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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Phoenix Rolling - 22nd March Swindon Wildcats

Following the Phoenix excellent win against the Bees the season would be rounded off by the visit of the Swindon Wildcats. This season Swindon have been much improved in the EPL when compared to recent seasons. After the win the previous night, Phoenix had secured 6th place in the table and had nothing but pride riding on this game, for Swindon however, they were battling with the Phantoms for 4th or 5th place in the table. A win for them would see them above the Peterborough outfit so, this would be a competitive game. 

The game would also see the last groupon game of the season so, a large crowd swelled the stands as all rose to welcome a certain Tony Hand onto the ice for his last regular season game in his career. 

First Period: The game opened up with franetic pace, both teams forwards sharp and testing Fone and Lyle right from the opening puck drop. Phoenix took the early initiative firing two quick goals past Lyle. Frankie Bakrlik scored the first goal at 6min 46sec then Robin Kovar added a second at 7min 51sec. Kovar's effort was a fantastic one man effort. Feeding on a past from Archer Kovar took the puck down the ice, deked Lyle, then circled the net to score an excellent wrap around effort. One for the highlight reel! Fans across the EPL know, Swindon do have a talented team and, one of the best top lines in the league. It was that firepower that would shock the Phoenix and, in the space of about 2 and a half minutes would see the Wildcats surge ahead in the game. Malasinski got the Wildcats on the board at 14min 44sec before two superb goals from Aaron Nell. His first coming at 15min 29sec then, Phoenix gave him the freedom of the Ice Dome to get the Cats third at 17min 02sec. A real shock to the Phoenix system but a deserved lead for the Cats heading into the interval. 

Second Period: Ex Phoenix captain Kenton Smith took a slashing penalty early in the second period which sent out the Phoenix powerplay unit. After working the puck around the zone, good interplay between Frankie and Tony saw the puck passed to Adam Walker who scored close in on Lyle, levelling the scores at 25min 32sec. We all know Lyle is a superb netminder at this level, so, one of the best ways past him is to screen him or get in his face. Frankie Bakrlik gave the Phoenix the lead once more when he shot through a screen to score after 26min 59sec. The period continued with great end to end hockey and, the Wildcats kept in touch by scoring with just 6sec left on the clock, Bullas with the Cats goal. 

Third Period: With the scores level, the Wildcats needed just one point to secure 4th place. This meant the third period was played at a furious pace and the goals kept coming! Swindon took the lead at 47min 19sec when Loris Taylor took a speculative shot which deceived Steve Fone. The game had been played at such a high standard, the goals too, the Phoenix 5th goal was a highlight. Frankie Bakrlik found Robin Kovar who weaved his way through the Wildcats defence and took a quick wrist shot which beat Lyle, game tied once again at 51min 07sec. I dont think either set of fans would have minded had the game ended 5-5. One last sting in the tail though, in the dying minute, Burlin sent a long shot in on Lyle who coughed up a juicy rebound, Adam Walker, the lone man following it in pounced and lifted the rebound over Lyle into the roof of the night. Scoring the winner with just 26sec left on the clock. The Ice Dome erupted and the Wildcats defeated. 

Verdict: What a game, a real goalfest and 60 minutes of fast paced intense hockey. Swindon were unlucky not to leave with a point and, in doing so, were unable to take 4th place in the league. Phoenix did deserve some points from the game and, will feel justified in taking the win. The depleted bench performed admirably against a very good Cats side. The game winner being the icing on the cake! 

Attendance: Another big groupon crowd sunday night, i'll say 1,800 in the Ice Dome.

Phoenix 6 Swindon 5 - -Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Swindon 5 - Wildcats Article 

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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Phoenix Rolling - 21st March Bracknell Bees

Fresh from playing the Phoenix just 6 days earlier, the Bees came back to Altrincham on saturday night for their last visit to the Ice Dome. After a tough 5-4 victory, the Phoenix knew this game would be another tough one. The Bees are stacked with talented young players, turning them into an effective team will be next seasons priority. 

For the Phoenix, they were without Luke Boothroyd, Jacob Corson-Heron, Adam Walker, Joe Graham, and Michal Psurny. Possibly the shortest bench the Phoenix have ever iced at home. 

