Manchester Phoenix ENL 0 - 3 Billingham Bombers

Monday, 7th January 2008

Saturday 5th January, 2008

Phoenix had lost the corresponding game in Billingham in early October by six goals to one and the team were looking to redress the result in the North-East in this fixture, however it was not to be. The neat passing through the neutral zone of their previous games went the way of the Christmas pud and was replaced by too many neutral zone turnovers setting the team back into defence. As on Teesside, Bombers heavily outshot Phoenix in the third period (27 to 8), but this time, those shots failed to produce a significant goal-tally.

Period one looked promising for the Phoenix. Billingham took a holding minor after just 102 seconds. Manchester pressed for a significant proportion of the power-play, but, as was to happen too often later in the game, as the penalty wound down Billingham broke with an odd-man rush forcing fine defensive work by Dave Costelloe, then, as the puck broke to Ricky Box, a good save from Phoenix netminder, Benn Schofield. Schofield was to have another very good game giving him a hat-trick of MVP awards this season. Mid-period two minor penalties were called on Phoenix allowing Billingham over a minute of 5-on-3 powerplay. Fortunately the Bombers, despite being camped in the Manchester zone for the full power-play, were unable to score on this advantage. The period closed with both sides looking to be able to win the game and all to play for after the break.

Phoenix went straight onto the attack after the puck was dropped to start the second period. Good-looking play in the Billingham zone was destined for nothing as a neutral zone turnover gave the Bombers a three on one advantage. Andrew Thornton gave Benn Schofield no chance after helpers from Box and Stephen Pritchard. Immediately, Phoenix pressure resulted in Bombers conceding two minor penalties and 1.20 of a Phoenix two-man powerplay resulted. As with Billingham’s similar advantage in the first period, Phoenix could not beat James Flavell in the Bombers’ net. Play ran evenly for the next twelve minutes until, after 35.25 Paul Windridge back-handed a shot from the centre of the Phoenix blue-line which was parried to Benn Schofield’s right. The defensive play out was back into the centre of the blue line, straight to the Windridge fore-hand. His slap pass was slipped into the Phoenix net by Andrew Fletcher. The period had been fairly even, territorially and in shots (11 each), but Bombers made their way to the dressing room two goals to the good.

The third period started with Phoenix looking to lift themselves and recover some momentum. Both netminders’ goals were under significant threat until a power-play at 44.44 enabled Billingham to put the game out of the Manchester grasp. Despite being under pressure Ricky Box’ strong wrist shot from the centre of the Phoenix blue-line just beat a heavily screened Benn Schofield’s butterfly stance. The final ten minutes was played out through several testy and disputed minor penalties. Phoenix were heavily outshot in the period by 27 shots to 8, and by 54 to 31 throughout the game. A statistic which may show that shooting the puck and being on the net can produce goals. Or, as ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ interviewees are apt to say, “Good things will happen”. 

A disappointing result from a game which appeared to be destined for a much closer result. As a Phoenix official said “Neutral ice blind passes gave too many turnovers. If we’d played the way that we could see, some of the Bombers’ dangerous rushes could have been averted”.

Period Scores:

0–0, 0–2, 0-1

Shots on Goal:

16–12, 11–11, 27–8 (54 – 31)

Phoenix Stats:

Nets:   Benn Schofield  54/3   (94.83%)

Phoenix ENL MVP – Benn Schofield

Benn Schofield

Benn Schofield won his third consecutive MVP award
(Image: Richard Murray)

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