After such a poor weekend against the Tigers the Phoenix really needed a strong weekend to bounce back and keep pace with the clubs above them in the EPL table. The weekend that gave them that opportunity was another tough one, away to the Sheffield Steeldogs and then home to the Basingstoke Bison. Going into the weekend the Phoenix were dealt a blow, Corson-Heron, we know, was already sidelined for an extended period of time with a broken collarbone but now, captain Luke Boothroyd was ruled out with a broken wrist. We all know the Phoenix operate with a short bench, take two players out of the lineup and that short bench is looking worryingly thin!
Even so, the guys are professional about things and will always put the effort in!
Sheffield 4 Phoenix 3 OT - Phoenix Article
Sheffield 4 Phoenix 3 OT - Sheffield Article
Saturday's away game to Sheffield saw a typically physical affair, in the end the Steeldogs taking the game in overtime. Given our current squad and level of play, im happy taking a point from an away game in Sheffield! That left sunday night's joust with the Bison who, the Phoenix demolished in their last trip north. Would it happen again? Coming into the game, Phoenix as mentioned had an OT loss to Sheffield, the Bison came into the game after a superb OT win against league leaders Telford Tigers. Advantage Bison perhaps?
First Period: As mentioned many times on here and on the podcast, Bison/Phoenix games are always close and keenly fought. The game opened and, after just 18sec the home side thought they had the lead. A quick circle round the net and the puck was in, so said the referee....but wait.....after a long discussion the goal was ruled out. Despite this setback the Phoenix worked hard and made sure the Bison knew they were in for a tough night. Highlight of the first period was a huge hit on Muzzy Wales by Ben Wood. Brilliant check! Phoenix were first to take a penalty and the Bison would make them pay. At 7min 12sec Melachrino scored a superb effort to put the visitors ahead. The first period began to get away from the home side a little after this point. Thanks to some great forechecking the Bison forced Phoenix into a mistake. On the puck Ben Wood tried to wrap the puck around behind the Phoenix net to clear. It didn't make it, was picked up by Dough Sheppard who scored to double the Bison lead at 11min 56sec. The period ended with no further goals and the Bison in the ascendancy!
Second Period: The proverbial rocket was needed for the Phoenix to get back into the game. They began to take control when Robin Kovar scored on the PowerPlay at 26min 18sec. That goal lifted the home side and the Phoenix began to battle, this created a good game with both teams working hard. Bison forced Fone into some excellent saves before picking up a powerplay, with the delayed penalty and extra skater the Phoenix levelled the game. Thompson was found with the puck and then raced up the ice and scored a superb solo effort just 4 sec before the period buzzer. An excellent time to score!
Third Period: So one session to go and scores all tied! Again the play was even until the half way mark. Perhaps harshly, Jack Watkins was called for kneeing and, on the ensuing powerplay, Bison re-took the lead. Karpov scoring at 50min 20sec. Bison got into penalty trouble themselves and, it would be another powerplay goal for the Phoenix. Shaun Thompson getting his second of the night at 57min 31sec. That would be how regulation ended, scores tied 3-3.
Overtime/Penalty Shots: No goals followed in the extra 5 minutes so the game went to the dreaded penalty shots. After the first two rounds the scores were level at 1-1, Archer for the Phoenix and Long for the Bison. Karpov took the Bison 3rd penalty and could not convert setting up Adam Walker for the winner. He made no mistake to secure the extra point for the Phoenix.
Verdict: A competitive game with ebb's and flows, the Phoenix will be delighted to finish the weekend with 3 points. The only worry for me is the short bench, neither Corson-Heron or Boothroyd will be back soo, a big effort is needed now from those healthy bodies left.
Attendance: Around 900 in the Ice Dome.
Phoenix 4 Bison 3 APS - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Bison 3 APS - Bison Article