First Period: Bracknell were icing without a few of their more senior players and, this had a big effect on their play. There was still the pace and stickhandling but, the Bees did not have nearly the same level of craft in this game. The home team really dominated this first period, with the majority of shots (21 to 7) and the only goals of the period. The large crowd saw the Phoenix take the lead after just 2min 32sec when Kovar scored on the powerplay with Harvey Pitcher in the penalty box on a holding call. Tom Annetts was facing alot of rubber in the period and, the home side doubled their lead just a few minutes later at 5min 58sec. Shaun Thompson passed to Frankie Bakrlik who unleashed a bomb past Annetts give the Phoenix a 2-0 lead. 

Second Period: Bees upped their intensity in the second period and began to test Ryan in the Phoenix net. Phoenix scored the first goal of the period with a fantastic move from one end of the ice to the other. Robin Kovar found James Archer who raced clear down the near boards, who then crossed the puck to an unmarked Tony Hand who slotted home, goal timed at 29min 25sec. Bees hit back with their first goal of the game through Matt Foord scoring at 36min 19sec. As the period wound down the Phoenix would score another goal in the last minute through an unlikely source. Johan Burlin had the puck on the side boards, he threw the puck on nett through a sea of players and into the goal. His first goal on home ice sent the Phoenix fans delirious! Goal timed at 39min 06sec #IwastherewhenBurlinscored 

Third Period: The third period passed with little incident, but for a couple of goals to the home side. With little riding on the game the game did begin to wind down as both teams looked to avoid any serious injuries. Phoenix added their 5th goal of the game when Shaun Thompson scored against his old club at 49min 34sec. Remarkably a 6th goal followed just before the final buzzer. Hand passed to Kovar who slipped the puck to the hashmarks for #Burlinscoringmachine to score the Phoenix 6th with a pinpoint shot. That goal timed at 59min 33sec. 

Verdict: A strange game in a way, one that had the feel of a pre-season matchup. Bees did suffer for lacking some experienced heads in Spearing, Glazzi and Hubacek. The Phoenix were able to cope with their shortened bench and got the comfortable win. 

Attendance: I will say 1,200 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 6 Bees 1 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Bees 1 - Bees Article

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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Phoenix Rolling - 15th March Bracknell Bees

Phoenix faced the Bees in Altrincham just a couple of days following their English Challenge Cup 1st leg defeat to the Telford Tigers. Since that game the big piece of news broke that. Red Hockey, owners of the Telford Tigers, had bought a 49% stake in the Bracknell Bees. It's great news for Bees fans, after much speculation throughout the season, this brings stability and longevity to the Bees. Much as I , and others, disagree with one owner owning more than one club. Wayne Scholes must be complemented for putting his money where his mouth is! Security for the Bees means a more stable EPL. 

Bees come to the Ice Dome for only their second visit of the season, which, is quickly followed by their third and last visit this coming weekend. Rooted to the foot of the table the Bees have struggled all season but, have claimed some scalps and, thanks to the Bees academy, have some genuine talent and future prospects! That stand-out prospect being Ivan Antonov. This is his first full season in the EPL and, the 17 year old has 39 points from 42 games, outstanding! Perhaps he has a future in Telford? Makes you wonder about the link up? 

Anyway, onto the game, despite the Phoenix struggles this season, a home game against the Bees should be seen as a win for the Phoenix. 

First Period: The puck dropped and off we went, it had been such a long time since the Phoenix last played the Bees, I though the Phoenix would win but I couldn't remember the matchup against the Bees. On the Ice the Bees were excellent, very quick, great passing between their players, perhaps just a little rusty and not polished enough to really capitalise on all their chances. Having said that, it was the Bees who lit the lamp first, just after the 10min mark the Bees swept up the Ice and the excellent Ivan Antonov scored past Ryan, the puck took ages to cross the line but they all count, goal timed at 10min 53sec. The Phoenix began to edge ahead in the game and control the puck, that effort and control was finally rewarded when Bobby Chamberlain scored at 16min 49sec. The goal given to Bobby after he banked the puck in off a Bees defender. 

Second Period: This period really was, to borrow cliche, a period of two halves! The Phoenix came out roaring in the first half, taking just 15 seconds Bakrlik and Kovar took the puck and, almost, buldozed their way to a goal. Frankie taking the puck up the ice to feed Kovar and give the Phoenix their first lead. The home team extended that lead less than three minutes later when Adam Walker tipped a Ben Wood shot to score the Phoenix third. The goal coming at 22min 51sec. Despite the Phoenix continuing to retain the puck, the Bees sharpened their wits and hit right back. Matt Towalski scored at 23min 58sec and then, just 36sec later Hubacek equalised and, 13sec after that Lukas Smital had given the away side the lead. A very disappointing end to the period where the Phoenix had gone from a position of strength to trailing the game. A big team talk needed in the intermission! 

