Phoenix superb in emphatic win over Steelers

Sunday, 6th January 2008

Sheffield Steelers 0 - 4 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix got 2008 off to a perfect start as Scott Fankhouser posted a 22-shot shutout in a comprehensive victory over their Yorkshire rivals with player coach Tony Hand registering his 3000th league point in the process.

Phoenix controlled the game from start to finish in arguably their best performance of the season so far as they stifled the Steelers on their own ice to the delight of their noisy travelling support. Brett Clouthier opened the scoring in the 11th minute taking a nice pass from Brian Passmore before coolly slotting the puck past Jody Lehman and that single strike separated the teams at the first interval.

Sheffield upped their work rate in the second session, but were finding Phoenix goalie Scott Fankhouser in excellent form, making the saves and giving up very few rebounds. Phoenix doubled their lead on a delayed penalty in the 31st minute as Tony Hand released Joe Tallari and the leagues leading goalscorer made no mistake. The assist for Hand saw him reach 3000 career points in regular season league action – a figure that will surely never be equalled, and he received an excellent reception from the goodly-sized crowd. And just over a minute later, Brian Passmore buried a pass from Brett Clouthier to effectively settle the result as Phoenix had shown Sheffield the art of finishing clinically while the home side continued to struggle to master Fankhouser.

With Phoenix expecting a Sheffield onslaught in the third period, a tremendous unassisted strike from Sean Starke in the 46th minute merely emphasised the Phoenix superiority on the night as he crashed a shot past Lehman from the top of the left wing circle. Sheffield continued to huff and puff, but it far too little and far too late for the Yorkshire outfit who had started the game lying second in the Elite League standings. In the end they were a well beaten side and Phoenix were given a rapturous ovation from their travelling supporters as they left the ice.

Scott Fankhouser commented, “any win on the road is a good win, but tonight was very pleasing personally. We’ve played Sheffield well here before and lost and tonights’ result was totally justified, we have to be pleased with the way we played.”

Tony Hand added, “we played a very smart road game. We soaked up what they threw at us and hit them efficiently and at good times too. All our goals were well taken and I’m delighted to have reached 3000 points. I was told about it just prior to the game and it surprised me. It’s nice for me to hit such a figure, but the result for the team was the main thing and we thoroughly deserved this.”

Phoenix now play home and away against the Hull Stingrays in the Knockout Cup. Sunday sees the Phoenix travel to Humberside with the second leg in Altrincham on Thursday evening at 7.45pm.

Scott Fankhouser

Scott Fankhouser earned Man Of The Match for his part in the 22-shot shutout
(Image: Richard Murray)

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