The Angry Budgie Live

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 4 Young Guns Return

The Phoenix continue their re-build by added two of the EPL's promising young players in Jack Watkins and Jacob Corson-Heron. Both guys who had quiet years for the Phoenix last season but, improved over the course of the season. Mainly playing on the third line Jack and Jacob worked hard with each shift they got and, towards the end of the season, saw increased ice time as a result. Every team needs young British talent on the roster, those youngsters will always play on the 2nd or 3rd lines. Jack and Jacob's return is another part of last seasons championship winning team locked up. 

Phoenix Press Release

Jacob Corson-Heron 
Jacob spent the early part of the season on the bench or seeing little ice time. Being a small player he did find life in the EPL a little tough this past season but, as the season passed, so did his confidence, performance and ice time. While Jacob only scored 3 points for his season, the majority of the fan base were happy with him. His performances in the title run in and the playoffs sold many fans on Jacob. He is a very quick winger, willing to get stuck in on plays with much bigger opposition, sometimes without reward. But, that is the type of play that fans and coaches see, Tony must have been pleased to sign him up for another season! 

Jack Watkins 
Jack came to the Phoenix to play games and play with Tony Hand. After a few years in the EIHL with Dundee/Hull and a few games for Coventry. Jack returned to the league he last saw in 2010/11 when he iced for the Telford Tigers. Jack has a similar game to Jacob but there is a bit more to him. A bigger guy Jack seemed to handle the rough and tumble of the EPL better than Jacob to begin with. Finishing with 7gls and 8asst Jack played on the Phoenix 3rd line and worked well with the other guys. A fan favourite and well liked amongst the Phoenix roster his return is another good addition to the squad.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 3 Boots 'n' Arch

The champion Manchester Phoenix roster rebuild continues apace with the return of two Phoenix favourites and stalwarts captain Luke Boothroyd and assistant James Archer. Both players, Boothroyd especially, could have made the step up to EIHL level. But with the EIHL, seemingly crazy decision to, increase the number of import slots, chances for young Brit's are becoming limited. Anyway, their loss is our gain right? 

Phoenix Press Release

James Archer: 
Every club in the EPL will have players who have stuck around and become part of the furniture. James Archer is one of those players for the Manchester Phoenix. The season just gone was James 4th in the Phoenix colours picking up his 3rd major trophy. Of those 4 years he has worn the 'A' for three of them. James is a quality player who works hard and gives you points from the wing on the second line. He takes his responsibilities seriously and works so so well with Boots being the C and A in tandem. This past title winning season has seen Arch play some fantastic hockey and play the full tally of 54 games in the league. His first time doing so for the Phoenix! His tally of 53 points is down on the previous season but still working out at around a point per game. Archer returning is a solid bit of business for the Phoenix, and for the coming season im sure he will be wearing the 'A' again! My hope for the 14/15 season, for Arch to improve on his PPG! 

Luke Boothroyd: 
Captain fantastic, #Bootherscoringmachine, Luke Boothroyd returns to the Phoenix for his 7th season! Incredible! Having worn the captain's armband for the previous 5 im sure Boother will, once again, captain this team. Boother lead the team to their second league championship this season just gone and, almost, improved on his point production. Boothroyd is a calm and solid player, ideal for your captain, he has a great hockey brain, is tough to move off the puck and very rarely riled! When ever you see Boots drop the gloves, you know someone is in for some pain! Luke is a great guy to talk to off the ice and a guy you would be happy leading the team for as long as he can. Phoenix have retired one number in their history, will retire the no.9 when it happens. Im sure, when the time comes, no.4 will hang from the Ice Dome rafters! My hope for the 14/15 season? More of the same please Boots!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 2 Fone & Ryan

The Phoenix have done well, so far, with their player announcements with most catching many people off guard. The latest announcement has done it once again! 

Phoenix Press Release

The Phoenix welcome Steve Fone back for his 6th year with the Manchester Phoenix, the 2-time title winning goaltender will be back between the pipes to help the Phoenix retain their EPL crown. Joining him and, a bit of a shock, will be ex Tigers stopper Declan Ryan. Ryan, a local lad, is returning to his hometown club after 4 seasons in Shropshire. An awesome goaltending duo! 

Steve Fone 
The 2013/14 vintage Steve Fone was a return to form and excellent performances. It feels like Fone has been around the Phoenix for ages and, is easy to forget he is only 26! Last season saw Fone win his third major title with the Phoenix, his second league championship. Only missing one game Fone posted a GAA of just 2.8, which is 0.05 off his best in the EPIL of 2.75 recorded in the 2010-11 season when the Phoenix won their first EPL title. The GAA only bettered, on the last day of the season, by Stevie Lyle. Fone has recovered from his shoulder injury and, is more or less, back to his best. Fone is one of the best goaltenders in the EPL and it is important that the Phoenix can keep a hold of him for many years to come. 

