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Monday, 29 December 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 21st December MK Lightning

Phoenix began last weekend with a tough away trip to the Peterborough Phantoms. Over the years the Phoenix have struggled in the hostile atmosphere in Peterborough, this year, that tough away trip is made even harder by a vastly improved Phantoms team. So much so, the Phantoms are riding high in the EPL table as one of those teams leading the charge behind the Telford Tigers. It looked to be a very close game with the game being tied after 65mins of hockey. That left the lottery of shootouts, in which the Phantoms scored the winner to take the extra point. 

Phantoms 2 Phoenix 1 APS - Phoenix Article

Taking a point from Peterborough was a good result, now the Phoenix welcomed the MK Lighting to the Ice Dome in the hope of finishing the weekend with 3 points. After a well deserved round of applause for both teams GB u21 representatives the game got underway. 

First Period: The game began and the Phoenix went off on the front foot, controlling the puck in the MK zone and cycling the puck. The early pressure told and the Phoenix took the lead before 2 minutes had been played. After Kovar and Chamberlain had dug the puck out from behind Wall's net, Kovar passed the puck to the waiting Boothroyd who rifled it past Wall. Giving the home side the lead at 1min 48sec. Despite more pressure, including the games first powerplay, Phoenix could not add to their score. MK are a dangerous team, the first line a particular standout. Blaz Emersic picked up the puck in his own zone, skated the length of the ice with no Phoenix pressure, and put a lovely deak on Ryan to level the scores, goal timed at 11min 57sec. As the period ticketed by the game began to even up and it took a freak turn of events to break the deadlock. After a big scrum in front of the MK net the puck was left free, only for Lewis Christie to put the puck in his own net. As own goals do not count, Bobby Chamberlain was credited with the goal, timed 19min 22sec. 

Second Period: Despite the score it was an even game, MK showed that when, just 50sec into the second period, Emersic scored a carbon copy of his first goal. Again, coast to coast with little disruption he levelled the score at 20min 50sec. The period settled down for the next few minutes until the turn of the period. James Archer took a penalty which brought out the Phoenix penalty kill unit. It was on the penalty kill when, the Phoenix took the lead. Graham and Thomspon had worked hard to turn over the puck and their clearance found Kovar free on the wing, who's quick turn and shot beat Wall and put the Phoenix ahead, timed at 31min 45sec. The Phoenix special teams, in this second period, would win the game as it turns out. Two goals from Adam Walker, both of which were on the powerplay in the last 6/7 minutes put the Phoenix into a commanding lead. Walker's two PP efforts timed at 34min 16sec and 38min 26sec included a lovely toe drag and deak, one really worth watching Phoenix TV for! 

Third Period: The early stages of the third period saw the Phoenix controlling the game comfortably, the stuffing seemingly knocked out of MK. Throughout the first 10 minutes a number of MK players, especially Jamieson, looked to be getting quite worked up and frustrated. In some ways that frustration helped and MK did find the net once more. That man Jamieson was the guy who got it, scoring MK's 3rd goal at 42min 53sec. Despite the goal no further makers were added and the game ended 5-3 Phoenix. 

Verdict: A real solid win for the Phoenix, MK proved a tough test but the Phoenix special teams won the game in that second period burst. A perfect treat for Christmas and a vital 3 point weekend which helps the Phoenix climb the table. 

Attendance: Slightly down on normal but, that's probably the effect of the holiday season. I will guess at 900 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 5 MK 3 - Phoenix Article

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Phoenix Rolling 7th December Bracknell Bees

The Phoenix season continued with the men from Altrincham making the simple trip down to Swindon to take on the Wildcats saturday night. The weekend would be rounded off by the Phoenix welcoming the Bracknell Bees to the Ice Dome. The Wildcats are a tricky team to play, especially on their home ice. With Lyle in goal the Wildcats are an excellent defensive team, and with Hoog no returning for the start of the season, its been Aaron Nell and import forward Tomasz Malasinski leading the way. Although in recent weeks the Wildcats have 'done a Guildford' and re-signed Jonas Hoog as their 5th import. 

