Manchester Phoenix ENL 5 - 3 Lancashire Raptors

Monday, 14th January 2008

Played: Saturday 12 January, 2008

Like the Phoenix, the Lancashire Raptors are a new team to the ENL this season. They have had marginally less success than the Phoenix team, lying one point behind Manchester. A close encounter was expected, but with the experience in the Phoenix line-up, the team was hoping for a third league victory. Manchester had significant territorial advantage, but the Raptors held their lines and a close score-line resulted.

In period one, despite out-shooting the Raptors by 15 shots to 5, the game did not appear to be camped in the Lancashire zone. Three penalties were called on both sides, neither team being able to score on their power-plays. However, the final penalty of the period was awarded against the Phoenix at 14.43. After only 9 seconds of the Raptors’ power-play Arran Richardson stripped the Lancashire player on the Phoenix blue-line and took-off down the ice and despite being harried by the Lancashire defence, he was able to place an accurate shot to the keeper’s right for his seventh goal of the season. The remainder of the period was played with Phoenix starting to recover some self-belief and hoping that goals would come.

With 39 seconds of the second period played, Rick Hughes in the slot, took a pass from Russ Richardson and slipped the puck passed the Raptors’ keeper to make the score 2 - 0. Four seconds into a tripping minor called on Raptors at 23.40, Robyn Crebbin on the Phoenix left point took a pass from Rick Hughes and seeing a gap in the top right of the Raptors net, made no mistake. Three nil, and things appeared to be going the way of the Phoenix. However, little in ice hockey is so simple. Tom King returned to the fray having lost a skate blade late in the opening session, but fell victim to an agricultural baseball swing at the side of the Raptor’s net by netminder Greg Ruxton. Both players left the game: Ruxton with a match penalty and Tom, hospital-bound, with a three centimetre deep gash in his chin. In the ensuing 5-minute major penalty, Nick Saxton having replaced Ruxton between the Raptors’ pipes was not beaten. Just after the half-way point of the game, both Russ Richardson and Scott Catterall (Raptors) received what appeared to be harsh match penalties for Roughing. The loss of these players caused some necessary line-reorganisation. At 31.26 Gary Meikle was able to take advantage of this hiatus in the Phoenix defence, collecting a turned-over puck in the neutral zone and causing an odd-man rush to spoil what had seemed to be a Mark Law shut-out. An eventful period in which Phoenix had been in the Raptors’ zone for much of the time and had out-shot them 21–11 leaving the ice two goals to the good. 

The final period started with Phoenix looking to capitalise on their burgeoning momentum. Players began to be camped in the slot, notably, Pete Norgate and Dave Costelloe as Manchester again out-shot the visitors, but both teams traded goals and the period score was even at two each. A powerplay slap-shot from the point at 44.05 by Danny Berry from another helper from Rick Hughes found its way through traffic to restore the Phoenix three-goal buffer. The margin was reduced following a Raptors break-away, at 51.03, when Daniel Fearon took advantage of a shot rebounding from his pads and covered most of the length of the ice to beat Law for their second goal.  Almost immediately a pass from Dave Costelloe was moved on by Pete Norgate to put Matt Watts into a scoring position from which he made no mistake.

Phoenix worked off the majority of a Raptors two-man powerplay only for Raptors Gary Meikle to bag his second of the game with two seconds on the penalty to kill – assists credited to Steven Hetherington and Mike Jones.

A strong performance from the Phoenix ENL in which territorial pressure and shots were not proportionally, reflected in the score-line.  A Phoenix spokesperson noted, “In the last two periods particularly, the Raptors collapsed around their goal leaving little space between the circles. It was difficult to break them down despite getting so many shots on their keeper. The pressure placed by Phoenix gave the Raptors a number of break-away opportunities and they capitalised on those. Overall, a good performance from a team we needed to beat to help our confidence and progress up the standings. It was good to see the goals and assists spread across several players on all lines. It gives us momentum for tomorrow evening”.

Man of the match for Phoenix: Andy Ritchie  

Period Scores: 1–0, 2–1, 2-2

Shots on Goal: 5–15, 11–21, 19–7 (23 – 55)

Phoenix Stats:
Rick Hughes  1+2, Danny Berry 1+0, Robyn Crebbin 1+0, Arran Richardson 1+0, Matt Watts 1+0, Dave Costelloe 0+1, Pete Norgate 0+1, Russ Richardson  0+1. 

Nets: Mark Law  23 / 3   (89.96%)

Andy Ritchie

Andy Richie won Man of the Match for Phoenix

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