The Angry Budgie Live

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Phoenix Rolling - Hull Pirates 26/01/16

The improving on ice fortunes of the Phoenix would be tested with a tough away trip to the Guildford Flames followed up by the visit of the Hull Pirates. The Pirates are a much changed team since the one that began the season and, in the games in WMMP the Pirates have had the upper hand, with an OT and regulation victory. The away trip to Guildford, personally I did not expect much, but the current uptick in form gave hope. In the end a late equiliser in the 3rd lead to the Phoenix securing an extra point, with the Flames taking the 2nd with a winner in overtime, final score 4-3. 

A huge amount of credit/thanks must go to the Flames organisation and fans, in an effort to help the Phoenix out they held an auction for a Tom Duggan game worn shirt. At the end of the night, a massive £621 was raised and given to the Phoenix Supporters Trust. A big big big thank you Guildford!!!! 

Sunday saw the Hull Pirates come to West Manchester and, prior to the game, a fan forum was held prior to the game where Phoenix owner Neil Morris updated the fans on the fund raising efforts and the future Phoenix plans. Please, please, please, do not form your opinion from The Hockey Forum or twitter, please wait for a club press release (if one will be released) or, listen to the Phoenix Podcast where Chris Beasley (who did attend the meeting) sums up what was said. 

Anyway, the visit of the Chocolimes....sorry Hull Pirates.....less Limey these days but still a very difficult team to beat! Phoenix, for the first time (at the WMMP) since about pre-season were able to ice a full roster! James Neil the latest back to the ice after his awful rib injury. 

First Period: With the renewed energy the Phoenix have been playing with the past couple of weeks the Phoenix came out the traps flying. Robin Kovar and James Neil having early chances for the Phoenix only to be denied by Raitums. Beginning the season the Pirates had Baston in goal, possibly one of the best goaltenders we have seen in the EPL. After his departure to Basingstoke there was always the worry about the guy coming into those pads. Raitums is a more than worthy replacement. His early showing in the period suggested it could be another long night for the home side. After the initial Phoenix flurry, Hull came back into the game and started carving out their own chances forcing Fone into a couple of excellent saves. The Phoenix had to be clever in their chances to get past Raitums. A Kovar tip in front of goal just went wide the, an acrobatic back hand effort from Satek hit the side of the goal. The period ended scoreless, with Fone facing 6 shots and Raitums 15. 

Second Period: The intensity increased in the second period as both sides tried to get the first goal. The game set up to follow a pattern, Phoenix with the possession, Hull defending brilliantly looking to pick the Phoenix off on the breakaway. Tommi Lain had the first effort on the breakout but was denied by Fone. Phoenix hit back with chances falling to Baranek and Gron only for Raitums to come up big. Natham Salem to two excellent opportunities on the breakaway but, like Raitums, Fone was in top form. Baranek had two chances where he picked the puck up on the right wing, blew past the left sided defenceman, only to then attempt lifting the puck over Raitums, but also over the net. Excellent chances but neither resulting in a goal. Like the first, the second ended scoreless, Fone facing 10 shots and Raitums 16shots. 

Third Period: Well, it all went off in the third period! With Sam Towner in the box on a 2 min tripping penalty the Phoenix went on the powerplay. After cycling the puck round to Satek behind the goal, James Neil pinched in unnoticed on the back post, Satek quickly moved the puck side to side and out from behind, quick enough for James Neil to score into the empty side of the net. A superb team goal and well finished by Neil,  the goal timed at 42min 31sec. The Phoenix then doubled their lead, Phoenix again with the puck in the Hull zone, the puck was passed out to the blueline, where Ben Wood lined up an accurate slap/pass to the far post, when James Archer was ghosting in to tip the shot past Raitums, goal no.2 at 45min 08sec. The Phoenix third line was contributing too, Jacob Corson-Heron pulling off a superb wraparound only for Raitums to just about close the pads over the puck in time. It as in the ensuing melee that Corson-Heron and Nathan Salem dropped the gloves and had a disagreement, both getting 2+2 for fighting. Raitums produced some more fine saves from Kovar and Satek before the game saw its second scrap. After a good hit from Thomas, he and Pasi Salonen had a scrap in the Phoenix zone, both getting 2+2 for fighting and Salonen getting an extra 2 for roughing. The Phoenix imports would combine to score the Phoenix third and close out the game, Satek finding Gron to score at 56min 47sec. A superb 3-0 win for Phoenix, Raitums facing 13 shots in the final session, Fone facing 12, to complete a 28 shot shutout. 

