The Angry Budgie Live

Monday, 14 December 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Bracknell Bees 12/14/15

Last weekend was a huge one for the Phoenix, after news crept out about the withdrawal of Red Hockey support the Phoenix now face the possibility of not being able to finish the 15/16 EPL season. Saturday night saw the first leg of the 'War of the Roses' against the Sheffield Steeldogs, a game which was proceeded by a fan forum with Phoenix owner Neil Morris. There has already been coverage of the main points that came from that meeting via twitter/various forums so I won't go into detail. Other than to say, in essence, the Phoenix need £90k to finish the season! The impression I got from the meeting was, if the Phoenix can make it to the end of the season, the future is bright, very bright! 

There are, of course, many fund raising efforts on the go, below I have a summary of what is ongoing and what is to come: 

Phoenix Supporters Trust 
Phoenix Podcast - Ben's Christmas Jumper

Phoenix Podcast - Chris Chirstmas Pants
@Oobze PTID Kickstarter

After all that, there were a few games played! The first leg of the War of the Roses saw both teams playing back up netminders, meaning Phoenix fans got to see Phil Spanswick in action for the first time. The game ended 5-4 to Sheffield which, I will admit, was disappointing. The Phoenix dominated the first two periods but, ran out of steam in the third and Sheffield deservedly worked their way back into the game. Bright spots for the Phoenix were Spanswick having a solid game in goal and, Jacob Corson-Heron dropping the gloves and owning his bought of fisticuffs. 

Onto Sunday and a vitally important game versus the Bracknell Bees. If the Phoenix have any hope of extending their season its games like these they need to win. 

First Period: Despite all the off-ice troubles the Phoenix hit the ice focussed and took the game to the Bees from the first puck drop. Rotating two lines (as that's all they could) the Phoenix kept the shifts short. Bees slowly to give as good as they got and the game settled into end to end hockey. Not the highest of quality but entertaining none the less. The first goal came on the powerplay to the home team. With Matt Foord sitting a 2 minute minor for slashing the Phoenix went on the PP. After cycling the puck, Ben Wood did well to keep it within the offensive zone, he wound up a shot on goal and, via a slight deflection from Robin Kovar the Phoenix took the lead. Goal timed at 11min 36sec. 

Second Period: After their heroics in Swindon the night before, a one goal lead would not do for the Phoenix. The second began and was only 2min old when the Bees pulled level. A piece of excellent play saw Smital thread a pass out from behind Fone to Kostourek in front to fire home via the post. The game levelling goal coming at 22min 13sec. The game continued with neither side able to control for long periods. Fone pulled off a fantastic save from James Galazzi and Mettam responded to deny an awesome attempt from JCH. The Phoenix were then denied two 2-on-1 opportunities towards the end of the period as both teams went in 1-1. 

Third Period: With it all to play for in the third the Phoenix, surprisingly, did not look too tired and really took the game to Bracknell. After Mettam had pulled off a great save to deny Trent Hope, the Phoenix did  score their second goal. James Archer led the puck into the Bees zone and played a drop pass to Kovar who blasted home from the hash marks to give Phoenix the lead at 43min 25sec. Despite taking the lead the Phoenix continued to pile the pressure on Mettam only for the ninja goalie to deny them. Phoenix were, thankfully, able to closeout the period and the game, despite some 'intresting' calls from Perring in the final 5 minutes. 

Verdict: After all the hoo haa off the ice it was so nice to get down to playing some Ice Hockey. Despite the ridiculously short bench the team on the ice played like a 4 line team! They matched the Bees shift for shift and ground out a superb win, a deserved one too! It was so pleasing to see the players come off the ice with a smile on their face and, the victory wave, which has been absent from the WMMP for a while!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Basingstoke Bison 06/12/15

Last night saw a hockey game at the West Manchester Municipal Pool.....other than that......absolutely nothing else happened in the world of Phoenix this past couple of weeks.....nope......nothing! 

Ok, so stuff did happen, im not going to go into it on these pages suffice to say, the only place to hear anything close to 100% accurate will be the latest edition of the Phoenix Podcast. On which Neil Morris gave a frank account of all the goings on with Wayne Scholes and Red Hockey. Tambo will also be conducting an interview with WS this week, which will also appear on the podcast. Either added to next weeks show or put up as a stand along episode. There is also a fan forum in Telford Wednesday night which should also offer up more facts, though that will be entirely Telford Tigers focussed. I urge you all, Phoenix fans or not, please don't go on the forums and engage in the endless speculation that has already appeared. Listen to the interviews and make your own minds up! 

Having said all that, the facts are, the Phoenix are in need of funds to help finish the season. Get your thinking caps on, the club will like to hear any good ideas for fund raising. Buy 50/50 tickets, buy shirt raffle tickets, buy merchandise, they are some of the obvious ways to help a club raise funds. Mike Newton (@oobze on twitter)  famous for the 'Sons of Storm' kickstarter campaign and associated merchandise is starting up another Kickstarter campaign for the Phoenix under the #PTID moniker. Keep an eye on his twitter for updates, I (@theangrybudgie) will retweet anything I see to spread the word! 

Housekeeping done? Check! Onto sunday nights hockey! 

High flying Basingstoke Bison came to Deeside boasting a rather impressive roster. Recently bolstered by the arrival of Rene Jarolin and Jon Baston on injury cover. Despite the different league placing, no game on saturday meant the Phoenix were as fresh as they could be. 

First Period: The game began with some great end to end hockey, both Fone and Baston were called into action early and both able to turn away the opening exchanges. Both sides saw their PP units out onto the ice but could not convert. With play being even through the opening minutes the Bison stunned the home crowd by opening up a 2 goal lead either side of the halfway point in the period. Aaron Connolly got the visitors off the mark at 8min 03sec then, former Phoenix man, Shaun Thompson doubled their lead at 12min 34sec. The Phoenix worked back into the game and began to shade play a little, with Michal Satek being denied by the excellent Baston. 

Second Period: Like the first period, the opening minutes were a little hectic for the Phoenix. Some mad max style defence thwarted the Bison then, after those opening skirmishes the home side settled and came into the game. End to end action once more and, like the first, it was the Bison who would light the lamp first. Tomas Karpov slaloming up the ice and unleashing a pin point shot to Fone's top right corner. Unstoppable arguments here! The Bison 3rd timed at 33min 22sec. Like the first period, the Phoenix worked their way back into the game and, were finally rewarded less than a minute later. Michal Satek finding a gap in Baston's defences off a pass from Kovar timed at 34min 04sec. The Phoenix advance was halted when Trent Hope picked up a slashing penalty giving the Bison the advantage. After some superb play by the Bison Rene Jarolin scored what felt like the game winning goal, the Bison's 4th at 38min 34sec. 

