The Angry Budgie Live

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