Phoenix in overtime winner thriller

Sunday, 16th December 2007

Edinburgh Capitals 4 – 5 Manchester Phoenix after o/time

Sean Starke struck the valuable overtime winner as Manchester Phoenix took two much-needed points from their long road trip north of the border.

After the ceremony to retire the No.21 shirt of former Murrayfield Racers and Great Britain captain Chris Kelland, Phoenix got the perfect start as captain Scott Basiuk forced the puck past JF Perras in the home goal on the games first powerplay opportunity with just 99 seconds having elapsed. Less than a minute later, the hardy band of Phoenix travelling supporters were celebrating again as Brett Clouthier took a pass from Luke Stauffacher to fire a rising shot into the past Perras from the left wing circle. Phoenix were in early control and keeping Edinburgh to long range shots. Scott Fankhouser made good stops to deny Hemingway and Cingel before Phoenix took a real stranglehold on the game with their third goal. Just nine seconds into their second powerplay, Joe Tallari squeezed the puck past Perras from close range and the Capitals immediately used their timeout to try and steady the defence. The ploy worked as the home side began to enjoy more possession with Hemingway and Cingel a constant threat, with Stefishen always in the mix with his physical presence. The first period was cut short at 17.20 due to blood on the ice following an accidental high stick by Brett Clouthier and Sean Starke drawing an Interference minor to hand the home side a two-man advantage.

Edinburgh made the most of the double powerplay with Martin Cingel firing home in the 19th minute. Boosted by their goal, Edinburgh came out hard in the second period and Fankhouser had to be alert making saves from Crane, Stutzel and Cingel before Perras made a good stop to deny Stauffacher. With the game much more even than the early stages, Phoenix were unable to capitalise on three further powerplay chances before  Edinburgh closed the gap again in the 33rd minute, Patrick Luza the scorer. But the home fans cheers died in their throats as within thirty seconds, Tony Hand restored the Phoenix two-goal lead. With forty minutes played both goalies had faced 19 shots apiece in an entertaining encounter.

The pattern of end-to-end hockey continued into the third period and again, the Capitals withstood a Phoenix powerplay as Stefishen sat out his third personal minor. The penalty kill certainly lifted the home side and they made it a one-goal game in the 51st minute, Mike Stutzel crashing a shot past Fankhouser after Phoenix had failed to clear their zone. Edinburgh were now enjoying more of the possession, but Brian Passmore almost caught them out on a solo rush before Perras made the save. An ill-timed broken stick for Tony Hand saw his clearance clear the plexiglass and on the ensuing Delay of Game penalty, Edinburgh tied the score in the 57th minute, Cingel with his second of the night sending the game into sudden death overtime.

And with less than two minutes remaining, Phoenix came up with the all-important and vital game winning goal. Scott Basiuk sent Luke Stauffacher away and his pass across the slot area was neatly despatched by Sean Starke.

Phoenix bench coach Davey Graham commented, “We got off to a great start and it looked like being an easy night. But credit the Caps, they dug in and fought back to make a real game of it. That’s two tough games we’ve had here in a fortnight, with both going to the extra period. The bonus is we’ve come out of the game unscathed in terms of any new injuries, so it’s back home quickly and get ready for Basingstoke on Sunday.” 

Sean Starke

Starke scored in overtime to win the match for Phoenix
(Image: Richard Murray)

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