Third Period: No goals were scored in the third period but, the Phoenix put their all into finding a way back. Edging the play during the final 20mins the Phoenix began to set up camp in the Bison goal. Excellent chances fell to Kovar and James Neil but, as he had been doing all game and against the Phoenix when playing for Hull, Baston shut the door and closed out the game. 

Verdict: After a tumultuous week the Phoenix hit the ice and put in a very good performance against an excellent Bison side. A 4-1 loss is still a loss but, given the Bison had hammered Telford 7-0 the night before, 4-1 is a good result. One thing that is sure, this team will give its all week in week out, no matter what is going on off the ice. Just wish the scoreboard would reflect that effort a bit more!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Peterborough Phantoms 22/11/15

The weather turned this past weekend, the cold winds were blowing in, the first weekend of proper hockey weather. That meaning those mad few of us would, in the freezing wind, go and sit inside an ice rink for a few hours of a sunday evening. Sunday in the West Manchester Municipal Pool saw the Phoenix host the Peterborough Phantoms a game which, personally speaking, I would be delighted if the Phoenix managed to get a point from! Just being realistic! The Phantoms have a better/deeper squad and, possibly, have been the best team I have seen against the Phoenix so far this season! 

Saturday the Phoenix made the trip, once again, down to Swidon for what seems like the umpteenth time in a couple of weeks! Traditionally not a place the Phoenix have done well in so again, a point would be nice. Early signs were not good when the Wildcats raced to a 4-1 lead by the end of the second. But, credit the Phoenix they worked hard and, with less than a minute to go, made it 4-3. While still a loss, it was a great (almost)comeback and one which made the scoreline look a little more respectable. 

First Period: In some long awaited good news the Phoenix started the game with Gareth O'Flaherty back on the ice, the extra skater really making a difference as the Phoenix came out the traps quickly. Despite the Phantoms superior strength and depth it was the Phoenix who created the first chance, when Kovar was denied by Auzins. The Phantoms were then handed 1min 50sec of 5 on 3 when Mark Thomas, then Luke Boothroyd were sent to the penalty box in quick succession. 5-on-3 against the Phantoms, it would only be a matter of time before the breakthrough was made? In the end the Phoenix defended the short handed period perfectly, denying the Phantoms. Michal Satek standing out on the point of the triangle not giving the 'quarterback's on the blue line a chance to shoot. That gave the Phoenix some excellent momentum, they had their own PP a few minutes later, with Will Weldon in the box on a hooking call the Phoenix set up in the Phantoms zone. Cycling the puck round, Nico Aaltonen found Ben Wood free in front of goal who cooly slotted past Auzins for the games first goal, time at 9min 53sec. Into the second half of the period and the Phantoms began to get going. A quickfire double silenced the home crowd, Milan Baranyk and Ales Padalek giving the visitors the lead with goals at 12min 05sec and 12min 26sec. The first a poor rebound given up by Fone, all the Phoenix D being tied up giving Baranyk oodles of time to round Fone, wait for him to commit, then slot into the empty net. The second goal a long shot from the point which saw the faintest of deflections to deceive Fone. The news from the first period did not get any better when Stan Gron had an awkward collision with Martins Susters which saw Gron remain on the bench with an ice pack to the jaw....he did not return to the game. 

Second Period: There was little goalmouth action in the second period until the very end. Both teams traded chances and, except for the first 5 mins, the Phoenix more than held their own and even dominated for large stretches. It was in the dying moments the Phantoms were able to break up a Phoenix attack, break up ice and score a well worked goal. However, it was immediately washed out for goalie interference, to be fair to Matthews, he was well placed and washed the goal out straight away. Decisive at least! 

Third Period: 20min to go, the Phoenix more than equal, would the home side get a reward for this rather than come up short? They battled hard in the third and again, the difference in roster was not apparent. With Gron off the ice the Phoenix rotated the top line to include all 3 import forwards at a time with Ben Wood, giving some added size and speed. The hard work was rewarded as the period moved into its second half. After Kovar had circled the zone and put in a shot, Nico Aaltonen was on hand to score the rebound with a deft back hand over Auzins. With some of the rebounds Auzins had been giving up it was about time the Phoenix got in there to mop up! Neither side was able to score the winner so, to OT we go! 

Overtime: Overtime began with the Phantoms controlling possession but being unable to camp out in the Phoenix zone. Fone made some excellent saves as the Phoenix pressured to create a turnover. When it came, Michal Satek was released up the boards, with pace to burn he rounded the Phantoms D and, with Auzins committing to the poke check early, was able to flick the puck over and into the net, giving the Phoenix their first OT win in ages! 

Verdict: It feels like I have had to write about good Phoenix performances not getting the deserved result. How refreshing to report that, the good performance was rewarded with a W! The Phoenix more than competed and deserved the win against a very good Phantoms side. The Phantoms are very quick, very slick with the passing and well drilled. Auzins looked a little shakier in the game compared to previous games and the Phoenix took advantage. I thought Auzins 'telegraphed' his poke check in OT, which is not meant to take away from Satek's finish, it truly did deserve to be the game winner!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Swindon Wildcats 15/11/15

Hoping to build on the 4 point weekend previously the Phoenix had a trip across the Pennines to take on the Sheffield Steeldogs, before heading back home to host the Swindon Wildcats. The Phoenix had to take on the Steeldogs without Gareth O'Flaherty who was suffering with a little concussion he took in the game against the Telford Tigers the previous week. During the game Robin Kovar also picked up an injury so the Phoenix would be two players down for the visit of the Cats. After a quick call, and with kind permission from the Blackburn Hawks, the Phoenix would welcome an old friend back to the roster for one night only. Richie Bentham would, once again, don the Phoenix colours. 

A large and boisterous crowd filled the West Manchester Municipal Pool for the second encounter, in the league, between the Phoenix and the Cats. Tom Perring wore the arm bands and, after a playing of La Marseillaise the puck was dropped. 

First Period: It had all the potential for another epic game between the two sides but, it would be tough for the Phoenix. Swindon had the advantage of a much deeper roster, the Phoenix bench shortened by injury. Things did not get off on the right foot for Phoenix fans, within the first 3 minutes the visitors had taken the lead. After excellent passing from McEwan and Taylor, Sam Bullas lit the lamp for the first goal of the game, timed at 2min 23sec. Phoenix re-grouped and started to get back into the game. Breakaway chances fell to Gron and Archer who were both denied by Stevie Lyle. The Phoenix would finally get some reward when Stan Gron broke up a Swindon play in the Phoenix zone and found Satek mid ice. Michal raced up ice and, after pulling an awesome move on Lyle roofed the puck to bring the home side level. His goal timed at 9min 15sec. The period progressed and Richie Bentham began to show what the Phoenix fans were missing. His play bringing some physicality and chippieness to the Phoenix which has been sorely missed. Carlo Finucci took a two minute slashing penalty which put the Phoenx in the powerplay. The Phoenix put immense pressure on the Wildcat net but could not find a way past Lyle, after a break down in play Kostal was able to pick out Hoog who raced clear and slotted home a superb short handed effort, giving the Cats the lead at 16min 56sec. The period would end with the Cats holding the advantage, shots were 12 a piece. 