Declan Ryan 
I am a big big big fan of this guy! One of, if not the main, reason why the Tigers had a chance to win games (prior to their new money). Ryan has helped the Tigers through their return to EPL hockey and become a firm fan favourite in Shropshire. He would single handily stand on his head in games in the Ice Dome and frustrate the Phoenix no end. So, to hear he had signed for his hometown team, many of us Phoenix fans are deliriously happy! Ryan is only 21 and, his 2013/14 season was his best in the EPL with just 3.35 goals scored against. He may be in the back-up position but, I think we will see Ryan play a good proportion of games and push Fone for starts. He will also relish the opportunity to learn from Fone. You never know, Ryan may become the Phoenix no.1 given time! 

The Phoenix rebuild continues apace and keeps surprising us with each announcement!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 2 Frankie & Adam

After the Phoenix had shocked most of the fanbase by announcing Kovar's return to the Phoenix, the anticipation for the next big player announcement was huge. Who would it be? Another import? One or two players? An obvious returnee? Well, the Phoenix did it once again, another shock delivered with the news that Frantisek Bakrlim would be returning for his second season with the Phoenix and.....the return of a former Phoenix player Adam Walker. Two more shocks, but good ones it has to be said! 

Phoenix Press Release
Frantisek Bakrlik
The announcement that Bakrlik was returning did surprise quite a lot of people, there was much talk that he would follow Koulikov to the Peterborough Phantoms or even, possibly, Europe. But, the man with an epic slapshot and some of the best hands in the business was coming back to Altrincham. Frankie missed a few games last season and, had he played the full 54, would easily have had his best season of his career. I have been very impressed with Frankie after his first season so am looking forward to what he can do next season. In terms of the Phoenix, it's another big returnee and another solid player in the Phoenix roster build. 

Adam Walker
Adam is a player familiar to those Phoenix fans who first started following the team in the EIHL. After one season in the EPL with the Phoenix, where he put up the most points, by a country mile, in his career he left to continue his dream of playing in the EIHL. Signing for a club closer to home in the Braehead Clan. Over his three seasons in Scotland Adam continued his production at a similar level to that seen in Altrincham with the Phoenix. After three seasons Adam returned to the EPL and joined the, newly moneyed, Telford Tigers. Back in the EPL his scoring got going again and he ended the season scoring just over a point per game. 

Frankie coming back was a surprise, Walker even more so. We know what we are getting in Bakrlik and, if put on either the first or second lines with Tony or Robin on centre Bakrlik will terrorise defence and score a truck load of points again this coming season. Walker, his return is even more surprising but, talk is of the Phoenix being a better fit for his off the ice interests. Like Frankie, if paired with a top centreman Adam will be one of the top forwards in the EPL. 

Welcome home gentlemen!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Phoenix Rising - Part 1 - Robin Kovar

Yup, one of the more surprising bits of Phoenix news is, Robin Kovar will return for a second season with the Phoenix in the defense of their EPL crown. 

Phoenix Press Release
Elite Prospects Link
Those of you familiar with the Phoenix or remember various updates on twitter/the podcast will be surprised at this as, if it is to be believed, during the season Robin stormed off the ice saying he would never play in the EPL again due to the officials. Many people took that as a sign he was not coming back but, again if you believe other things people heard, after the playoff final, as the players were getting on the coach to head home, he said he would be back! Now having watched Phoenix TV it looks like Kovar was on a 2 year contract anyway....well..the Phoenix kept that one quiet!

Either way, the big man is back and 'who needs batman?' ey? 

With the return of Robin let's have a look back at his 2013/14 season and then look ahead to the season ahead. 

Kovar came to the Phoenix from HC Slovan Ustecti Lvi in the Czech 2nd tier scoring at just below a point per game. 6ft 1 he fitted in as the centreman on the Phoenix second line often combining with Bakrlik, Bentham and McKinnie plus Archer at times. His debut season in Manchester saw him put up the best numbers of his career and saw him make the EPL 2nd line of the year. In 58 games in all competitions Robin scored 41 goals in a total of 86 points, his best season in his career so far. In fact, thanks to @EPIHLStats for this nugget, Robin was one of only two players (Psurny being the other) to score 3+ goals against every opposition team last season. A bit of a selfish player Robin could be nigh on impossible to move off the puck. Immense strength and some great puck handling meant he could take on opposition lines all by himself. He is also a player who will stick up for himself and his team-mates, always willing to drop the gloves and, perhaps, indulge in a little of the skullduggery that happens in the EPL. 

