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