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