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.
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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.
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