Second Period: In what was turning out to be a fantastic game of hockey to watch, the second period progressed much like the first! Both teams were creating chances but, finding the opposition net minder equal to the shots. The Phoenix had a brief few chances when Jan Kostal then Adam Harding went to the box for hooking and cross checking penalties respectively. The Phoenix were unable to break through and the period ended with the score still, 2-1 Swindon. 

Third Period: One more period and one goal is doable for the Phoenix, Swindon however were not reading that script! At 47min 37sec Aaron Nell scored his first of the game to give the visitors a 3-1 lead, thus silencing the lively home support. That silence did not last long, when a superb solo effort from Stan Gron reduced the deficit when he scored at 47min 52sec. Phoenix ramped up the pressure, but Stevie Lyle, showing all his experience kept them at bay, even with some unorthodox saves! With time ticking down the Phoenix pulled Fone for the extra attacker and, rarely, it worked. Ritchie Bentham as if it was meant to be, scored with 20sec to go to force overtime. Needless to say....they are still searching for the roof of the building! 

Overtime: Into 3-on3 action we go. Both sides saw chances early on, the highlight for the Phoenix was Mark Thomas coming close forcing Lyle into an unbelievable stop....worth watching Phoenix TV for that one! With time running down it seemed penalty shots were inevitable but, the hockey gods would deal the Phoenix a cruel hand. With just 2.5sec left on the clock, Nell found himself in some space, with the puck and he made no mistake. Taking the shot and taking the win, plus the extra point, down the M5 to Swindon! 

Verdict: A real shame for the Phoenix to lose the game with 2.5 to go but, it was a fantastic game overall. Swindon and Manchester are two evenly matched teams and each game between the two, so far, have been fantastic, at least the games I have seen in Deeside! Given the Phoenix recent run of results and form, the past two weekends have seen a real upturn in performance. Thats what makes me not too bothered to have lost sunday night, the performance was there! Could it have been a different story with O'Flaherty and Kovar on the ice? Maybe? I sure hope Neil Morris and Tony Hand can find some budget to have Bentham back, he played very well, got a goal plus a 10min penalty. Phoenix could do with some of that energy!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Telford Tigers 08/11/15

Its been a tough October, a record of 2 wins and 7 losses meant the Phoenix had slipped down the table and the fans were...a little half empty! The run of results did coincide with the loss of Stan Gron and Mark Thomas to injury for the most part, the short bench made even shorter. Add in a little bad luck and games were being lost on the odd bad bounce, a call not going their way and a bit of frustration. November arrived, Gron and Thomas came back from injury and results began to improve. First an OT loss to MK brought a point then, saturday saw the Phoenix travel along the M62 to take a superb 6-1 win from the Hull Pirates. 

This all set up the visit of the Telford Tigers to the West Manchester Municipal swimming pool.....sorry Deeside. The Red Hockey brothers would also help to christen, at least in the EPL, the new plexi glass having been installed at the rink. Sadly trading away the EPL's highest assist machine.....the netting! Given the results during October, most Phoenix fans were not predicting a good result for the short benched Phoenix against the 4 lines of Telford but, you can only have 6 players on the ice at a time, you never know! 

Hard work, determination and concentration would be needed for the full 60 minutes! 

First Period: The puck dropped and, with a roar of noise from the stands the game got underway. The game was played at a high pace both Steve Fone and Sam Gospel had to be in top form from the first second. Both teams putting the pressure on, Gospel coming up big to deny Trent Hope and Jacob Corson-Heron it quick succession. The visiting Tigers began to exert some control on the game and their slick passing and well drilled moves came to the fore. It was impressive to watch just how quick they could break up Phoenix play in their own zone, then transition up ice into the Phoenix zone in about 3 passes! Stretching the Phoenix legs, already looking daunting for the rest of the game. We had to wait until the final two minutes for the games first goal, with Stan Gron in the penalty box on a hooking call the Tigers PP unit took to the ice. After seeing the Phoenix draw a black on two earlier PP opportunities it was frustrating to see the Tigers score about 30sec into their first advantage. Weaver scoring a peach of a shot from the blue line at 18min 14sec, assists going to Silverthorn and Szabo. The buzzer went with the visitors ahead and, perhaps, the Phoenix a little hard done by in terms of the scoreboard! 

Second Period: The second session usually signals a little wobble from the Phoenix but, we couldn't have been more wrong! The home side came out the traps flying, pressing Telford high and disrupting their play. It was a marked difference to the first period, the Phoenix were hounding and harrying and the Tigers play began to breakup and become a little sloppy. Approaching the halfway point and the game really burst to life. With the Phoenix pressing Gospel's goal, Luke Boothroyd put a clever shot in on Gospel, who gave up a rebound and much hell broke lose in the crease. After a few attempts Nico Aaltonen was free on the back post as the puck bounced through to him, Nico scoring the game levelling goal at 27min 23sec and the crowd erupted. A well deserved goal lifted the rink and, that joy was doubled less than a minute later when the Phoenix scored again. Almost a carbon copy when, Luke again with a shot from the point, Gospel again giving up the rebound, this time it was Michal Satek who was on hand and un marked to give the Phoenix the lead. The Phoenix second goal timed at 28min 17sec. Both sides were really up for the game as Gron had another good opportunity for the home side while, Silverthorn was denied by the pipework for the visitors. 

Third Period: The final session proved to be a barn stormer, Phoenix deservedly ahead while the Tigers still had one of (if not the) most talented roster in the league. The hockey gods obviously decided to make that W hard to get for the Phoenix. The home side totting up a total of 16 penalty minutes to Telford's 0. That meant putting the lethal Tigers on the PP. Despite many people's fears (mine included) the Phoenix stood tall, worked hard and denied the Tigers on their PP opportunities. Especially as the Phoenix picked up one 2 minute penalty at 55min and then another at 58min meaning they would be short handed to the buzzer to claim the win. Tigers were 5 on 4, then for the last 100sec they were 6 on 4 with the empty net. Phoenix held their shape well in their own zone, Fone stood tall, the fans made the noise and, but for two inches the wrong way, Kovar could have had the empty netter to top off the win. It hit the post but it didn't matter, Phoenix held on for a superb win on home ice. 