Verdict: The Phoenix revival continues with a good good win against a tough Pirates team. Hull, in their previous two visits to the WMMP, picking up a win each time, had to be beaten to stop the sweep on home ice. Throughout the game the Phoenix looked in control and dangerous on the attack. The extra bodies on the bench really helping the recovery of injuries and just, in game fitness. Baranek is really finding his feet and his afterburners, Phil Hamer picking up more and more speed each game. There really is a sense of optimism around the rink which was sadly missing over the festive period!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Phoenix Rolling - Swindon Wildcats 10/01/16

This past weekend saw the Phoenix face yet another tough weekend in the EPL. Saturday night saw a trip down to Bison land to take on a team in great form this season. The Phoenix saw Baranek icing again but, were without James Neil and Phil Hamer. Reports from the game suggest it was not a good night at the office for the Phoenix, the scoreline backing that assumption up, Phoenix coming away with a 5-0 drubbing. Head on over to Banners on the Wall for a write up on the game. 

Sunday night at the West Manchester Municipal Pool saw the Wildcats head into Deeside. The Phoenix would see Phil Hamer make his debut and, although he didn't play, James Neil took warm up before the puck drop suggesting his recovery is well on course. 

First Period: For the first time in a very long time the Phoenix were starting a game able to roll 3 forward lines, coming into the game though, against a good Wildcats side you would still have fancied the visitors to get the win. Imagine our surprise that, right from the first puck drop it was the Phoenix who took the initiative. For the first 5 minutes of the game the Phoenix played a high and aggressive forecheck which forced the Wildcats into their own zone. The pressure continued and, it was a goalmouth scramble which yielded the games first goal. At 10min exactly Trent Hope would pounce on a loose puck to put the Phoenix ahead. The chances continued to fall for the Phoenix and, Jacob Corson-Heron was unlucky to extend the lead minutes later only to be denied by Lyle. Swindon began to edge back into the game and Carlo Finucci forced Fone into a great stop to keep the visitors at bay. The Phoenix doubled their lead at 14min 41sec when Michal Satek and James Archer raced up ice on a 2 on 1. Archer with the puck held, held and held, gave Lyle the passing eyes who took the bait opening up the top corner. Archer unleashed a pin point shot to give the Phoenix a two goal lead. 

Second Period: After a superb second period the Phoenix had to make it a second superb period to have a chance of closing out the game. The Phoenix pressure, remarkably, continued in the early stages as it wasn't until the halfway point until the Wildcats put their first shot in on Steve Fone. That sparked an avalanche of Wildcats pressure in a mad spell the visitors registered 15 shots on Fone but, the Phoenix netminder turned them all away. One goal did come in the period, with the puck bobbling toward the Wildcats blue line, Kovar was on hand to poke check the puck through the Defenceman's leg's and raced clear in on Lyle, after a neat wiggle of the shoulders he slid the puck home. Making it 3-0 Phoenix at 34min 34sec. 

Third Period: 40min down 20min to go, the Phoenix needed to play a solid, no mistakes game to close out a deserved win. All the while keeping some of the best offensive talent in the EPL at bay. Usually the third period sees the Phoenix start to suffer from the short bench. This time, maybe it was the addition of Phil Hamer to the bench? Maybe it was Baranek and Kovar establishing a telepathic connection? Maybe it was all that, plus two period of hockey which meant the Phoenix will still going and largely on top in the game. In the first 10mins of the game the Phoenix made it 4. James Archer taking a shot from the blueline which Satek tipped on the way through to beat Stevie Lyle, goal timed at 43min 29sec. A 5th soon followed when Satek scored his second of the game from a superb drop pass from Gron, finding the same top right corner of Lyle's net James Archer found earlier in the game. It was at this point Lyle was changed for Jordan Hedley. The Phoenix pressured Headley in the closing moments but were not able to add any more goals. 

Verdict: What a win, and a deserved one too! I remember commenting on the Phoenix Podcast in the first intermission that, the 1st period was possibly the best i'd seen the Phoenix play this season. Then, in the second intermission, it was same again. It was genuinely the best 60mins of hockey I think ive seen in Deeside. Kovar/Baranek is a partnership which, if both stay fit, could fire the Phoenix into the playoffs. Phil Hamer looks to be a great addition, he looked a little rusty and slow(ish) but many years or inline hockey can mean it takes a while to adjust back to ice. That being said, early signs are his presence on the 3rd line with Hope and Corson-Heron elevates that line to a new level. A word also must go to Ben Russell and Trent Hop, the latter getting a deserved Man-of-the-Match award, who both turned in games of the season! 

