Hand pulls the strings as Phoenix cruise to victory

Friday, 28th December 2007

MobilX Newcastle Vipers 2 - 6 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix made it a four-point Christmas with their second win in two nights over the MobilX Newcastle Vipers following a comfortable visit to Tyneside on Thursday evening with player/coach Tony Hand in inspirational form.

Both sides started brightly in a quick opening with the best of the early chances falling to Simon Mangos on a 3-on-1 break that saw Ryan MacDonald in the Vipers net make a smart save. Both teams failed to capitalise on their first powerplay opportunities before Phoenix opened the scoring the 11th minute with Joe Tallari netting his 28th of the season with a low finish. Vipers responded inside a minute as Geordie native Ben Campbell tapped home at the back post after good work by David Longstaff forced the opening. Phoenix continued to push forward and both Mangos and Scott Basiuk saw shots well saved by MacDonald. With the home side on a strong attack, a superb play by Jeff MacMillan released Tony Hand away down the middle of the ice and the veteran Scot deked to his right before sliding the go-ahead goal past MacDonald in the 18th minute.

Newcastle began to fall foul of officialdom in the second session as first Payette, Gomenyuk and then Ben Storey were all assessed minor penalties with the latter also drawing a 10-minute Misconduct. Phoenix eventually capitalised on the Storey infringement with captain Scott Basiuk firing the visitors into a two-goal lead from the right wing right on the 28-minute mark. Phoenix then had to work hard to kill a penalty against Jeff MacMillan with Shaun Johnson seeing a close range effort hit the Phoenix goalpost. Phoenix struck with deadly efficiency in the 36th minute as Tony Hand found Luke Stauffacher and his shot beat MacDonald at his near post.

With Newcastle still missing three key forwards to injury, fatigue began to hit the home side and Stauffacher added his second of the game early in the third period again following a delightful interplay with player coach Tony Hand. Tempers flared as Phoenix Carl Graham and Vipers Dean Holland clashed following the Vipers player colliding with phoenix goalie Scott Fankhouser and with Vipers subsequently picking up further penalties to Storey and Derek Campbell, Joe Tallari notched his second of the game on a two-man advantage on 48 minutes to make it 6-1 to the visitors. The much-awaited clash between Vipers Andre Payette and Phoenix Brett Clouthier surfaced shortly afterwards with both receiving major penalties for Fighting. With calmness restored, both teams changed their netminders and it was left for Newcastle to try and salvage a degree of respectability from the game and former Phoenix forward Derek Campbell beat Benn Schofield to reduce the arrears with just less then two minutes on the clock.

A pleased Tony Hand commented, “Before the games against Cardiff, I’d set my sights on taking eight points from the five games to close out the year and we’ve gained six with the game in Basingstoke still to come on Saturday. I’ve always felt that once we got everyone back fit and healthy, we could play with anyone and I think we’re beginning to show that. Tonight was a key game for us and the players responded well to get the result they fully deserved.”

Joe Tallari

Joe Tallari won Man of the Match for Phoenix
(Image: Richard Murray)

Tony Hand

Player Coach Tony Hand scored a goal and two assists
(Image: Richard Murray)

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