Verdict: Against MK a few weeks ago I though the Phoenix deserved the W but got the OT loss, last night, Phoenix deserved the W and got it! Tigers still have the better roster on paper but, on the ice, they only showed it for 20mins at most. The Phoenix competed and bettered the Tigers for the majority of the game and got the win to show for it. The Phoenix has been down and battered for recent Phoenix is rising once again!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Phoenix Rolling - MK Lightning 02/11/15

Phoenix returned to their West Manchester ice after an enforced break due to an ice plant failure and welcomed the MK Lightning. Going into the weekend the Phoenix had been in, fluctuating form, at best! Without a win on home ice in 4/5 weeks the Phoenix would take confidence from the win against MK on home ice against the Lightning earlier in the season. 

Saturday night saw the Phoenix take the drive down to the Basingstoke arena to take on the high flying Bison. The game was evenly matched for 40 minutes until the Phoenix seemingly tired in the third period and the Bison rattled off 3 unanswered goals to take the game 4-1. 

After heading down the M56 once again it was time to take on the Lightning, who brought a good travelling support with them. The MK Lightning, coached by Pete Russell, have an abundance of offensive talent and, arguably, a little light on defence.....think Swindon and your pretty much there. Emersic still leading the lines and, still a player I have admired and wanted on my team. The game also saw Bobby Chamberlain and Jack Watkins take on the Phoenix once again. The game would also see the welcome return, to home ice, of Mark Thomas. A player the Phoenix have missed since his foot injury a few weeks ago. Mark brings great experience and size to the Phoenix blue line and a little relief for the Phoenix D corps. 

First Period: It was a steady start to the game, both teams working very hard and shutting down any clear chances quickly. Fone was in top form and Jordan Marr, in the MK net, while looking a little shaky at times, were still turning aside any shot on goal. MK did have the edge on the scoring opportunities though with the Phoenix hemmed in their own zone for large parts of the period. The period ended without a goal being scored. 

Second Period: Well, the second period burst into life, 3 goals and two controversial penalty shots. It all started just after the half way point in the game. With the Phoenix third line on the ice pressuring MK back into their own zone, a shot by Corson-Heron was given up for a juicy rebound by Marr for Ben Wood to blast home and open the scoring, the first goal coming at 32min 32sec. The lead did not last long when Lewis Hook received a beut of a pass up centre ice from Michael Farn, with clear ice behind him Hook approached Fone, deaked him and slid the puck through the open 5-hole at 33min 51sec. Parity didnt last long again as the Phoenix re-took the lead 16sec later. Robin Kovar on hand to slot home a rebound from an Archer shot, 2-1 timed at 34min 07sec. The action continued as the Phoenix looked to extend their lead, after a goal mouth scramble a Lightning player closed his hand over the puck in the crease giving the Phoenix a penalty shot. It would be down to Luke Boothroyd to take the shot. After pulling a neat move on Marr, Boothroyd just couldn't lift the puck over Marr's pads and was denied. Minutes later MK were gifted an opportunity to level the game, Bobby Chamberlain being given a rather fortunate penalty shot of his own. Tinted spec's aside, it really was the wrong call by the ref! Either way, justice was done and Chamberlain was denied by Fone. 

Third Period: The third period followed a similar ish pattern to the second, not much happening in the first half, only for the game to spring to life in the second half. The Phoenix went on the powerplay, with Bobby Chamberlain in the box on a 2+10 misconduct penalty. Phoenix extender their lead at 54min 05sec when Stan Gron scored off an assist by Robin Kovar. The potent MK offence reduced the deifict soon after when Blaz Emersic scored at 55min 15sec. Into the last two minutes, MK pulled Jordan Marr for the extra skater and Marko Luomala levelled the game with a deflected shot with just 90sec to go. 

Overtime: Overtime saw both teams create chances, Phoenix having the slight edge. It would be MK who would score the winner, as OT approached its end and the dreaded penalty shots loomed, Leigh Jamieson was found clear infront of the net by Jordan Cownie to score the winner with just 52sec left in the extra period. 

Verdict: A real tough loss to take and, you could see the pain on the Phoenix players as they left the ice. A game in which they dominated for the most part, somehow they ended up losing the game. It was genuinely a result in which the Phoenix can feel hard done by. On top for the majority but it is MK who take the win. The point gained from an OT loss feels much more like a loss than a point gained. Credit to MK though, they took their chances, forced their way back into the game at the end of the third and, took the golden chance in OT. That's how hockey goes some times!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Swindon WIldcats 18/10/15

Here we are again, the day after the weekend before, another pair of games ticked off on the EPL calendar. The Manchester Phoenix had games away to the Guildford Flames saturday night before taking on the Swindon Wildcats sunday night in West Manchester. Another tough weekend of EPL hockey, what weekends aren't? A weekend the Phoenix would look to snap a run of losses and get back to winning ways. 

Saturday night in Guildford saw a tight game between to good hockey sides on the big spectrum ice. Phoenix took the lead early on but the Flames powered back to take a 2 goal lead early in the third period. A maiden goal for Trent Hope and then another score for Robin Kovar would force OT and then the game was to be decided on penalty shots. Tom Duggan would score the decisive shot for the home team and secure the extra point. Phoenix will be disappointed to lose the game on PS but, a point won in Guildford is not to be sniffed at, more importantly the performance was one to give the Phoenix boys a much needed confidence boost. 

Sunday and the visit of the Wildcats would be another entertaining game. The Phoenix were without any players guesting from the Deeside Dragons and, this would be the first we got to see of Wildcats new import forward Carlo Finucci. 

First Period: Phoenix came flying out the blocks after the puck drop and took the game to Swindon. A high pressing forecheck gave the Wildcats little comfort on the puck and Lyle was never given a chance to settle. Looking a little unsure of himself the Phoenix took their shots trying to force the games opening goal. That goal would come before the 5 min mark when Michael Satek took a short angle shot and banked the puck into the net off Stevie Lyle, timed at 4min 50sec. The pressure continued and the home side doubled their lead at 7min 05sec when Stan Gron tipped a Ben Wood shot for the games second goal. The Phoenix continued to pile on the pressure and Stevie Lyle called a time out to regroup the troops. As the period entered its second half the Wildcats began to regain some composure and force their own chances. It was on a break up the ice Luke Boothroyd took a needful slashing penalty to stop an opportunity. On the resulting powerplay the Wildcats would make that decision pay. Carlo Finucci got his first of the game at 11min 42sec to halve the deficit. Swindon began to tip the pressure in the their favour after the goal and that pressure would pay. At 18min 06sec Finucci scored once again to send the teams in at the break level at 2 each. 

