The Angry Budgie Live

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!

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!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Bracknell Bees 12/14/15

Last weekend was a huge one for the Phoenix, after news crept out about the withdrawal of Red Hockey support the Phoenix now face the possibility of not being able to finish the 15/16 EPL season. Saturday night saw the first leg of the 'War of the Roses' against the Sheffield Steeldogs, a game which was proceeded by a fan forum with Phoenix owner Neil Morris. There has already been coverage of the main points that came from that meeting via twitter/various forums so I won't go into detail. Other than to say, in essence, the Phoenix need £90k to finish the season! The impression I got from the meeting was, if the Phoenix can make it to the end of the season, the future is bright, very bright! 

There are, of course, many fund raising efforts on the go, below I have a summary of what is ongoing and what is to come: 

Phoenix Supporters Trust 
Phoenix Podcast - Ben's Christmas Jumper

Phoenix Podcast - Chris Chirstmas Pants
@Oobze PTID Kickstarter

After all that, there were a few games played! The first leg of the War of the Roses saw both teams playing back up netminders, meaning Phoenix fans got to see Phil Spanswick in action for the first time. The game ended 5-4 to Sheffield which, I will admit, was disappointing. The Phoenix dominated the first two periods but, ran out of steam in the third and Sheffield deservedly worked their way back into the game. Bright spots for the Phoenix were Spanswick having a solid game in goal and, Jacob Corson-Heron dropping the gloves and owning his bought of fisticuffs. 

Onto Sunday and a vitally important game versus the Bracknell Bees. If the Phoenix have any hope of extending their season its games like these they need to win. 

First Period: Despite all the off-ice troubles the Phoenix hit the ice focussed and took the game to the Bees from the first puck drop. Rotating two lines (as that's all they could) the Phoenix kept the shifts short. Bees slowly to give as good as they got and the game settled into end to end hockey. Not the highest of quality but entertaining none the less. The first goal came on the powerplay to the home team. With Matt Foord sitting a 2 minute minor for slashing the Phoenix went on the PP. After cycling the puck, Ben Wood did well to keep it within the offensive zone, he wound up a shot on goal and, via a slight deflection from Robin Kovar the Phoenix took the lead. Goal timed at 11min 36sec. 

Second Period: After their heroics in Swindon the night before, a one goal lead would not do for the Phoenix. The second began and was only 2min old when the Bees pulled level. A piece of excellent play saw Smital thread a pass out from behind Fone to Kostourek in front to fire home via the post. The game levelling goal coming at 22min 13sec. The game continued with neither side able to control for long periods. Fone pulled off a fantastic save from James Galazzi and Mettam responded to deny an awesome attempt from JCH. The Phoenix were then denied two 2-on-1 opportunities towards the end of the period as both teams went in 1-1. 

Third Period: With it all to play for in the third the Phoenix, surprisingly, did not look too tired and really took the game to Bracknell. After Mettam had pulled off a great save to deny Trent Hope, the Phoenix did  score their second goal. James Archer led the puck into the Bees zone and played a drop pass to Kovar who blasted home from the hash marks to give Phoenix the lead at 43min 25sec. Despite taking the lead the Phoenix continued to pile the pressure on Mettam only for the ninja goalie to deny them. Phoenix were, thankfully, able to closeout the period and the game, despite some 'intresting' calls from Perring in the final 5 minutes. 

Verdict: After all the hoo haa off the ice it was so nice to get down to playing some Ice Hockey. Despite the ridiculously short bench the team on the ice played like a 4 line team! They matched the Bees shift for shift and ground out a superb win, a deserved one too! It was so pleasing to see the players come off the ice with a smile on their face and, the victory wave, which has been absent from the WMMP for a while!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Basingstoke Bison 06/12/15

Last night saw a hockey game at the West Manchester Municipal Pool.....other than that......absolutely nothing else happened in the world of Phoenix this past couple of weeks.....nope......nothing! 

