Phoenix returned to their West Manchester ice after an enforced break due to an ice plant failure and welcomed the MK Lightning. Going into the weekend the Phoenix had been in, fluctuating form, at best! Without a win on home ice in 4/5 weeks the Phoenix would take confidence from the win against MK on home ice against the Lightning earlier in the season.
Saturday night saw the Phoenix take the drive down to the Basingstoke arena to take on the high flying Bison. The game was evenly matched for 40 minutes until the Phoenix seemingly tired in the third period and the Bison rattled off 3 unanswered goals to take the game 4-1.
After heading down the M56 once again it was time to take on the Lightning, who brought a good travelling support with them. The MK Lightning, coached by Pete Russell, have an abundance of offensive talent and, arguably, a little light on defence.....think Swindon and your pretty much there. Emersic still leading the lines and, still a player I have admired and wanted on my team. The game also saw Bobby Chamberlain and Jack Watkins take on the Phoenix once again. The game would also see the welcome return, to home ice, of Mark Thomas. A player the Phoenix have missed since his foot injury a few weeks ago. Mark brings great experience and size to the Phoenix blue line and a little relief for the Phoenix D corps.
First Period: It was a steady start to the game, both teams working very hard and shutting down any clear chances quickly. Fone was in top form and Jordan Marr, in the MK net, while looking a little shaky at times, were still turning aside any shot on goal. MK did have the edge on the scoring opportunities though with the Phoenix hemmed in their own zone for large parts of the period. The period ended without a goal being scored.
Second Period: Well, the second period burst into life, 3 goals and two controversial penalty shots. It all started just after the half way point in the game. With the Phoenix third line on the ice pressuring MK back into their own zone, a shot by Corson-Heron was given up for a juicy rebound by Marr for Ben Wood to blast home and open the scoring, the first goal coming at 32min 32sec. The lead did not last long when Lewis Hook received a beut of a pass up centre ice from Michael Farn, with clear ice behind him Hook approached Fone, deaked him and slid the puck through the open 5-hole at 33min 51sec. Parity didnt last long again as the Phoenix re-took the lead 16sec later. Robin Kovar on hand to slot home a rebound from an Archer shot, 2-1 timed at 34min 07sec. The action continued as the Phoenix looked to extend their lead, after a goal mouth scramble a Lightning player closed his hand over the puck in the crease giving the Phoenix a penalty shot. It would be down to Luke Boothroyd to take the shot. After pulling a neat move on Marr, Boothroyd just couldn't lift the puck over Marr's pads and was denied. Minutes later MK were gifted an opportunity to level the game, Bobby Chamberlain being given a rather fortunate penalty shot of his own. Tinted spec's aside, it really was the wrong call by the ref! Either way, justice was done and Chamberlain was denied by Fone.
Third Period: The third period followed a similar ish pattern to the second, not much happening in the first half, only for the game to spring to life in the second half. The Phoenix went on the powerplay, with Bobby Chamberlain in the box on a 2+10 misconduct penalty. Phoenix extender their lead at 54min 05sec when Stan Gron scored off an assist by Robin Kovar. The potent MK offence reduced the deifict soon after when Blaz Emersic scored at 55min 15sec. Into the last two minutes, MK pulled Jordan Marr for the extra skater and Marko Luomala levelled the game with a deflected shot with just 90sec to go.
Overtime: Overtime saw both teams create chances, Phoenix having the slight edge. It would be MK who would score the winner, as OT approached its end and the dreaded penalty shots loomed, Leigh Jamieson was found clear infront of the net by Jordan Cownie to score the winner with just 52sec left in the extra period.
Verdict: A real tough loss to take and, you could see the pain on the Phoenix players as they left the ice. A game in which they dominated for the most part, somehow they ended up losing the game. It was genuinely a result in which the Phoenix can feel hard done by. On top for the majority but it is MK who take the win. The point gained from an OT loss feels much more like a loss than a point gained. Credit to MK though, they took their chances, forced their way back into the game at the end of the third and, took the golden chance in OT. That's how hockey goes some times!