The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Phoenix Rolling - MK Lightning 21/02/16

Another tough weekend ticked off the list for the Phoenix, facing last seasons League champions then, one of the leagues form teams and current challengers for the EPL title the MK Lightning. Phoenix fans would be forgiven for looking at the weekend and not expecting much by way of points but, for me, the home games vs MK would be the Phoenix best chance of some points. 

Saturday night in Telford saw the Phoenix run into penalty trouble with some questionable calls, 3 of the Tigers 7 goals coming with the extra skater the short benched Phoenix just not having enough to stem the flow of goals. Tigers running out 7-2 victors: 

Sunday, time to re-group and take on the well rested MK Lightning at Deeside. Of the teams at the top of the EPL the Phoenix probably, have the better record against the MK Lightning. Coming into sunday nights game, Phoenix/MK had played each other a total of 5 times with Phoenix having two wins (one in OT) and MK three (with one being in OT). Phoenix icing with just James Archer missing from the lineup and the Lightning, dressing but not icing McPherson and Jarventie. 

First Period: Despite the differences in the rosters the opening period saw little difference on the ice. The game opened at a great pace with some great play from both sides. It was the Phoenix who made the early hey and saw Dean Skinns deny Michal Satek after a slick passing move. Steve Fone was then forced into making numerous saves to keep the Lightning at bay, Lewis Hook and Jordan Cownie being two frustrated by Fone. In an end to end but tight game, the first goal was something straight from slapshot. Mark Thomas brought the puck out from the Phoenix zone into centre ice, as both teams were changing lines he lifted a puck towards the MK goal just to create some time for the changing players. Much to everyone's surprise, both on and off the ice, that puck deceived Skinns and went into the MK net. One to watch again on Phoenix TV, absolutely no one on the ice thought much of it, so took an age for everyone to realise it had gone in! Perhaps some hockey Karma coming back the Phoenix way? That goal timed at 19min 17sec. 

Second Period: MK upped their game in the second and the Phoenix rose to match it. This created a more open end to end period with chances galore. Hook again going close for the Lightning only to miss his chance. The Phoenix extended their lead shortly after when Stan Gron executed a perfect pass across the net for Jacob Corson Heron to score mid flight at 25min 32sec. Listen to the Phoenix podcast and the interview with JCH at the end for his thoughts on his goal. Robin Kovar then made it 3-0 when he and Baranek broke free up ice to beat Skinns. Rather harshly, Pete Russell chose this moment to yank Skinns and put Jordan Marr in goal, a little unfortunate really! Perhaps that was the spark that was needed as, MK got their own goal in the period when Hook found Emersic, that man always scores against the Phoenix, to get MK back in the game at 31min 57sec. 

Third Period: 3-1 with just a period to go was quickly made 3-2 when Bobby Chamberlain found a gap under Fone's pads at 41min 06sec to reduce the deficit to one goal. The Phoenix needed to work hard and stand up to the MK onslaught. Unable to convert on a 5-on-3 opportunity the Phoenix looked to endure a nervous final session but, on the back of a superb performance from Fone the home side finished the job to close-out a good win! 

Verdict: A tough weekend and the Phoenix managed a win from it, probably as much as we could have hoped for. The MK Lightning are a very good team but, one I do fancy the Phoenix doing well against. It was a superb all round game from the Phoenix, outshot and outchanced the Phoenix soaked up the pressure and took the chances when they came. A great reward and, a glimpse of what could have been this season!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Phoenix Rolling - Guildford Flames 14/02/16

The season marches on and waits for now one, the Phoenix weekend saw a trip along the M62 to visit the Hull Pirates and the most versatile arena in the country. This before welcoming the Flames in the latest instalment of the pyron derby. 

Saturdays away trip saw a clinical Phoenix race out to a 6-0 lead into the third period, the Pirates would get a consolation goal but the Phoenix would head back with the two points. Possibly securing their playoff hopes too. 

Two points in the bag, the weekend was already a good one for the Phonix. With our season going the way it is, to get 50% of the points available will do for me! Plus, the last time we played the Flames we stole the win so, you never know! What would be certain would be an entertaining game. Both teams lined up on the blue line with similar numbers actually but, the Flames quality across the roster was evident. This would, again, be a tough game for the Phoenix to get some points. 

First Period: The game opened with speed, as they always do! The Phoenix would then fall foul of some questionable officiating calls, Martin Baranek was called for tripping which gave the Flames the advantage. The games first goal followed on the resulting powerplay when Ozolins was found free in acres of space on the back post, with about half the goal free, he lit the lamp at 4min 33sec. The Phoenix fought back with Stan Gron getting a few chances close to Richard Ullberg but sadly not able to convert. 

