Levers double blanks brave Phoenix

Thursday, 6th December 2007

Nottingham Panthers 2 – 0 Manchester Phoenix

A brace of goals from Mark Levers gave the home side Panthers victory, but it was a brave effort from a short-benched Phoenix squad and a superb display of goaltending by Scott Fankhouser that earned the plaudits.

Icing without defencemen Scott Basik and Jeff MacMillan, Phoenix again dropped Brian Passmore into a blueline role and moved Adam Walker up to the second line centre position. And the game plan for the first period worked well against a Nottingham side with a full 20-player bench and rotating three full lines of forwards. Phoenix were outshot in the opening session, but took a nil-nil score to the locker room after twenty minutes, and this despite losing Joe Tallari for over five minutes with skate trouble.

Panthers broke the deadlock in the 26th minute with Phoenix on a powerplay, Steve Pelletier found Marc Levers in space and as he took the shot, the puck bobbled and knuckleballed into the top corner for the shorthanded go-ahead marker. Panthers were now dominating possession, but Fankhouser in the Phoenix goal was at his best, denying them with a string of fine saves, and keeping the game close. At the other end Tom Askey making his home debut for the Panthers was equally accomplished in dealing with the Phoenix forays forward.

Phoenix came out hard for the final period, and took the game to the home side. But, when your luck is out, it’s usually out in a big way and three times, they were denied by the Panthers goalframe with Askey beaten. Brett Clouthier saw a shot hit the inside of a post and fly out the other side, Tony Hand crashed a shot against the post and Luke Stauffacher too heard the bell chime, but with no red light to signify an equaliser. And the Panthers capitalised in the 48th minute as a pass out of defence from Matt Myers found Levers in space and he drew Fankhouser before a neat move gave the scoring chance he couldn’t fail to take. Phoenix didn’t let their heads drop, and despite being outshot, they can take heart from a dogged performance against almost impossible odds.

Phoenix bench coach Davey Graham commented, “considering we were down to bare bones on defence, we gave a great performance. It was always going to be tough coming in here short of bodies, but the guys played hard and if the three shots that hit the post in the third period had gone our way, it could have been a different outcome.”

Fankhouser in action

Man of the Match - Scott Fankhouser

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