Second Period: The interval helped the Phoenix who looked like their old selves at the beginning of the second period. Taking the play to the Wildcats with pace, the Phoenix set up in the Cats zone early. After some neat work by Kovar and Satek, James Archer was found on the hash marks who blasted a shot past Lyle. So forceful that Lyle, and most of the players on the ice never saw it. The go ahead goal scored at 31min 35sec. The Phoenix continued to hold on to the play and dominate possession so, at the second interval, the home side lead 3-2. 

Third Period: A Swindon fightback was expected and is what we got. Jan Kostal got the chances underway when an excellent shot beat Fone but not the pipework. Then Stan Gron was denied by a great save on a break away. The game really began to open up as the play switched from end to end. With Ben Wood off the ice on a questionable interference call the Cats went back on the powerplay. Much like their earlier effort they made the Phoenix pay. Tomasz Malasinski tied up the game once again with a superb snipe on the back post when he was found all alone, assists going to Harding and Ryhanen. At this point the period wore on and looked to be heading for OT but, Stan Gron would not agree and nab his second goal as the game entered it's last 5 minutes. After rounding the net he scored a beaut of a goal at 56min 45sec. The Phoenix needed to dig deep now and see out the game in face of some big Swindon pressure. Into the last couple of minutes Stevie Lyle went to the bench for the extra skater but the Wildcats could not set up properly in the Phoenix zone. After a turn over Aaltonen fed Stan Gron who raced up the left win and scored an easy empty netter, sealing his hattrick at 59min 43sec. 

Verdict: After picking up a superb point the previous night this win underlined a fantastic weekend for the Phoenix and a real shot in the arm for form and confidence. For the most part they were able to deal with that excellent Wildcats top line and, a welcome return to form for Gron meant the Phoenix were good value for the win.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Hull Pirates 11/10/15

After saturday nights loss to the Peterborough Phantoms the Phoenix would look to sunday nights visit of the Hull Pirates to get a win and avoid a pointless weekend. The Pirates, the EPL's basement side, came into Deeside with improving form and running more clubs close for results. In Baston the Pirates have unearthed a real gem in goal, the import goalie has, by all accounts, been standing on his head to give Hull chances to get results. 

Once again the Phoenix would be without Mark Thomas who was still sidelined by injury. 

First Period: The game opened with the Phoenix immediately taking possession of the puck and forcing the early chances, Baston having to be alert right from the off. The Phoenix controlled the game while the Pirates were happy to be defending their own zone and allowing the Phoenix chances from the perimeter. The Phoenix did manage to break the deadlock early in the period, at 6min 49sec, Deeside Dragons loanee Simon Furnival deflected a shot from James Neil which deceived Baston to put the Phoenix ahead. The pressure from the Phoenix was relentless and Baston had to come up big once again with chances falling to Gron and Archer as the home side looked to extend their lead. 

Second Period: The Pirates made a strong start in the second period and equilised within the first minute of the period. After gaining the zone and some sloppy play from the Phoenix. The home side could not halt the run from the Pirates and, despite 3 or 4 opportunities to do so could not clear the puck. The initial shot was saved by Fone but, Tommi Laine was on hand to slot home the rebound at 20min 29sec to level the game. This was almost the only attacking the Pirates did in the period as the Phoenix laid seige to Baston's goal. Despite all the pressure and shots, including Robin Kovar striking the post the Phoenix could not find a way through and the period ended with the scores level. 

Third Period: If you ignore the goal the third period was a carbon copy of the second, the Phoenix with all the chances and the visitors resigned to soaking up the pressure and hoping Baston stood tall. Most of the Phoenix pressure was only resulting in long shots and shots to the logo on Baston, shots he will save all day every day. The best opportunity for a winner came from Michal Satek on the breakaway who was denied, Fone had to be alert to to deny Sam Towner late in the period. 

Overtime: The first appearance of overtime in Deeside this season. With Baston on the ice the Pirates had to ice three British forwards at a time where the Phoenix could cycle through their imports. The Pirates defended admirably in OT, Phoenix controlling the puck but  the Pirates managing to keep all the play to the outside of the zone. Then, in almost a perfect irony, with their only attack of the OT period the Pirates forced a turnover in the Phoenix zone and Warren Tait took advantage to score the winner, the Pirates players celebrating wildly after getting their first win of the season. 

Verdict: This may seem harsh on the Pirates but, this was a poor poor loss for the Phoenix. The amount of pressure they had was ridiculous at times, Hull did not do much as an attacking force for the entirety of the game but yet won it. It may seem very rose tinted of me but honestly it is true. The Pirates play at times was a little disjointed and passes were not great and they relay unbelievably heavily on Baston but, Baston, what a performance and what a player. Despite all I have just said, the Phoenix just could not answer Baston, he really kept Hull in the game and gave them a chance of getting the win. For the Phoenix, it will be immense disappointment that, despite all the pressure and shots, they could only score one goal.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Peterborough Phantoms 10/10/15

Coming off a midweek loss to current EPL leaders the MK Lightning midweek the Phoenix looked to get back on track with a double home weekend against the Phantoms and the Hull Pirates. The Phantoms, lead by last years deserved EPL coach of the year Slava Koulikov, were one of the hardest working EPL sides last year, well drilled and hard to break down. Janis Ozins in goal one of the standout performers of the 2014/15 season....depending on his mood! 

The game also saw the return of Stan Gron to the Phoenix roster, a welcome addition to the Phoenix lines and an opportune boost to the attacking options on the ice. Of course it mean saying good bye to Jan Platil who came to the Phoenix after being released by the Hull Pirates. Platil iced 5 games for the Phoenix picking up two assists along the way. While not an outstanding import D man, Platil was able to come in a do a job for the Phoenix at late notice. Did not look out of place on the blue line and brought a good amount of size to the Phoenix blue line. Thank you Jan and good look in your future career. 

First Period: The game got underway and the Phantoms began to control the puck in the early stages. Once again this Peterborough team is a tough nut to crack, they work hard in their own zone and use a high forecheck which makes it difficult for the opposition to gain their zone. Despite this the first scoring chance fell to the Phoenix when James Archer rung the post early in the game. The visitors would, however, be the first to light the lamp when James Ferrara deflected a Milan Baranyk shot at 13min 34sec. A superb goal to be fair! That lead lasted 4 minutes as the home side levelled after sustained pressure on Ozins goal. Michal Satek continuing his fine goalscoring form scoring after a pass from Robin Kovar timed at 17min 44sec. 

