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.
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