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
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