The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Tales from a Tired Hockey Fan!

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past, nearly two years, you will be aware that the Phoenix have been struggling. After playing one full season in Deeside and, so far, half a season in Blackpool things came to ahead on monday evening of this week. It has been no secret that the Phoenix have been struggling and, the planning permission had begun to drag on the Phoenix new temporary home. 
Last monday saw the Phoenix announce that, with immediate effect, all imports would be released and, the Phoenix would play the remainder of the season at Widnes using the Wild players to make up the roster. You can imagine the shockwaves this sent through the Phoenix fanbase and the hockey community. 

This blog post is not going to deal with the rights and wrongs of the Phoenix saga, neither I, nor any of you readers know enough about the finances of the Phoenix or the planning process to make an informed judgement. No, the point of this post is to talk about the reaction by, not only the Phoenix fanbase but, members of the 'Hockey Family' 

I have been a hockey fan all my life, since I was born, I grew up in a hockey family, even playing the game when I was younger. I was a Devonshire Road Alty fan, then followed (Original) Storm before they went bust. I was a member of the FOMIH which was formed immediately after the Storm's demise and, the same group which helped set up the Phoenix. I have been a Phoenix supporter through thick and thin, recent seasons being thinner than most! I remained a Phoenix fan when Storm v2 was formed, even though they would have been more convenient for me personally to follow. I do not begrudge any fan who made the jump but, things I believe meant I could not support them in Altrincham, I have never agreed with the bought history of the club. But, I have no problem with those who made the jump or, those who returned to watch them. Everyone is entitled to support who they want! 

No, the point of this blog, is to talk about what it has been like to be a Phoenix fan, talk about what its like to have had so much mud slung at my club from fellow hockey 'fans' that I could build a new country. To have been told things by people I trust which, would shock many. No, this is the life of a Phoenix fan. 

Lets get a few things out of the way first, I am a dyed in the wool Phoenix fan so, if you think everything I say is rose tinted, good for you! Its also been a long time since I wrote anything for my blog so, I apologise if it seems disjointed for example. I am also not going to try and justify anything the Phoenix have done or not done! We pride ourselves, as hockey fans, that the sport is inclusive and, like a family, that we all care for one another and, as fans of a minority sport, have each others backs. Its a big reason I like to use to impress upon people why they should try hockey out instead of football. 

It really all began back on that fateful saturday night in Coventry when, just after the Phoenix had qualified for sundays final a statement was put on THF explaining that, effectively, Planet Ice/Silverblades were kicking the Phoenix out of Altrincham. Naturally this went down like a lead balloon in the Phoenix fanbase and, set the worrying in motion. It also quickly revealed a split in the 'Hockey Family' seemingly many people had been itching for a reason to hate the Phoenix and, more than likely hate Neil Morris. The knives were out and, the now infamous thread on a certain hockey forum began its life Following hot on the heels of that bonbshell was the announcement that PISB would be resurrecting the Storm and returning them to the ice in Altrincham. As I said before, a large portion of the Phoenix fan base were fans of (Original) Storm so this was a second shock to the system. The resurrection of the Storm and, the seemingly 'purchase' of (Original) Storm's history angered alot of people. I will admit, PISB's actions and, this purchase of a clubs history is a main reason why I will never set foot in Altrincham or support (New) Storm. 

This now left the Phoenix homeless and, the hard life of a Phoenix fan really began. This is where it felt like the 'Hockey Family' began to break down and, certain very vocal sections starting to take aim at the Phoenix and Neil Morris. For those of us who chose to remain and support the Phoenix, this is when the attacks really began. Seemingly every step from then on, that the Phoenix took, was belittled and ridiculed on social media and hockey forums. Other fans, looked to start taking great pleasure in the hardship now faced by the club. They seemed to enjoy taking shots at the Phoenix fans, even personal attacks against Neil Morris and some Phoenix fans I know well. The Keyboard warriors truly coming out in force! 

So we spent a season travelling to Deeside, hoping that plans for a temporary rink would materialise. It was tiring travelling to North Wales every week but, we did it anyway. I wanted to support my team, see my friends and, bring you the best balcony based podcast in sports! But, the sniping from the trolls, the travel, and the frustrations with the new rink process, and the club almost collapsing from the withdrawl of Red Hockey really took it out of me and I was glad to see the end of the season! We had survived, against incredible odds! As we went into the summer, that feeling of relief slowly gave way to yet more frustration. Planning delays lengthened and, it was decided the Phoenix would play up in Fylde for the start of the season. This news fed the troll machine and the keyboard warriors. Their attacks continuing and becoming down right nasty in some cases. Whether you like the Phoenix or not, whether you hate Neil Morris or not, some of the bile and vitriol being meted out in the Phoenix direction was truly horrible. All this takes a toll on your emotions and love for your club and the sport. 