Given all the negativity around the Phoenix this season and, the losses that have mounted up recently, last night was a breath of fresh, positive air! It felt really good driving back east on the M56 that's for sure!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Phoenix Rolling - Hull Pirates 03/01/16

2016, a new year, hopefully a more positive one for the Phoenix. After the home game v Telford after Christmas was cancelled the home support have had an enforced break from Hockey. Last night saw the home season get back underway after the Chrismtas/New Year period. The visitors to the WMMP this time were the Hull Pirates, their last visit saw the Pirates get their first win of the season with an OT success. Hopefully this time round the Phoenix would come out on top. 

Saturday night saw the Phoenix take the drive down the Shropshire and take on their former Red Hockey brothers the Tigers. In what sounded like a close game, with end to end hockey, at least for the Phoenix, was spoilt by a less than balanced officiating performance in the final stanza. It comes to something when, the excellent, commentary team for the game (with slight understandable Tigers bias) were talking about the Phoenix being 'shafted' by the calls! Either way the game ended with a tight 4-3 win for the home side but, an encouraging performance from the Phoenix. 

After making his debut for the Phoenix in Telford the night before, sunday saw Martin Baranek take to home ice for the first time. Baranek coming in to fill the boots of Nico Aaltonen who had to leave due to personal circumstances. Thank you Nico and I hope all is well for you! 

First Period: The Phoenix and Pirates faced off and got the opening period off to a quick start. Some good end to end hockey saw Fone and Raitums called into early action. The home side began to exert some control on the game looking, almost a completely different team to the past couple of weeks. Its amazing what can happen with a new player icing and the return of an old favourite. Kovar and Gron having some good early chances only to be denied by both Raitums and the pipework! A goal would come in the opening session and, one for the home side. Stanislav Gron was fed by Ben Wood racing up the left wing, Gron unleashed an awesome shot from the left circle which beat Raitums and hit the top corner of the net. The Phoenix ahead at 17min 42sec. 

Second Period: Both teams traded chances and goals in the second period. Defence was not a strong point for either team in the game! Its a wonder why both are to the bottom of the table ;). Hull brought themselves level in the game when Tommi Laine scored after a mad scramble round the net, that goal timed at 26min 40sec. The Phoenix then had a run of PP opportunities without success but, after returning to even strength Kovar found Baranek from behind Raitums net, Baranek then finding the top corner to score the Phoenix second and his first on home ice, the goal timed at 36min 13sec. That lead would last all of a minute and a half, the Pirates tenacity forcing the Phoenix into an error and Warren Tait levelling the game once again at 37min 45sec. 

Third Period: It was Hull who took the initiative in the final period, just 25 sec in Natham Salem skating up ice along the right wing and nailing a shot past Fone, 40min 25sec with fans still taking their seats! That prompted a response from the home side who upped the pressure. James Archer hitting the post, Baranek also rang the metal work. It was 42min 23sec when the puck found Ben Wood on the blue line who ripped a wrist shop goalwards only for Michael Satek to tip the puck and divert it past Raitums to level the game. That goal lifted the Phoenix and it would be Gron who hit the pipework next. Hull had Tom Ralph ejected for a high stick penalty (match) on O'Flaherty, Gareth did return to the game so, Ralph's penalty should be downgraded. Baranek got his second goal of the game, and gave the Phoenix the lead at 46min 32sec on a superb back hand effort. In a theme of the game James Archer was once again denied by the pipework later on. As mentioned above, defencive performance was not good from either side and, it would be turnover errors that would cost the game for the Phoenix. After turning over the puck in the Pirates zone the Phoenix conceeded two quick fire goals to give the Pirates the regulation win. Lee Bonner equilised at 58min 01sec before Tommi Laine fired his second of the night at 58min 47sec. Game ending with a 5-4 win for Hull. 

Verdict: Lets deal with the positives first, with the addition of Baranek and Gron returning the Phoenix looked a different, more positive, team to that of the past few weeks. Hopefully when Phil Hamer suits up and the return of James Neil from long term injury, the Phoenix should look something like a complete team! Sadly, sunday night and especially the third period was filled with defensive errors. 4 of Hull's 5 goals were breakaway efforts, 2 of which came from turnovers in the offensive zone. Last nights game should have been one we targeted for a win, a much much needed one in recent weeks. So to lose, and lose in the fashion we did was very very disappointing! I know I should feel positive about the club, especially after the new additions but, the drive home from the WMMP was a frustrating one!