Wildcats 4 Phoenix 2 - Phoenix Article
Wildcats 4 Phoenix 2 - Wildcats Article

Phoenix were still without starting netminder Steve Fone and overall the game looked to have been quite even. Phoenix lost Bakrlik to a high stick penalty and it seemed to fall a part soon after. The Wildcats running our 4-2 victors. Check out this weeks Below Average Sports Cast as im sure, Swindon correspondent Scuttsy will fill us in on the game! 

Sunday night saw the Bees come to Altrincham, currently the Bracknell Bees sit at the foot of the EPIHL table through a combination of injuries and a number of important players leaving. Current Phoenix Shaun Thompson being one of them and influential, and top point scorer, player coach Lukas Smital out through injury. When you look at their roster and poinst so far, when you loose your top scorer, the rest of the roster is not putting up great numbers. So you can see why they are where they are in the table. Ivan Antonov and Radek Hubacek the only other players in double figures so far this season. 

The game would also see the debut for Gareth O'Flaherty, in Phoenix colours for the first time this season the Phoenix have Gareth on a two-way deal with the Coventry Blaze. Not icing for the Phoenix were Bobby Chamberlain and Jack Watkins. Off we went to the Ice Dome and, despite their league placing, I think the Bees now beat Guildford in the 'fancy bus' stakes! Perhaps the budget is being spent in the wrong place? 

First Period: In front of a big crowd, swelled by Groupon first timers, the teams took to the ice for the first puck drop. From the first whistle the Phoenix controlled the game and were on top. The home side would put up an impressive 23 shots in the first period alone. Despite sporading attacks by the Bees, it was no surprise when the home side took the lead. A Frankie Bakrlik shot was tipped infront of Mettam by Archer to give the Phoenix the lead at 4min 44sec on the powerplay. Archer has found himself a role sat in front of the net, especially on powerplays and, a good few of his recent goals have come this way. Phoenix continued to attach the Bees and a second goal came with just 12sec left on the clock. Again on the powerplay the Phoenix worked the puck around the boards back to Bakrlik on the point. With time to wind up, Bakrlik unleashed one of his monster slapshots which went through Mettam and into the net. Mettam got a glove hand to it but, the sheer power carried the puck into the net. 

Second Period: After going behind the Bees re-grouped and came out with a bit more effort in the second period. Getting a few more chances the Bees found Ryan in good form in the Phoenix net. With the Phoenix controlling possession it would be possible to catch Ryan cold but, the Phoenix netminder was up to the task. The next goal came for the home side at the half hour mark when Frankie Bakrlik got his second of the night at 29min 59sec from Neal and Kovar, Robin would get his reward for some hard work by getting on the score sheet himself with a goal, time at 36min 28sec, Bakrlik and Thompson with the helpers. The rest of the period settled down as the game looked to be out of Bracknell's reach at this point. 

Third Period: Phoenix began the third period in control and increased the margin when Kovar scored a very neat back post goal, his second of the night at 43min 28sec. As the period wore on the Phoenix were still creating chances and it was #Bootherscoringmachine would would increase the lead to 6 at 51min 59sec. Taking the puck in from the corner Boothroyd roofed the puck over Mettam for a superb solo goal. The game was killed off just 29 seconds later when Sir Toe Knee of Hand fired in the Phoenix 7th of the night at 52min 28sec. 

Verdict: With a big crowd in full of newbies it was important for the Phoenix to get the win. With a poor Bees side in opposition they did just that, an important two points, especially after loosing in Swindon the night before. Not a pretty win by any means but, the scoreline and some of the hits will impress the newbies, the rest of us knowing the result was more important. Difficult to see any other position than 9th for the Bees this season. Not much going on for them, with Smital off the ice. More surprising for me was seeing Towalski on the ice for the Bees, and being kept quiet. Towalski is a top top player, someone i'd love to see in Phoenix colours. 