Second Period: Phoenix were on the board early in the second period when Phil Hamer intercepted the puck and released Trent Hope who unleashed an awesome shot to score at 24min 28sec. The game continued to swing from side to side and, sadly for the Phoenix, the questionable officials continued to baffle the home fans and Phoenix players. Flames would re-take the lead on another powerplay opportunity when Jez Lundin fired home 4 seconds into the powerplay at 25min 41sec. Midway through the period the Flames were given a penalty shot, probably a fair call to be honest. Ozolins with the chance and was denied by Fone with an excellent pad save. Phoenix clambered back into the game and began to force their own chances, the highlight being a post hit by James Neil. 

Third Period: The score was 2-1 Guildford so plenty of time for the Phoenix to get back into the game. That hope was quickly extinguished when the Flames opened up a two goal lead at 41min 39sec when Tom Duggan scored. Satek offered some hope when he scored off a feed from Stan Gron at 43min 14sec.  With 10min to go the Flames sealed the game. Two quick goals from Andy McKinney at 50min 13sec and 51min 57sec saw the game won. Janis Ozolins would get his second of the night on a breakaway goal at 56min 58sec to make it 6-2 Guildford. 

Verdict: It was disappointing to see the game slip away so much in the third period despite all the hard work in the first 40mins. That being said, the Flames were good for the win. The strength in depth meant they could roll strong lines across the board than the Phoenix. Plus they were more clinical than the Phoenix, chances were there for the home side but, they werent being put away. Had Gron had more luck he could have had a hattrick on his own. With the win in Hull the night before, it wasnt a catastrophic loss, disappointing but not the end of the world!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Phoenix Rolling - Sheffield Steeldogs 06/02/16

Last weekend was quite an important one for the Phoenix, on the ice at least! Over the two days they would be playing the team directly above them in the table (Sheffield) and the team at the foot of the EPL (Bracknell). In the fight for the last couple of playoff spots it could turn out to be a pivotal weekend in that fight. Saturday saw a rare home game for the Phoenix as they entertained the Sheffield Steeldogs, followed by a Sunday away day to face the Bracknell Bees. 

Sheffield came to Deeside in 7th place and, for the past month or so, possibly the form team of the EPL. Sheffield were always a hard working team but, this years roster has some added bite (ahem). Big comeback wins against the likes of MK spring to mind. Plus a come from behind win in PS against the Phoenix a week or so ago. Saturday nights game would be tough all round but, one the Phoenix could still win! 

First Period: The game opened up with both sides gaining some early chances, Fone and Sedlar in action early. The visitors looked the more likely to score however and, just after the 5min mark the Steeldogs took the lead. At 5 minutes the Steeldogs combined to light the lamp, Hirst and Duncombe combined to provide Lascek with the opportunity and he took it. The Phoenix remained well in the game but were coming up against Sedlar who was in fine form. Moving into the 2nd half of the period Jacob Corson-Heron picked up a 2 minute minor for high sticking. Andy Hirst, set up by Lascek and Squires converted on the extra man advantage to put the Steeldogs up 2-0 by the end of the first period. 

Second Period: I must admit, even at this early stage, with the Steeldogs ahead by two, I did not see much chance of the Phoenix getting a result. The Steeldogs are a very hard working team and, when they have a lead, are able to sit on it and defend. The second period followed a similar pattern to the first, Phoenix competing and creating chances only to be denied by Sedlar. Sheffield able to soak up the pressure then change up a gear when needed. Sheffield got the first goal of the period when some excellent play released Ashley Calvert who pinged a shot in off the post to give the Steeldogs a 3-0 lead. The third goal coming at 23min 05sec. The Phoenix finally got on the board approaching the games half way point. Kovar and Gron combined to find Satek clear on the back post who scored at 28min 18sec. Sheffield then sealed the game over a four minute spell, Bosas came up with two goals to put Sheffield 5-1 up. The first coming at 30min 12sec, then with the aid of a deflection made it 5 at 34min 14sec. As the period ticked down the Phoenix did score a consolation goal when Stan Gron weaved his way his way through the Sheffield defence and score at 39min 29sec. 

Third Period: With the score at 5-2 Sheffield the points were settled, pride was at stake now. With the result looking all but a formality the Phoenix still worked hard and gave Sheffield a game. That hard work paid off when Jacob Corson-Heron tipped in a pass from Gron to make the score 5-3 at 45min 21sec. Sheffield were able to respond and settle the game, deservedly too, with two goals late in the game. Ben Morgan fired home a superb shot at 54min 19sec and Lascek got a goal soon after. At 55min 42sec his goal making the final score 7-3 Sheffield. 