Ok, so stuff did happen, im not going to go into it on these pages suffice to say, the only place to hear anything close to 100% accurate will be the latest edition of the Phoenix Podcast. On which Neil Morris gave a frank account of all the goings on with Wayne Scholes and Red Hockey. Tambo will also be conducting an interview with WS this week, which will also appear on the podcast. Either added to next weeks show or put up as a stand along episode. There is also a fan forum in Telford Wednesday night which should also offer up more facts, though that will be entirely Telford Tigers focussed. I urge you all, Phoenix fans or not, please don't go on the forums and engage in the endless speculation that has already appeared. Listen to the interviews and make your own minds up! 

Having said all that, the facts are, the Phoenix are in need of funds to help finish the season. Get your thinking caps on, the club will like to hear any good ideas for fund raising. Buy 50/50 tickets, buy shirt raffle tickets, buy merchandise, they are some of the obvious ways to help a club raise funds. Mike Newton (@oobze on twitter)  famous for the 'Sons of Storm' kickstarter campaign and associated merchandise is starting up another Kickstarter campaign for the Phoenix under the #PTID moniker. Keep an eye on his twitter for updates, I (@theangrybudgie) will retweet anything I see to spread the word! 

Housekeeping done? Check! Onto sunday nights hockey! 

High flying Basingstoke Bison came to Deeside boasting a rather impressive roster. Recently bolstered by the arrival of Rene Jarolin and Jon Baston on injury cover. Despite the different league placing, no game on saturday meant the Phoenix were as fresh as they could be. 

First Period: The game began with some great end to end hockey, both Fone and Baston were called into action early and both able to turn away the opening exchanges. Both sides saw their PP units out onto the ice but could not convert. With play being even through the opening minutes the Bison stunned the home crowd by opening up a 2 goal lead either side of the halfway point in the period. Aaron Connolly got the visitors off the mark at 8min 03sec then, former Phoenix man, Shaun Thompson doubled their lead at 12min 34sec. The Phoenix worked back into the game and began to shade play a little, with Michal Satek being denied by the excellent Baston. 

Second Period: Like the first period, the opening minutes were a little hectic for the Phoenix. Some mad max style defence thwarted the Bison then, after those opening skirmishes the home side settled and came into the game. End to end action once more and, like the first, it was the Bison who would light the lamp first. Tomas Karpov slaloming up the ice and unleashing a pin point shot to Fone's top right corner. Unstoppable arguments here! The Bison 3rd timed at 33min 22sec. Like the first period, the Phoenix worked their way back into the game and, were finally rewarded less than a minute later. Michal Satek finding a gap in Baston's defences off a pass from Kovar timed at 34min 04sec. The Phoenix advance was halted when Trent Hope picked up a slashing penalty giving the Bison the advantage. After some superb play by the Bison Rene Jarolin scored what felt like the game winning goal, the Bison's 4th at 38min 34sec. 

Third Period: No goals were scored in the third period but, the Phoenix put their all into finding a way back. Edging the play during the final 20mins the Phoenix began to set up camp in the Bison goal. Excellent chances fell to Kovar and James Neil but, as he had been doing all game and against the Phoenix when playing for Hull, Baston shut the door and closed out the game. 

Verdict: After a tumultuous week the Phoenix hit the ice and put in a very good performance against an excellent Bison side. A 4-1 loss is still a loss but, given the Bison had hammered Telford 7-0 the night before, 4-1 is a good result. One thing that is sure, this team will give its all week in week out, no matter what is going on off the ice. Just wish the scoreboard would reflect that effort a bit more!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Phoenix Rolling - Peterborough Phantoms 22/11/15

The weather turned this past weekend, the cold winds were blowing in, the first weekend of proper hockey weather. That meaning those mad few of us would, in the freezing wind, go and sit inside an ice rink for a few hours of a sunday evening. Sunday in the West Manchester Municipal Pool saw the Phoenix host the Peterborough Phantoms a game which, personally speaking, I would be delighted if the Phoenix managed to get a point from! Just being realistic! The Phantoms have a better/deeper squad and, possibly, have been the best team I have seen against the Phoenix so far this season! 