Second Period: The Phantoms upped the pressure in the second period and the Phoenix began to creak. Peterborough re-took the lead minutes in when Craig Scott emerged from behind Fone's net to score a back handed goal at 24min 29sec. Just over a minute later things went from bad to worse for the Phoenix when Ales Padalek extended the Phantoms lead at 25min 51sec. Phoenix were really struggling at this point, 1) to keep hold of the puck and 2) to remain structured in their defence. No surprise then when the Phantoms made it 4-1 when Will Weldon scored for the visitors. No surprise, at this point the Phoenix called a time out to re-group. The short break doing some good and the Phoenix reduced the defuicit when Satek scored once again when he picked up a rebound from a Kovar shot, that goal coming at 32min 09sec. The deficit was almost reduced again in the dying seconds of the powerplay as Satek raced clear on a breakaway only to be denied by Ozins. 

Third Period: The Phantoms played a great third period in Deeside, up by two goals they switched to play a perfect road game. With the goals in hand they were able to soak up the Phoenix pressure allowing the home side's short bench to tire while hitting them on the break. The period was mainly filled with penalties, mainly to the Phantoms. This gave the Phoenix a few powerplay opportunities which, the home side could not capitalise on. As the game entered its final 5 minutes the Phantoms were able to secure the win with one final goal coming from Lloyd Gibson at 55min 08sec. 

Verdict: A poor second period from the Phoenix effectively lost the game this time. A competitive first period and the first half of the third was not enough to beat, possibly, the best side to have come to Deeside so far this season. Koulikov was worked his magic once again this season and the Phantoms will be challenging at the top of the EPL. For the Phoenix, a tough loss to take, with the short bench and injuries really taking its toll its difficult to see the sunshine at the moment. One thing is certain though, this Phoenix team will never give up no matter the situation!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Basingstoke Bison 04/10/15

The season rolls into October and Christmas is fast approaching, yes I said it! The EPL season is relentless and the past weekend saw a tough one for the Phoenix. Saturday the Phoenix took on the Bracknell Bees, bolstered by the signing of Frankie Bakrlik the Bees have had a mixed start to the season, struggling for a sequence of events. Following that away trip the Phoenix would return to Deeside to face the current league leaders the Basingstoke Bison. The Bison have improved their roster quite a bit this year and, are another team to go down the import goaltender route capturing the former Edinburgh Capitals goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky. 

Saturdays trip to Bracknell saw the Phoenix come away with a 4-2 victory but, that only tells one side of the story. By all accounts it was a very tough game for the Phoenix. The Bees have one full extra line when compared to the Phoenix plus, the end of the game saw some tasty bits of action with Spearing/Galazzi being ejected from the game for the home side and, Kovar being ejected for the Phoenix. Bees TV will be well worth the viewing this week! 

First Period: The Phoenix welcomed the Bison to Deeside for the first time this season with both sides looking to complete a 4 point weekend. The Bison coming off a superb win against the Tigers and the Phoenix, after a tough win in Bracknell. It sounded like both teams had very tough saturday nights which would mean sunday's encounter would be a real battle. The period got underway with both teams battling hard, no one really dominating the game in the early stages. The visitors took the lead when Reynolds found Karpov breaking down the left wing with speed. His pace took him round the Phoenix defence and in on Fone, Karpov scoring a superb goal at 4min 28sec. Despite falling behind the Phoenix kept battling the Bison and saw some chances begin to fall their way, Hiadlovsky looking a little shaky in goal. The hosts got on the board when Joe Baird was called for interference. On the resulting powerplay Nico Aaltonen scored from a superb pass from Satek, the game tied at 7min 42sec. Bison re-took the lead just after the halfway point in the period when Shaun Thompson took advantage of a Phoenix giveaway to feed Joe Rand who gave the visitors the lead at 11min 32sec. Bison held the lead for a few minutes before the Phoenix levelled once again, after hard work from Ben Wood behind the goal he found James Archer in front to score at 15min 55sec. After that flurry of goals the period ended 2-2, both sides unable to assert their control and both looking exhausted from their saturday night efforts. 

Second Period: The period opened up much like the first, Bison and Phoenix working hard but the play not quite living up to the usual Phoenix/Bison tussle's. The home side took the lead for the first time in the game when Ben Russell sent a pin point pass up centre ice to find Satek who raced in on Hiadlovsky to slot home and give the Phoenix the lead at 27min 48sec. As with the game so fare that lead was short lived and the Bison equalised through that man Karpov again. During a goal mouth scramble when all the Phoenix had to do was swing a stick and clear the puck, Karpov found some space and a free puck to jam it home and level the game at 29min 01sec. Phoenix managed to create some chances themselves after the Bison goal, the highlight of which was a superb effort from Kovar who's shot, beat Hiadlovsky but range the post and bounced across the goaline and out. Really unlucky but no goal! There would be one more goal in the period, one for the visitors. That man Karpov again, in an almost carbon copy of his first of the night, broke free from the Phoenix defence to go in on Fone alone. Scoring his breakway effort to give the Bison the lead, and his hattrick goal, at 38min 11sec, Mogg and Vantroba with the assists. 

Third Period: The third period was a struggle for both teams, looking exhausted neither side were able to make any clear cut chances. The Phoenix had one powerplay opportunity during the period, with Vantroba sitting for interference but the Phoenix PP could not capitalise. The period wore on with the home side unable to level the game and, despite pulling Fone for the last 1min 37sec the equaliser could not be found and the Bison hung on for the win. 

Verdict: Bit of a strange Phoenix/Bison game really, not played anywhere near the usual intensity or skill despite a few superb individual efforts. It really looked like saturday night had taken it out of both sides. The players looked tired but credit to both for working hard. Each goal was either a brilliant piece of individual skill or a fortunate bounce. Credit the Bison and Karpov for taking the chances given, I do feel the Phoenix deserved something from the game. Not necessarily the win but at least a point! Never mind, a game to chalk off and move on! 

Bracknell 2 Phoenix 4 

Phoenix 4 Bison 5

Monday, 28 September 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Sheffield Steeldogs 27/09/15

With the season now approaching the end of its first month of play the league table is beginning to take shape, even at this early stages there have been surprises, injuries and same old same old. The Manchester Phoenix, possibly, being one of the seasons surprise packages in that they are competing when many thought they wouldn't! 

That being said the Phoenix injury curse has hit already this season, Stanislav Gron and Mark Thomas are both currently out with injury, heading into last weekends games Phoenix drafted in Jan Platil, who had recently been released by the Hull Pirates and, added Deeside Dragons Ross Kennedy and Paul Davies. Saturday saw the Phoenix take the drive down the M6 & M5 to the Link Centre to take on the Wildcats. It would turn out to be a pointless visit with the Wildcats running out 5-3 victors. Take a look at the weblinks at the foot of this post for a match report from the game. 

Sunday night saw the first visit of the Steeldogs version Greg Wood to Deeside, usually the Phoenix would have played Sheffield in pre-season but not this year. Sheffield came to the game after an OT loss to Guildford which is no bad result, Greg and his players, joined by a large travelling contingent of fans arrived in Deeside for the seasons first War of the Roses. 