Looking ahead to the new season, I expect more of the same from Robin, perhaps a little wiser too with regards the officiating. He now knows what the league is like so will be able to reign in his temper or, play the game with better fines letting his skill speak for him. He is good enough for the first line but, that position will be dependent on Hand icing another season. If Hand does ice, Kovar will again center the second line. In truth though, with Kovar on the 2nd line the gap between the top two lines is very small. He will score loads of goals and, his linemates will benefit from his skill and vision. I think he will have better season second time round, which is scary for the rest of the EPL! 

Rounding off the blog I will finish with some of the Choirboys best thoughts......'Who needs Batman....we have Robin!'

Phoenix TV:

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Phoenix v Bracknell Bees 30th March

With the regular season done and dusted, an Championship title won, it was time for the Phoenix to turn their attention to defending their Coventry crown. As with last season the Phoenix faced a quarter final match-up with the Bracknell Bees. While on paper the tie would look to be one sided, we are talking about 1st vs 8th here, playoff hockey is a whole other animal. In essence, league placings aside, this was 120mins of hockey to make the final dance. The Phoenix do have a good record against the Bees but, the Berkshire side are capable of a result. The first leg down at The Hive was a tough and close affair with the Bees edging the odd goal in 5 to bring a slender advantage back north. 

Bees 3 Phoenix 2 - Phoenix Article

Bees 3 Phoenix 2 - Bees Article
Bees 3 Phoenix 2 - Messenger News
The Phoenix faithful, and a fair contingent from Bracknell made their final trip to Altrincham for the second leg. For the Bees, coach trouble meant that a good proportion of those visiting Bees fans never made it to the Ice Dome sadly. As a giant champions banner was unveiled the puck dropped on the final 60mins of hockey in Altrincham for the 13/14 season. 

First Period: The game got underway and the Bees were immediately on the front foot. The first five minutes passed with the visitors dominating possession and chances. It was impressive stuff but, Fone was standing tall and giving the Phoenix a chance to settle into the game and wrest control back. Gradually they did so and began to apply more pressure to Mettam in the Bees net. The Phoenix, while controlling most of the period, did look a little tight and nervy. Not too surprising given they had a goal to make up. Plus the Bees hard working defence keeping them at bay. The Bees tactic of defence with the odd breakaway was working but also risky. How long could their defence last under the pressure? 

Second Period: The answer was over half of the game. The second picked up where the first left off with the Phoenix increasing the pressure on Mettam and the short benched Bracknell D. In a bit of good fortune for the home side a bounce of the puck evaded a Bracknell defencemen to fall onto the stick of Psurny, Breaking free he went in alone on Mettam and pulled off a lovely deke to spread Mettam and slide the puck through the smallest of gaps, goal timed at 34min 04sec. Game level and the flood gates opened! Just over two minutes later the home fans were celebrating again when, on the powerplay, an absolutely awesome shot from Bakrlik lit the lamp, his stormer coming at 36min 24sec. I still don't think Mettam has seen it! The Phoenix second period domination continued when, around a minute later Joe Graham found himself free in front of Mettam and cooly lifted the puck past the Bees stopper. The Phoenix third coming at 37min 26sec. The period ended with the Phoenix 3-0 up on the night and 5-3 up overall. 

Third Period: Having seen their previous tactic blown to pieces in the second period, the Bees had to come out and press hard. This opened up the game and we really got some great hockey to watch. Phoenix extended their lead when Tony Hand scored the 4th on the night at 46min 24sec. The period reached its halfway point and the Bees began to ratchet up their pressure, it was that or risk seeing their season end sooner rather than later. The Bees made their breakthrough when, serial aggitator Galazzi, scored the Bees first goal. The Bees breakthrough coming at 51min 41sec. This sparked a goal filled last 8-9 minutes of the game where the two teams traded goals. With the Phoenix on the powerplay James Archer scored at 54min 59sec. Just about 80sec later the Bees grabbed another through Strycek, his goal at 56min 17sec. Then about 70sec after that Bakrlik got his second of the game, scoring at 57min 33sec. The last goal and the Bees short bench looked to have sealed the game, the clock wound down and the final buzzer went, breaking Bees hearts and sending the Phoenix to Coventry. Final score on the night 6-2 and 8-6 overall. 

