heads after the Bison took the lead. 
2nd Period, After being read the riot act the Phoenix came out determined in the second period. A bit wrecking ball the Bison were bludgeoned into submission and the Phoenix hauled themselves back into the game. 
3rd Period, Phoenix continued their efforts and, with more control (so less wrecking ball) coupled with the Bison losing their discipline, meant the Phoenix ran up the score for a deserved win. 

Attendance: A good crowd in the Dome, 1,000. 

Phoenix 8 Bison 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 8 Bison 3 - Bison Article

Phoenix TV:

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 30th October Peterborough Phantoms

Thursday night saw the Phoenix take to the ice for a league meeting with the Peterborough Phantoms, the last time these two teams met the Phoenix skated out 3-2 winners thanks to a MOM performance from James Archer. Going into the game the Phoenix were still struggling with form, especially on home ice and, were missing James Archer who was still out through injury. Thankfully Jacob Corson-Heron was out warming up and would take to the ice alleviating some of the injury worries across the Phoenix roster. 

Phantoms are sitting above the Phoenix in the league placings and are a whole different team to Phantoms teams of past season. They have much stronger depth and better goaltending. Both reasons for the great start to their league campaign. 

First Period: On a warm late October night the Ice Dome was blumin freezing! Lots of misted plexi glass and fog hanging over the ice, perfectly apt for a Halloween game! The Phantoms faced the Phoenix and the puck was dropped on a rare midweek game in Altrincham. It seemed like the midweek game and strange conditions had spooked the Phoenix as, from the off, they came out flat. There looked to be little drive from the home side, poor passing and turnovers. All of which lead to, un-surprisingly, a goal for the Phantoms. While on the powerplay the Phantoms worked the puck quickly around the zone to Bebris who slotted past Steve Fone, scoring at 1min 52sec. The goal did not spark anything in the home side as the Phoenix continued to toil and struggle. The Phantoms were comfortable defending their zone and moved with ease through centre ice into the Phoenix zone. The atmosphere was effectively killed after just 6 minutes when the Phantoms doubled their lead. Berbis getting his second at 6min 27sec. It was so strange sitting in the stands watching the Phoenix. After last sunday's excellent performance, this was a world away. Chalk and cheese, vice versa, ying/yang, many other phrases could be used! The misery was extended when Luke Ferrara got the Phantoms third at 16min 26sec. As a home fan, this was painful to watch. Just nothing has happening for the Phoenix, nothing at all. The gloom was lifted somewhat when Adam Walker was able to deflect a shot from Hand past Auzins to finally get the home side on the board. A deft little touch, it was well taken. A small chink of light in what was a dire first period! 

Second Period: After, what must have been a tense Phoenix locker room during the first interval, both teams emerged for the second period. Phoenix had a low base to improve from but still, mistakes were being made. The performance improved a little but, too many things were still off. Poor passing, poor powerplay, defensive turnovers all meant the Phoenix continued to struggle. The Phantoms, being 3-1 up just had to play the perfect road game, contain the opposition and luck to capitalist on any turnovers and breakouts. They did this perfectly and the second period ended scoreless. 

Third Period: So, one more period to go, two goals needed for the home side. Plenty of time right? There was a bit more urgency about the Phoenix play in the period but, even so, it was still a far cry from sunday night. Robin Kovar reduced the arrears to one goal early in the third period when he scored at 43min 30sec. The game became more competitive after the goal as the Phantoms looked to stiffel and resurgence from the home side. As the crowd slowly lifted following the goal the Phantoms were able to deflate them once again just past the half way mark of the period. Luke Ferrara getting his second of the game at 51min 15sec making the scores 4-2 Phantoms. With the game looking lost it was almost a surprise when the Phoenix hit back, Hand breaking up the wing, with Psurny in pursuit on the opposite wing. Hand unleashed a shot right through Auzins, lifting the Phoenix to within one again at 53min 13sec. Made all the more remarkable as it was a short handed goal too. Despite their being only one goal in the game, the Phoenix could not snap out of their poor play and, as the buzzer sounded, were consigned to another home defeat. 

Verdict: Cannot fault the result, if im brutally honest, I think the scoreline flattered us a little. Make no bones about it, the Phoenix were poor! Completely flat performance, awful static powerplay, I cannot single one player out unfortunatly. I think Fone was un-lucky to have been replaced during the first period as, the team infront were hardly helping! James Neil deserved his MOM as he, often looked our best player going forward! Bakrlik and Kovar still look to be struggling playing on the same line. Although today they did pass to each other a bit more! Psurny is still way off his form since arriving in Altrincham. Tony, well, he is still the best player this country has ever produced but, this was a terrible performance from him. Despite the goal, his passing was poor, and some decision making was baffling! Just terrible all round, if you hadn't guessed! Credit must go to Peterborough though, they played a great road game and deserved the win! 

For the Phoenix, November is now a huge huge month.Things need to change drastically, performances need to be strung together. If not, we are destined for mid-table mediocrity and a terrible title defence. We have the talent going forward and, two strong netminders, team defence is the key for me. It has to be improved massively and now! 

Attendance: A bit poor actually,, mid week games are never great, perhaps most fans knew the result already? Spooky indeed! I'll guess at around 800 in the Dome. 

Phoenix 3 Phantoms 4 - Phoenix Article

Phoenix 3 Phantoms 4 - Phantoms Article

Phoenix TV:

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