Attendance: Big crowd in the Ice Dome, i'll gues at 1,850 

Phoenix 7 Bees 0 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 7 Bees 0 - Bees Article

Phoenix TV:

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Phoenix Rolling - 23rd November MK Lightning

As we near the end of November and, Christmas is peeking round the corner, the EPL season continues its relentless march. The weekend just gone saw the Phoenix make a return trip the face the Guildford Flames, before welcoming the MK Lightning to the Ice Dome for the first time this season. The Phoenix went south with the recent win against the Flames in their mind. Facing a tough test on the big Spectrum ice the Phoenix played well, by all accounts. But for a refereeing decision to turn the game. Despite a late come back by the Phoenix, the Manchester men fell short 4-3 as the Flames avenged their loss up in Altrincham the previous weekend. 

Flames 4 Phoenix 3 - Phoenix Article
Flames 4 Phoenix 3 - Flames Article

Sunday saw the visit of the MK Lightning, a team the Phoenix have always enjoyed playing and, on of the teams I look forward to seeing on Altrincham ice. The two sides have met only once before this season, down in Coventry before the refurbished Thunderdome had opened. That result saw the Phoenix fortunes on Coventry ice continue as they skated away with a 4-1 victory. Tonight would be different, MK now in their new home, and back to regular practicing would be a different proposition. 

First Period: The Phoenix opened the period on the front foot, pushing MK back into their zone and laying numerous pucks on Stephen Wall. Even so the Phoenix were struggling to create clear chances and, Wall was living up to his name. A quality keeper keeping the Phoenix at bay! MK soaked up the early pressure and took the lead just after the 6 minute mark. Lewis Hook pouncing on the puck and slotting past Fone to give the visitors the lead. About a minute later the Phoenix suffered a huge blow when, after a melee on the net a player appears to fall onto Fone's leg. After the bodies cleared Fone was left on his back and in pain, he had to be helped from the ice and Declan Ryan thrust into action. Ryan, and the Phoenix, did well to weather the initial storm from the Lightning as they sought to test out the Phoenix back-up netminder. Phoenix scored the next goal at 14min 59sec when Jack Watkins capped off a great third line move. After great work by Corson-Heron, Jack re-directed the puck through Wall to get the home side on the board. With neither team seizing the advantage no further goals came in the first period. 

Second Period: The second period summed up the game so far. A poor poor period with little hockey at all. The Phoenix were struggling to reach the levels seen previously against the Bison and Flames. MK not offering up much either, I was a little disappointed in them but, pleased that they seemed unable to click and take the game from the Phoenix. It is no surprise then, that no goals were scored in the second period. 

Third Period: Into the third period and the quality of hockey on show certainly did not improve. It was MK who edged out in front when Leigh Jamieson scored from infront of Ryan, giving MK the lead at 45min 34sec. The Phoenix set about rescuing the game and continued to pile on the pressure on Wall. Wall was putting up a great fight turning away everything until the period moved into its final stages. Robin Kovar levelling the game at 54min 02sec to much relief around the stands. In the last 5 minutes neither team could force the winner, so the game went to OT! 

Overtime/PS: The extra 5 minutes saw neither side score so, the game went to penalty shots. The first shootout in, what felt like, ages at the Ice Dome. Wall and Ryan would do battle. Some good attempts were made, some poor ones too! In the end it was Tony Hand who scored the decider, after almost losing control of the puck, the great one deceived Wall to hand Phoenix the advantage. Jamieson had to score, Ryan stood tall himself and denied him to hand the Phoenix the win. 

Verdict: Overall great to get the win, especially after losing Fone so early. But thats the beuty of having two strong goalies. You don't have the usual worry of a back up going in! Ryan had a very good game, shame the team in front didn't! Not a classic by any means, with both sides struggling to take the initiative. I hope the Phoenix return to better form soon! The Phoenix continue to outshoot opponents, putting 57 shots on Wall, while Ryan faced 31 shots. It seems accuracy is out main issue now! 

Attendance: An ok crowd at the Ice Dome, i'll guess at 1,000 in! 

Phoenix 3 MK 2 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 3 MK 2 - Lightning Article
Phoenix 3 MK 2 - Bolton News

Phoenix TV: