Phoenix edge Vipers in Boxing Day bash

Wednesday, 26th December 2007

Manchester Phoenix 3 – 2 Newcastle MobilX Vipers

Manchester Phoenix came from behind on Boxing Day to claim a vital two points from victory over the Newcastle Vipers, in a game that they dominated without putting well beyond their opponents.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand commented, “We were always in control of the game and could and probably should have won by a bigger margin. We dominated the play for long periods and but for an excellent game by the Vipers goalie, I thought we could have scored at least three of four more goals.”

Phoenix started brightly with Luke Stauffacher seeing two early chances turned aside and MacDonald in the Vipers goal twice deny Joe Tallari before the visitors took the lead. A left wing attack by David Longstaff saw the puck driven to the net where Shaun Johnson got the telling touch just before the five-minute mark. Phoenix upped their work rate and a good clean open ice hit by Scott Basiuk took the wind out of the sails of former teammate Derek Campbell, now of the Vipers. MacDonald again showed his skills gloving a fine shot from Tallari before Phoenix drew level in the 17th minute, Simon Mangos firing home from the slot assisted by Brian Passmore and Tallari.

The second period again saw Phoenix enjoy the greater possession and scoring opportunities without piercing the Vipers rearguard. Passmore, Tallari and Sean Starke all went close and a low shot from Omar Ennaffati through a forest of legs was well saved by MacDonald. Phoenix had to wait till the 35th minute before grabbing the lead as Sean Starke netted his third goal of the festive season, and Phoenix doubled their advantage four minutes later as Hand and Tallari combined to give Brett Clouthier a clean shot on a 39th minute powerplay.

Despite missing three key forwards to injury, Newcastle made a game of it in the third session forcing Phoenix into some defensive action. Vipers reduced the arrears with just over eight minutes remaining as Johnson forced home his second of the game to set up a nail biting finale. With just less than two minutes to play, tempers flared as Tallari and Vipers Ben Storey were both ejected on 5+Game major penalties for Tripping and Slashing respectively. Phoenix thought they’d secured the game as Sean Starke slid the puck into an unguarded Vipers nets in the final seconds, but the goal was disallowed for offside and the final hooter again saw players getting involved in some push and shove.

A Phoenix spokesperson added, “That was closer than it should have been and with just a little bit of edge creeping in late on. We go to Newcastle tomorrow for the return game and we’ll be looking to bring two more points back to Manchester with us. It’ll be another tight game, but we’ll go there looking to attack from the start rather than defend and looking to catch them on the break.”

Brian Passmore

Phoenix Man of the Match - Brian Passmore
(Image: Richard Murray)

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