Verdict: A disappointing loss seeing as though the Phoenix were more than equal in the game. Sheffield, though, deserved the win, they work very hard in their own zone to frustrate the opposition, they were able to soak up the Phoenix pressure and Sedlar gave them the basis from which to work. It did seem like Sheffield had a gear or two spare and were able to utilise that when ever the Phoenix got close.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Phoenix Rolling - Basingstoke Bison 31/01/16

Last weekend was a big big test for the rejuvenated Manchester Phoenix, a 3 in 3 game spell which would see the Phoenix play, the leagues in-form team, and the leagues top two teams. Away to the Sheffield Steeldogs friday night the Phoenix would play the team sat above them in the EPL and a team in form and pulling off some great comebacks in recent games. After that, the not so insignificant task of playing the EPL's no.2 squad in the Thunderdome, then the small matter of a game against the EPL leading Basingstoke Bison at the WMMP. 

Friday saw the Phoenix go to Sheffield, and come away, frustratingly, with a penalty shootout loss to the Steeldogs. Phil Spanswick started and finished the game in goal for the Phoenix. By all accounts this was a game we should have won, backed by a superb effort in the net from Spanswick the Phoenix let slip a two goal lead in the last 3 minutes to surrender the W. No goals in OT lead to lottery of a shootout which, on this occasion, did not turn out for the Phoenix. Away in MK the story was reversed, going into the final few minutes it was the Phoenix who pulled back into the game and forced the extra session, netting the winner the Phoenix left with an improbable win. Three points from two games coming into sundays game versus the Bison, I think most Phoenix fans would have taken that prior to puck drop! 

First Period: Fans around the EPL know that the Bison are one physical team, the Phoenix were treated to that from the first puck drop. Much of it legal, a hell of a lot of it.....less so. The visitors showed from the first minute why they are currently top of the EPL, such strength in depth and awesome pace going forward. It was a quick break down the right wing which brought the games first goal, timed 2min 05sec. After Fone attempted a glove save, it seemed like he thought he had the puck. In reality it had gone behind the net for Balmer to then circle the net, pass out to the front where Ryan Watt was on hand to score. Phoenix tried to get back into the game and put some pressure on Baston, who came up with a fantastic double save from Wood and Kovar. Bison made it 2-0 at 15min 33sec when Joe Greener found the largest 5-hole in the EPL to score. Two goals in the period which, on balance, Fone will want back. He bails us out of so many games its ok to let a few go every now and then. Throughout the period, Mical Satek had been receiving alot of 'attention' from the Bison, all of which culminated in Ryan Watt and Ciaran Long both picking up penalties at the end of the period. Much of the attention given to Satek was less than legal and, if not called, could have lead to some nasty scenes in the game. Not a stellar period from our officials unfortunately! 

Second Period: Phoenix needed a big effort to get back into the game and, got the games next goal. After a neat assist from Gron, Satek scored a great back hand goal at 26min 33sec. Having the quality in depth the Bison do, they were able to absorb that goal and step up to restore their 2 goal advantage. A well worked effot saw Lack and Towalski combine for Karpov to score the Bison 3rd goal at 30min 55sec. The Phoenix refused to give up and kept pressing Baston in the Bison goal. The pressure paid off when, at 32min 45sec, Mark Thomas was found on the point, he lined up a slap shot which knuckle balled perfectly into the top left corner. Given where Phoenix TV is filmed, it should be great to watch again! The period would see a decisive moment going into the last 2 minutes of the period. If the Phoenix could get to the locker room just a goal behind, there was still hope in the game. The Phoenix went for a line change and, as Boothroyd went for the bench door, he had one skate on the ice and one on the bench. Phoenix took possession and were called for too-many-men. The scenario is one that happens in all games, no matter what level, and is rarely called. However, as per the rules, it was the correct call! On the resulting powerplay, the Bison would restore their 2 goal lead and alter the flow of the game. One minute into the powerplay Rene Jarolin scored the Bison 4th goal and, although there were still 20min to go, for me seal the result. 

Third Period: 20 minutes for the Phoenix to score two goals past the EPL's top team, one of the EPL's best goaltenders and a very physical team. Not impossible, just improbable! The Bison did score the next goal of the game and close out the win, more or less, when former Phoenix forward Shaun Thompson scored at 46min 01sec to make it 5-2. The Phoenix did add a consolation goal at 54min 13sec when Robin Kovar blew past the Bison D and picked out the top corner for a highlight reel goal. 

Verdict: A real shame the Phoenix could not get something from the game, on balance an argument could be made for a point for the Phoenix but, the Bison were too good in the end. They were probably the worst team to have as the 3rd game in 3 but, that doesnt get away from the fact they are so damn good. The Phoenix did compete for the entire game but, it did always feel like the Bison had that extra gear in reserve to use when needed. Still, 3 points from that weekend is a great reward for this Phoenix team, many positives to be had!