Stingrays overtime winner pain for Phoenix

Friday, 11th January 2008

Manchester Phoenix(3) 3 – 2 (5)Hull Stingrays
Aggregate score 6-7

A valiant effort by the Manchester Phoenix on Thursday night came to nothing as an overtime deflection from Jake Riddle saw the Hull Stingrays progress through to the semi-final draw in dramatic fashion.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand was left shaking his head after his side gained the three goal advantage they needed and then saw a late Hull marker force the sudden death overtime period. “I cannot fault the effort from my guys tonight, they gave it everything and I honestly thought we’d got the result,” Hand grimaced. “I couldn’t believe the goal that forced overtime and then the deflection that knocked us out. One of these days, the luck will go our way, but when I’m not quite sure. I thought the defence played well tonight, we were keeping them to long distance shots and mostly from out wide, and then they get two goals right from those positions.” Hand added, “there are guys hurting in our locker room really hurting inside after this loss and I fell for them, they care. We got great support from the crowd and I don’t know how this one slipped away.”

Phoenix went into the game knowing that a three goal margin in their favour would put them in the hat for the semi-final draw and after the scoreless first period, they got things moving with a slightly lucky powerplay marker by Brian Passmore just before the halfway point. A centring pass from Luke Staffacher bamboozled Kudrna in the Hull goal in the 35th minute and Phoenix were flying and a little over two and half minutes later, it was Hand himself at the back post converting a pass from Passmore to put the home side ahead on aggregate.

The third period saw Hull pick up the pace, but without making any clear cut chances until the 57th minute when a shot from Nikolai Ladygin somehow got through the defences of Scott Fankhouser to tie the score and force the game into overtime. With Brett Clouthier in the penalty box, Hull had the better of the extra period and even with Phoenix back to four players, the visitors stole the win as veteran defenceman Troy Neumeier arrowed a shot on the Phoenix net and Riddle, whose hat trick in the first leg had given the Stingrays the advantage, got the telling deflection to send Hull through and break the Phoenix hearts.

A Phoenix spokesperson commented, “we really thought we had a great chance in the Knockout Cup, but it wasn’t to be and now we have to knuckle down and concentrate on getting as a good a placing in the league table for the playoffs. We have to put this defeat behind us and quickly as we have two tough games in the league this weekend, and we have to go looking for a maximum four points.”

Phoenix travel to Newcastle on Saturday before a Sunday evening clash in the Altrincham Ice Dome against the Sheffield Steelers. 

Brett Clouthier

Brett Clouthier won Man of the Match for Phoenix
(Image: Richard Murray)

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