Great effort by short-staffed Phoenix

Saturday, 8th December 2007

Coventry Blaze 4 - 0 Manchester Phoenix

Missing Scott Basiuk and Joe Tallari, Manchester Phoenix put in a magnificent effort against an allegedly weakened Coventry Blaze icing with just nineteen players on their roster.

With Jeff MacMillan still hurting, but back in the line-up after missing five games, Phoenix were able to ice four defenceman and in an entertaining and very even opening period they more than matched their high-flying hosts. Phoenix were unlucky not to open the scoring on an early two-man advantage as Simon Mangos saw a short range effort miss the target by a hairsbreadth and Sean Starke was foiled by Trevor Koenig in the home goal. Both sides were playing some open attractive hockey and at the first break, both netminders had faced seven shots.

The second session saw a similar pattern of play, Coventry enjoying slightly more possession, but Phoenix defending comfortably and counter-attacking effectively. Phoenix again should have taken the lead when a wrist shot from Mangos beat Koenig only to cannon back into play off the goalframe crossbar. Phoenix were proving difficult for the Blaze to break down and they were again desperately unlucky when an excellent shot from Carl Graham also beat Koenig and clanged against a goalpost. Coventry opened the scoring when their renowned powerplay capitalised on a MacMillan High Sticking minor, Sylvain Cloutier getting a telling deflection to an Adam Calder shot in the 38th minute.

Calder gave the home side a two-goal advantage on an early third period powerplay tucking home from close range assisted by Barrie Moore in the 43rd minute. Having to chase the game, Phoenix were always liable to be caught as Coventry upped the pressure and cruelly conceded a third goal three minutes later, Dan Carlson the scorer again with an assist from Moore. Phoenix continued to battle bravely against the odds and Koenig made smart saves to deny long range shots from Omar Ennaffati and Jeff MacMillan. Coventry added a fourth goal in the 56th minute, Barrie Moore adding to his two earlier assists to give the league leaders an advantage that was unfair on the Phoenix.

Player coach Tony Hand shook his head afterwards as he said, "I don't know what more we can do right now. We came in here short and played a great game. We have not played badly at all and we just need to get a break in front of goal. We hit the pipework three or four times in Nottingham on Wednesday and we've hit it again at least twice tonight. I'm very proud of the way the guys played tonight given our situation, the score does not do us justice in any way."

Brian Passmore

Brian Passmore earned man of the match for Phoenix
(Image: Richard Murray)

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