First Period: The first period got off to a quick start and the Phoenix dominating the play. This version of the Steeldogs were not quite as rough and ready as Payette versions, physicality was there but by no means as much as years gone by. During the first period the Phoenix were able to stifle the Steeldogs so they were not able to mount many, if any, attacks on Fone's net. It was the home side who would score first when Robin Kovar found Michal Satek for the games first goal at 2min 09sec. The Phoenix pressure continued and the pressure was relentless so much so, by period end, the Phoenix had laid 22 shots upon Dailbor Sedlar's goal. 

Second Period: Even though the Phoenix had overwhelmed the Steeldogs in the first period they still only had one goal to show for it. Phoenix fans still had the Guildford game fresh in their minds, that game, Flames had all the possession but still lost the game, could that happen to the Phoenix? Of course it could! After such a flat opener for the Steeldogs the second saw the beginning of their fight back. The Phoenix ran into some penalty trouble which offered the Steeldogs some of their own chances. Phoenix had Steve Fone to thank who was in fine form. The period wore on and Sheffield began to get their mojo going, Korhon and Bosas (whom I kept referring to as Bottas in my head for the whole game!) starting to turn the screw. The period ended though with no goals and the home side still ahead by the single goal. 

Third Period: The game exploded into life during the third period, it had goals, chances, hissy fit's, minor handbags, pretty much everything we'd expect from a Steeldogs game. The Phoenix imports began to earn their pay when Robin Kovar and Michal Satek combined to double the Phoenix lead at 44min 55sec. That 2 goal lead was short lived when Ashley Calvert took the puck all the way down the ice to get the Steeldogs on the board just 29sec later scoring for the Dogs at 45min 24sec. Satek would turn provider for Robin Kovar at 45min 26sec which a true highlight reel goal to extend the Phoenix lead once more. This time though, the lead lasted even less than before, Sheffield reducing the deficit 22sec later when Korhon got the Dogs second at 46min 08sec. If Kovar's goal earlier was highlight reel, the Phoenix decisive 4 th was even better. Kovar and Satek combining once more for the latter to grab his hattrick goal. An awesome move up ice, neat inter passing with Satek crashing the net saw him score at 56min 35sec to kill off the Steeldogs challenge. The Steeldogs began to lose some composure and discipline which saw a succession head to the penalty box. Sedlar was pulled from the goal for the extra attacker with about 90sec to go, Robin Kovar got his second of the game, an empty net goal, at 59min 36sec. I will admit I did not see the incident but, at the same time, Korhon was ejected from the game for an abuse of the official call. Apparently he chucked his stick in the direction of an official? Am open to be filled in on that! 

Verdict: After a loss in Swindon it was important the Phoenix get some points from the weekend. Games against Sheffield can't be taken lightly and the Phoenix opening 20min was a great show of control! In the end the Phoenix overall pressure and better discipline won the game. Sheffield will cause some upsets this season, it looks like player/coach Greg Wood has decided to go in a different direction that previously under Payetter!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Guildford Flames 20/09/15

After the Phoenix perfect opening weekend the season would face a huge reality check the weekend just gone. The Phoenix came up against two clubs who would be challengers for the EPL title. Saturday saw the Phoenix take a trip down south to take on the Basingstoke Bison then head back to Deeside to take on the Guildford Flames. Two clubs with bigger rosters than the Phoenix and two tough games. The Phoenix have always struggled a little in Basinstoke but the return, on home ice, the Phoenix would look to beat the Flames in the first installment of the #PyroDerby. 

The weekends preparations were not helped when news emerged that MecaGron would be sidelined through injury for the foreseeable future. This is where the knife edge nature of the Phoenix roster would fall down. The team are already a short benched team, take out one of your main scoring threats that puts the team really behind the 8 ball! But, thems the cards your dealt. I wont go into the game in detail for two reasons, 1) I wasn't there and 2) head over to Banners on the Wall and Anthony will give you an in depth rundown of the game. Suffice to say the short bench, plus another injury sustained during the game meant the Phoenix chronically short bench could not cope. The Phoenix left Basingstoke with a 6-2 loss. 

Back in Deeside on the sunday news emerged of Ben Wood's injury, having taken a hard hit in Basingstoke the night before, Ben was left with a sore shoulder which would keep him out the game. Two players down, 4 if you include the two Deeside youngsters signed on 2-way deals who, were also out through injury. Coupled with the Flames strength in depth I will admit I was not feeling hopeful about the game. Big big thanks must go out to two Dragons (Deeside) senior players who answered the call and suited up to help the Phoenix out. So, James Parsons and Simon Furnival to volunteer and come to play an EPL game with no training with the Phoenix at all, massive thanks to you and the Deeside Dragons! 

First Period: The game began without much structure to it, much of the play was very scrappy with neither side able to take control of the game. Guildford were able to pin most of the play in the Phoenix zone but, thanks to hard working defence and Fone in ninja mode, the Flames rarely came close to a clear cut chance in the opening stages. The Flames pressure did begin to build and a breakthrough was made on the powerplay. With Trent Hope in the penalty box on a tripping call, Flames went on the PP at 7min 16sec. After setting up in the zone the Flames began to move the puck around and, after just 33sec made the breakthrough. Steve Fone made the initial save on the play, then a 2nd and 3rd save but the Flames perseverance delivered a goal on the 4th attempt. After Fone made the 3rd stop, his rebound fell to Piatak unmarked on the back post to score. As the period wound down the next incident of note was a rather amusing penalty taken by Andy McKinney. Mark Thomas made a fantastic, heavy, hit behind Fone's goal which Andy took exception too. After the play was blown dead, McKinney and Thomas skated away having words before McKinney dropped his gloves. Thomas just giggled, turned away, and skated back to the bench. McKinney, dropping the gloves a little early and earning himself a 2+10 for incitement. Flames went into the break just a goal to the good despite outshooting the Phoenix 2-to-1! 

Second Period: Throughout the first period and into the second, it became obvious the Phoenix were playing to a particular plan. Accepting the shorter bench, the Phoenix were allowing the Flames puck possession, then working very hard to clear the ice in front of Fone. As the Phoenix continued to soak up the pressure the Flames began to get more and more frustrated. Small errors began creeping into the game and the Phoenix started to get a few breakaway chances. Mark Thomas turned quarterback in a remarkable 5 minute period at the mid point of the game, which saw the Phoenix take the lead. His first assist saw James Archer released who danced through the Flames defence to score past Wall at 29min 49sec. The second, Robin Kovar had sat in the penalty box for a 2min tripping call, upon his release, Thomas floated a beautiful pass inbetween the Flames D men for Kovar to latch onto and skate in on Wall alone. Robin making no mistake with his finish putting the Phoenix into the lead at 34min 17sec. 