We could live with Fylde, as more concrete news was appearing about the rink but, that too was not without its problems. We went into christmas with still no green light and, players being released and not replaced. Which brings us, more or less, to the press release last monday. 
The Phoenix would release all their imports, including the legend that is Robin Kovar, and see out the rest of the season in Widnes, a PISB facility. In some eyes, this is the Phoenix cutting their cloth to survive, to others, this was confirmation of lies told by Neil Morris and the Manchester Phoenix. With keyboard warriors, ex players, all taking shots this is possibly the first time ive been truly shocked and saddened by the 'Hockey Family'

Even with the move to Widnes and, without a puck having been dropped, the Phoenix are being blamed. Being blamed for 'muscling in' and 'confiscating' the Womans hockey team of ice time. Come on people? It is Silverblades who decide who gets what ice time in their own facility, and the game in question had been cancelled before the Phoenix arrived! Talk about the 'Hockey Family'!

The sheer level of hate that has been directed at the Phoenix has lead to a position I never thought I would get to with hockey, fatigue and a lack of love for the game. Hockey is my life, the Phoenix have been the team I have supported the longest (following the lineage from (Original) Storm) my motto has always been 'Hockey ain't just a game, its a way of life' My wife, in essence had to get into hockey if she wanted to see me when we were dating, she is now as mad a hockey fan as I am. 

But, and this is the big one, For nearly two years, the mud slinging, the bashing, the hate, the vitriol that has been sent the Phoenix way, rightly or wrongly, is severely testing my love of the game. Im tired, im tired of the keyboard warriors, tired of the travelling, tired of having my loyalty tested, tired seeing the effect the baseless attacks have on close friends, just tired, tired of the 'Hockey Family'. As ever it is only the minority but, it seems the minority shout the loudest. I have made some amazing friends at other clubs in the UK, most of those have shown amazing levels of support and, this week, they have shown support again. To those of you, thank you! 

What im left with is the very unenviable position of, if the Phoenix went bust, if the Manchester Phoenix became the Widnes Phoenix...what do I do? I will not go to Altrincham and, im not going to go to Widnes every week. For the first time in my life, I think I may give up supporting a UK hockey team and throw my allegiances fully behind the Arizona Coyotes. 

Yours.......a very tired Phoenix fan!

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: 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2748/telford-take-advantage-penalty-decisions 
http://www.tigershockeyuk.com/2016/02/tigers-continue-charge-with-victory-over-phoenix/ 

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! 




http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2749/solid-defensive-display-secures-phoenix-play-place 
http://mk-lightning.co.uk/report-phoenix-3-2-lightning-21-feb/

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. 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2744/phoenix-claim-clinical-win-hull 

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! 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2745/phoenix-burnt-late-flames 
http://www.guildfordflames.com/february_14th_v_manchester_phoenix___league

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. 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2742/steeldogs-claim-roses-honours 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2742/steeldogs-claim-roses-honours 
http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/bracknellbeesicehockeyclub/news/bracknell-bees-2--3-manchester-phoenix-1564536.html

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! 



http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2736/sheffield-claim-roses-honours-shootout 

http://mk-lightning.co.uk/report-lightning-4-5-manchester-phoenix-aot-30-jan/ 
http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2737/phoenix-stage-comeback-win-mk 

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! 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2739/phoenix-come-short-league-leaders

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. 

http://www.guildfordflames.com/january_23rd_v_manchester_phoenix___league 
http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2733/phoenix-find-late-equaliser-lose-ot 

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! 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2734/phoenix-overcome-hull-third-period-blitz 
http://www.hullpirates.co.uk/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=31

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. 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2728/phoenix-blanked-basingstoke 

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! 

http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2729/five-star-phoenix-blow-swindon-away 
http://www.swindonwildcats.com/news/720/phoenix-depose-wildcats.html#.VpOox9LtlHw 
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/sport/14194588.BUZZER_REPORT__Manchester_Phoenix_5_Swindon_Wildcats_0/