The weekend saw the Phoenix make another trip down to the renewed Thunderdome to take on the MK Lightning. Which was followed up by the Bison making their last trip north of the regular season and, the last game in the series between the two clubs. Phoenix have often struggled away against MK, despite having a good record in Altrincham against the Lightning, just how it goes sometimes! This trip south would result in a loss, but a close one for the Phoenix. The game also saw the debut of Curtis Huppe in Lightning colours, who signed for MK the day before the registration deadline from the Belfast Giants. In what sounded like an entertaining game, MK would hold on to win 5-4.
MK 5 Phoenix 4 - MK Article
MK 5 Phoenix 4 - Phoenix Article
After the loss away to MK, Phoenix would look to win the final instalment of a long standing rivalry with the Bison. Probably, one of the Phoenix best rivalries as the clubs have often followed each other in the league. Games between the two sides are always good hockey games with a good bit of edge and physicality. Ciaran Long, playing the pantomime villain, is always good to see back on Altrincham ice!
First Period: The first period began and the play was competitive as ever, Phoenix working hard to make their lesser numbers count and the Bison playing their usual road game. Playing a high forecheck and clogging the centre ice which, on a small ice pad like we have in Altrincham, is usually an effective weapon. Each team traded chances and, we would have to wait until past the halfway mark before the lamp was light for the first time. Frankie Bakrlik picked up the puck and took it down the left wing, crossing the blue line he wound up and unleashed a storming shot past Dean Skinns just over his right pad. Absolutely no stopping that goal, timed at 12min 25sec! As the period wore on both teams were effectively cancelling each other out. Both Fone and Skinns putting up some great saves to frustrate each teams attack. The Bison did make their own breakthrough, scoring just before the buzzer at 19min 49sec when Joe Rand tied the game.
Second Period: Phoenix came out strong in the second period only to come up against one of the EPL's best netminders. Skinns keeping the home team at bay for the opening stages. The Phoenix finally make the breakthrough again at 27min 28sec when 'That man from the Czech Republic' found the net to put the home side ahead. The Bison, showed their determination once again when the tied the game once more. After sustained pressure, and some messy play in/around Fone's net the puck broke to Connolly who had all the time in the world, and a gaping net, to score the Bison 2nd goal, timed at 30min 25sec. No more scoring in the second and the game headed to the final session.
Third Period: The final session was very nip/tuck for the majority. Each team working hard and both goaltenders putting in excellent shifts to keep the opposition at bay. We had to wait until the final half of the period to see some scoring. The Phoenix, once again, took the lead as Joe Graham released Bobby Chamberlain to put the Phoenix ahead at 53min 24sec. The joy was short-lived as the Bison scored, one of the fastest reply goals ever, when just 6 sec later Joe Greener scored to tie the game again at 53min 48sec. The Phoenix and Bison are so evenly matched that 60mins could no separate the two sides. We went to overtime!
Overtime/Penalty Shots: Overtime was as open as the game was, the short 5 min session saw 10 shots in all but neither side could get the winner. Penalty shots were as tight as the game, Karpov went first and was denied by the pad of Fone, Walker and Long were also denied. Michal Psurny would be the first scorer of the shootout when he lifted the puck over Dean Skinns. Advantage Phoenix! It was down to Joe Greener, his shot was again stopped by Fone and the Phoenix won the extra point.
Verdict: Another excellent Phoenix/Bison game and one worth watching the full highlights on Phoenix TV. Both sides deserved something from the game and, on balance of play, Phoenix deserved the win. So a 4-3 victory after PS is probably fair all round!
Attendance: A good crowd of 1,000 in the Ice Dome
Phoenix 4 Bison 3 APS - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 4 Bison 3 APS - Bison Article