Third Period: The Phoenix came out in the third with a purpose and, on the powerplay, they levelled the scores. With the Phoenix PP unit on the ice the puck found its way to Robin Kovar who scored, timed at 46min 34sec. The Bees then hit penalty trouble which really derailed their chances in the game. Waller picked up a 2 min boarding penalty, followed by Scott Spearing getting a 2+10 game misconduct for checking to the head plus an additional game misconduct resulting in him being thrown from the game. Lukas Smital was the next to lose his wrag, talking his way off the ice with a 10min misconduct penalty. Not the wisest of choices when you are the player coach. Jan Bendik then picked up a 2min hooking penalty. It was on this penalty that the Phoenix scored their 5th goal and took the lead. Frantisek Bakrlik unleashing a monster of a shot for the winner. The goal timed at 58min 91sec. Jan Bendik also picked up a 10min misconduct penalty at the same time. 

Verdict: A tight win for the Phoenix and one where they made the most of taking their chances. Not the best performance but they got the job done. The Bees were much improved and, they really do have some excellent young prospects. It was their discipline that cost them in the game. Having three players chucked out in one period, one being your play coach was not the best thing to do! 

Attendance: A good crowd in the Ice Dome, i'll guess at 1,300. 

Phoenix 5 Bracknell 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Bracknell 4 - Bees Article

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Phoenix Rolling - 1st March Peterborough Phantoms

1st March!!!! Were in blummin March! When March arrives it really means one thing, the season is nearing its end! For the Phoenix it means the end is nigh for a frustrating season. A season which has seen next to no consistency, injuries, and the EPL improving where the Phoenix really stood still. Coupled with the Phoenix on-ice leader Tony Hand having a poor season, by his standards, 2014/15 will not be a vintage one in Altrincham. 

This season I have been frustrated and angry at times but, its season like this, where I like to take a step back and remember how the Storm went bust, how the Phoenix had to have a few seasons off and think, well, I can be thankful I have a team to watch this season! 

With that bit of melancholy out the way, there was the small matter of the Phantoms visit to the Ice Dome last sunday night. The Phantoms really have been a surprise package this season, certainly a vastly different roster this term and one that has had a bit of money thrown at it. Slava Koulikov must be praised for assembling and coaching the Phantoms to an improved EPL spot this year. 

First Period: A big crowd greeted both teams onto the ice for sunday nights encounter and the puck was dropped. This Phantoms team are much improved this year and, it was evident in the early stages of the first period. Fast and skillful the Phantoms looked the most likely to score first. That being said, the Phoenix were not out of it at all, working hard to deal with the Phantoms, the home side were able to regularly test Auzins in the Phantoms net but were not able to score. The end to end hockey continued all period but, neither side could take the lead. 

Second Period: Against the run of the play early in the second, the Phantoms did take the lead. McGiffin getting the Phantoms first at 21min 45sec. That lead was short lived when the home side levelled up less than a minute later, Adam Walker scoring the Phoenix first at 22min 41sec. Phantoms began to up their game after the Phoenix goal, they began to press the Phoenix and force turnovers and breakaways. The Phantoms then made the Phoenix crack and took a strangle hold on the game. They re-took the lead at 27min 05sec through Bebris, and follwed it up with a goal from Luke Ferrara at 31min 10sec and Darius Pliskauskas at 38min 41sec. A devastating 10min spell where the Phantoms lept to a 4-1 lead. 

Third Period: After the explosive second period for the Phantoms the third was a little more even. Although the game was really done in terms of where the two points were going the Phoenix did try to get back into the game and make the scoreline a little more favourable. They scored the first goal of the period at 53min 29sec through Chamberlain. This lifted the crowd a little as the deficit was cut to 2 but, that hope was quickly extinguished when Koulikov restored the three goal lead at 54min 11sec. As the game wound down the Phoenix would add one more consolation goal, through Frankie Bakrlik, the Phoenix 3rd goal coming at 58min 49sec. 

Verdict: Not great for the home fans really! The Phoenix, seemed only to compete for brief spells and were blown off the ice in the second period. With the season we are having, and having watched this Phantoms team, the result is no surprise. Phantoms were excellent, strength all over the ice, awesome speed at times and, Auzins has found his groove in the EPL it seems! One to forget for the Phoenix, lets move on and concentrate on the EPL cup! 

Attendance: Big crowd in the ice dome, ill guess at 1,200 in. 

Phoenix 3 Peterborough 5 - Phoenix Article

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