Verdict: A tense game early on but a superb second period blew it open and in the Phoenix favour. The early stages were perfect for the Bees, soaking up the pressure. But, when the breakthrough came the Bees struggled to adapt and get back into it. It was always going to be a tough tie but, I was always confident over 120mins of hockey, the Phoenix would have the quality to make it to the final 4. 

Attendance: A little disappointing actually, still a good crowd but down on last weeks crowd. I'll guess at around 1,000 in the Ice Dome. 

Phoenix 6 Bees 3 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 6 Bees 3 - Bees Article
Phoenix 6 Bees 3 - Local Berkshire
Phoenix 6 Bees 3 - Get Reading
Phoenix 6 Bees 3 - Bracknell News

Phoenix Coventry weekend preview!

Phoenix TV:

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Phoenix v Telford Tigers 23rd March

The final weekend of the regular season had arrived, the Phoenix came into the weekend already confirmed as champions. In that sense the weekend was a dead rubber but, the team will still want to win to maintain form going into the playoff's. The final weekend of the season would still be tough for the Phoenix, an away trip saturday to the Peterborough Phantoms was followed by a home game versus the Telford Tigers. 

Peterborough has not been an easy place for the Phoenix to go. Results have been mixed over the past season. The game would prove to be another tough one and close throughout. Though, the Phoenix were able to take the win scoring in overtime taking a 3-2 win. More worrying were reports, by Phoenix players no less, of the home fans throwing coins. James Neil being the unfortunate one who was hit by coins thrown by Phantoms fans. Not cool Peterborough, not cool! 

With the win secured the Phoenix returned home to face up the Tigers in their last regular season game. A large contingent of Tigers fans joined the large home support to create a wonderful atmosphere for the last game of the season. A win for the Phoenix and they would end the season on 80 points and perfect momentum into the playoffs. A loss would see the season end on a damp squib and, possibly, hand the Tigers a slight mental advantage should the two sides meet in Coventry. 

First Period:  The puck dropped and off we went, the game was played at a fast pace with both sides putting pressure on the net minders. The Tigers and Phoenix putting together some great moves which kept the fans in attendance entertained.  Telford opened the scoring when Davies lit the lamp with 7min 44sec gone sending the visiting fans crazy. The Tigers have some momentum about them and can be considered challengers for the post season crown. The game carried on at a high level, the intensity was great to watch. The Phoenix kept in the game putting more shots in on Ryan but had to wait until 14min 08sec before James Archer equalised for the home side. 

Second Period: Tigers got the jump on in the second period when Timo Kuulivainen scored at 23min 12sec. Timo showing some of the skill that the Phoenix had hoped for before his injury. The period carried on with both teams playing end-to-end hockey, the Phoenix began to control the puck a bit more but it was the Tigers who would score next. Rose scoring at 38min 59sec with a superb shot from the blue line. Fone just didn't see it with the screen in front. The end of the period came and, despite creating more chances, the Phoenix headed into the break 3-1 down. 

Third Period: A big big period needed for the Phoenix and they got one! Just 80sec into the period James Archer grabbed his second of the night. The Phoenix really upped the pressure looking for the equaliser but found Telford in resolute form. The Phoenix did find their way back into the game, on the penalty kill! With a man sat out the Phoenix levelled the game midway through the third period with the hattrick goal for James Archer, timed at 50min 50sec. The go-ahead goal came 30sec later, again on the penalty kill, when Tony Hand was found clear up ice, who skatyed in and unleashed a breathtaking shot to beat Ryan. The Phoenix ahead and the home fans going wild. Despite the lead Telford were still in the game and Kiviranta would force the extra session when he tapped in a great moved at 54min 27sec to tie the game. 

Overtime: With the point secured and, with it the Phoenix would finish on at least 79 points the teams would fight it out for the extra point. Phoenix lost the faceoff but were able to regain possesion early on. The game would be decided quickly though, Michal Psurny, so often the hero this season, would do it again. The Phoenix broke up ice, with Psurny driving the net, who then pulled off a lovely move to make Ryan spread across the goal opening up the gap. Psurny scoring at 61mins to give the Phoenix the win. 

Verdict: A fantastic game to cap off an excellent season for the Phoenix. Credit to the Tigers fans for clapping the Phoenix onto the Ice and for sticking around after the final whistle. Both teams played their part in the game and will both take the positives from it into the post season. The Phoenix will be pleased to have the edge over the Tigers should they meet in Coventry. 

Attendance: Another big crowd in the Ice Dome, 1,800. 

Phoenix 5 Telford 4 - Phoenix Article
Phoenix 5 Telford 4 - Tigers Article
Phoenix 5 Telford 4 - The Bolton News