Phoenix third period rally sets up second leg

Monday, 7th January 2008

Hull Stingrays 5 - 3 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix always knew progress in the Knockout Cup would hinge on the second, home, leg in Altrincham on Thursday and they had third period markers from Joe Tallari and Jeff MacMillan to be thankful for in keeping the tie alive.

After the emphatic win in Sheffield on Satrurday, Phoenix were caught a little flat by a quick start from the hometown Stingrays as James Knight fired them into a 4th minute lead. The home side dominated the early exchanges and Jake Riddle bagged the first of hit personal hat-trick in the 13th minute on a delayed penalty called against Joe Tallari. Hull must have thought all their birthdays had come on one night as Riddle added his second less than two minutes later. Phoenix though stayed calm and Tallari, the leagues leading goalscorer, pulled a goal back in the 16th minute firing home a rebound after Kudrna in the Hull goal had parried his first effort.

Phoenix had three powerplay chances early in the second session, but failed to capitalise and Slava Koulikov made them pay just past the half hour mark on a delayed penalty against Tony Hand. And the tie looked to be beyond the Phoenix when Riddle completed his treble goal haul in the 37th minute to give the Stingrays a four-goal lead.

The first goal of the third period was vital and Phoenix were the team to grab the important score after just 44 seconds of the session, Tallari again the man in the right spot to finish on approach work from Brian Passmore and Hand. Phoenix were now coming on strong and the Hull defence was forced into some desperate defence and they had their goalie Ladislav Kudrna to thank for two excellent saves to deny Tony Hand. Phoenix continued to pressure and they got their reward in the 51st minute as Jeff MacMillan crashed an unstoppable shot from the top of the left wing circle to make it a two-goal game. Hull were now feeling the heat, but stood firm as Phoenix camped in their zone for most of the time remaining to take the result and set up an intriguing second leg on Thursday.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand noted, “They didn’t play on Saturday, so we knew they’d be rested and come out hard and they took us a little by surprise by their aggressive forechecking and we had to work hard to slow them down. We knew we’d have to win at home in the second leg and the third period response from our guys has given us that chance. I think both teams will know that the first goal on Thursday will be crucial and it’s important that we prepare well both mentally and physically – it’s sure to be an exciting evening.”

Joe Tallari

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

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