Saturday the Phoenix made the trip, once again, down to Swidon for what seems like the umpteenth time in a couple of weeks! Traditionally not a place the Phoenix have done well in so again, a point would be nice. Early signs were not good when the Wildcats raced to a 4-1 lead by the end of the second. But, credit the Phoenix they worked hard and, with less than a minute to go, made it 4-3. While still a loss, it was a great (almost)comeback and one which made the scoreline look a little more respectable. 

First Period: In some long awaited good news the Phoenix started the game with Gareth O'Flaherty back on the ice, the extra skater really making a difference as the Phoenix came out the traps quickly. Despite the Phantoms superior strength and depth it was the Phoenix who created the first chance, when Kovar was denied by Auzins. The Phantoms were then handed 1min 50sec of 5 on 3 when Mark Thomas, then Luke Boothroyd were sent to the penalty box in quick succession. 5-on-3 against the Phantoms, it would only be a matter of time before the breakthrough was made? In the end the Phoenix defended the short handed period perfectly, denying the Phantoms. Michal Satek standing out on the point of the triangle not giving the 'quarterback's on the blue line a chance to shoot. That gave the Phoenix some excellent momentum, they had their own PP a few minutes later, with Will Weldon in the box on a hooking call the Phoenix set up in the Phantoms zone. Cycling the puck round, Nico Aaltonen found Ben Wood free in front of goal who cooly slotted past Auzins for the games first goal, time at 9min 53sec. Into the second half of the period and the Phantoms began to get going. A quickfire double silenced the home crowd, Milan Baranyk and Ales Padalek giving the visitors the lead with goals at 12min 05sec and 12min 26sec. The first a poor rebound given up by Fone, all the Phoenix D being tied up giving Baranyk oodles of time to round Fone, wait for him to commit, then slot into the empty net. The second goal a long shot from the point which saw the faintest of deflections to deceive Fone. The news from the first period did not get any better when Stan Gron had an awkward collision with Martins Susters which saw Gron remain on the bench with an ice pack to the jaw....he did not return to the game. 

Second Period: There was little goalmouth action in the second period until the very end. Both teams traded chances and, except for the first 5 mins, the Phoenix more than held their own and even dominated for large stretches. It was in the dying moments the Phantoms were able to break up a Phoenix attack, break up ice and score a well worked goal. However, it was immediately washed out for goalie interference, to be fair to Matthews, he was well placed and washed the goal out straight away. Decisive at least! 

Third Period: 20min to go, the Phoenix more than equal, would the home side get a reward for this rather than come up short? They battled hard in the third and again, the difference in roster was not apparent. With Gron off the ice the Phoenix rotated the top line to include all 3 import forwards at a time with Ben Wood, giving some added size and speed. The hard work was rewarded as the period moved into its second half. After Kovar had circled the zone and put in a shot, Nico Aaltonen was on hand to score the rebound with a deft back hand over Auzins. With some of the rebounds Auzins had been giving up it was about time the Phoenix got in there to mop up! Neither side was able to score the winner so, to OT we go! 

Overtime: Overtime began with the Phantoms controlling possession but being unable to camp out in the Phoenix zone. Fone made some excellent saves as the Phoenix pressured to create a turnover. When it came, Michal Satek was released up the boards, with pace to burn he rounded the Phantoms D and, with Auzins committing to the poke check early, was able to flick the puck over and into the net, giving the Phoenix their first OT win in ages! 

Verdict: It feels like I have had to write about good Phoenix performances not getting the deserved result. How refreshing to report that, the good performance was rewarded with a W! The Phoenix more than competed and deserved the win against a very good Phantoms side. The Phantoms are very quick, very slick with the passing and well drilled. Auzins looked a little shakier in the game compared to previous games and the Phoenix took advantage. I thought Auzins 'telegraphed' his poke check in OT, which is not meant to take away from Satek's finish, it truly did deserve to be the game winner!