Third Period: The Phoenix did grow into the game more in the third period but, Flames did still control the number of chances created but, they still could not put the puck in the net. The Phoenix were now very comfortable in soaking up the pressure and looking to counter on the break. The only goal of the game came to the Phoenix in, and i'll have to quote Ben Knight on this, possibly the most bizare goal he has ever seen. I will admit I did not see the goal as I was noting down a shot. All I heard was the crowd erupt from across the ice. A goal you will need to watch Phoenix TV for I think! Gareth O'Flaherty scoring the Phoenix third goal at 42min 40sec. The Phoenix D contunued to hold and frustrate the Flames who could not make headway back into the game at all. Into the last two minutes the Flames pulled Wall for the extra attacker but could not make the breakthrough. Phoenix holding on for a memorable win! 

Verdict: I will admit, going into sundays game, I did not have the Phoenix down for a win. I thought we could compete for periods 1 & 2 but the third we would tire and let slip the game. How wrong could I have been. This was such a statement type of win, almost as if the team just accepted the numerical disadvantage but in no way would that stop them. There was so much guts and determination during those 60mins I think it surprised the Flames as well as myself. Guildford may have expected an easier game due to their extra numbers but, quickly became frustrated and their discipline and sharpness cost them. Huge win for the Phoenix and many many many big smiles around the rink after the final buzzer!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Phoenix Rolling - MK Lightning 13/09/15

The weekend just gone saw fans across the EPL dust down those jerseys, fill up the car and hit the road for another exciting EPL season. For the Phoenix it well and truly marks the end of one of the most turbulent summers the club has ever experienced. After a two week pre-season, now firmly settled into their new surroundings in Deeside, the Phoenix open up their EPL season with an inaugural trip to play the Hull Pirates, before returning along the M62 and M56 to take on the Lightning at home. 

The Lightning have built up a strong roster this year, starting with Dean Skinns between the pipes, a player who backstoped the Bison to a number of cup wins. The MK defence is built with some big guys and the ever present Leigh Jamieson, a vetran of the EPL at just 30 years of age. Up front MK are spoilt with riches, a good Brit core including two from the Phoenix in Bobby Chamberlain and Jack Watkins, Blaz Emersic a long time EPL player an an import I would love to see in Phoenix colours. The standout signing has to be, Rene Jarolin though, their import forward captured from the Edinburgh Capitals. Scoring 56 points at over a point per game in the EIHL, he will light up the EPL! 

Going into sunday nights game against MK, Phoenix made the trip across the north of England to Hull. PLaying in the Pirates first EPL game in 'The World's most Versatile Arena' and giving Phoenix fans a chance to sample the famous chip spice! From the updates it sounded like the Phoenix were largely on top in the game but were not able to convert many of their chances. Just one goal a period until the game opened up in the fourth, Phoenix running out 4-1 victors. 

First Period: Throughout our time in the EPL, Phoenix/MK games have always been a highlight for me. Both are teams that are set up to play hockey, both teams have fast and skilful players and are coached to win. The first period began with neither side really dominating the play. Chances were created at either end with the players transitioning through centre ice with speed. A real end to end period had to wait until the later stages to see its first goal. Blaz Emersic took the first penalty of the game at 14min 36sec when he took a two minute penalty for hooking. The Phoenix PP unit went to action and, with the mad advantage, would score the games first goal. The three imports on the ice combining to set up MecaGron for the first goal, timed at 15min 33sec with assists to Kovar and Aaltonen. The period carried on but no further goals were scored. Jack Watkins having the best chance of the first for the visitors but, sadly, fanning on a shot allowing Fone to clear up. 

Second Period: The second did not suffer from either team taking a breather, the play carried on from the first period with both teams going full tilt from the puck drop.  Through the early stages both goaltenders were in action but were equal to the shots.  As the period wore on the more clear cut chances were made when either team was on a power play. The Lightning then ran in to some penalty trouble when Markku Tahtinen went to the box at  32min 36sec for hooking. Then Leigh Jamieson followed him to the box at 34min 12sec for 2mins for slashing plus 2mins for abuse of an official. Despite having a 5 on 3 for a few moments, the Phoenix could not capitalise on the resulting powerplay. A second goal for the hosts did arrive before the buzzer though, 38min 16sec James Archer setting up MecaGron for his second goal of the game. Phoenix heading into the final period break, good value for their 2-0 goal lead. 

Third Period: Phoenix turned the screw a little early in the third period when they jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Robin Kovar scored the Phoenix 3rd at 41min 12sec when he capitalised on an awkward bounce from the netting to decieve Dean Skinns. I know a number of the MK fans were protesting that it was kicked in but the referee saw no foul and awarded the goal. Assists going to James Archer and Gareth O'Flaherty. The Phoenix extended their lead around two minutes later when scorer turned provider as Kovar assisted James Archer to the Phoenix 4th goal, timed at 43min 33sec. It was then the Phoenix turn to run into penalty trouble, the Phoenix PK unit enduring an extended period on the ice as Ben Russell, Luke Boothroyd and MecaGron all spent time in the penalty box. Perhaps those penalties started to take their toll, plus MK's expected increase in effort as the period wore on but the visitors did manage to break Fone's resistance. Jack Watkins and Joshua Cook combined to set up captain Adam Carr to get the visitors on the board at 49min 32sec. 10 minutes to go and 3 goals to get MK really started to ratchet up the pressure. As the Phoenix became more defensive and Skinns saw less shots the Phoenix continued to hit penalty trouble. It was only a matter of time before MK would score again. As MK began to see a few more breakaway chances the Phoenix D became more desperate. Luke Boothroyd would take one for the team when he skated to the box, at 51min 28sec to sit for 2 minutes on an interference penalty. On the resulting powerplay Mk turned the screw and scored their second to reduce the deficit. That player you love to hate, Leigh Jamieson scoring for the Lightning at 52min 23sec with assists going to Tahtinen and Luomala. Still more than enough time to score two goals the Phoenix had to dig deep to see the game out. Despite Kovar, Boothroyd and Thomas heading to the penalty box, the Phoenix were able to hold firm and see out the win. The final buzzer going and a 4-2 win for the Phoenix. 

Verdict: A tough win against a very good MK side, MK will do alot better than last years 7th position this year. They have great depth and some excellent imports. For me, and I appreciate we are only two games into the season, the weakness for me is in Dean Skinns. I saw it during his time with the Bison too, if you ruffle him early or dont allow him to settle his game goes a little haywire at times. This is where teams can capitalise. All that being said, I take nothing away from the Phoenix, they played a solid, hard game and deserved the win. The early goals in the third period were hugely vital. A case of taking the chances when they counted. The win certainly caps a great opening weekend!