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Fone superb in excellent Phoenix show

Saturday, 26th January 2008

Manchester Phoenix 5 – 2 Cardiff Devils

On-loan netminder Steve Fone enjoyed a Man of the Match performance for the Manchester Phoenix as they gained a vital two points with victory over the Cardiff Devils on Saturday night.

Fone, playing courtesy of the Coventry Blaze made 24 saves in an excellent performance for his temporary club and looked solid throughout as the Phoenix took the game to the Devils from the outset. And the Phoenix defence in front of him tightened up nicely restricting the visitors to long-range shots in the early stages allowing Fone to grow in confidence.

Both sides failed on their first respective powerplay opportunities, but Phoenix capitalised on their second as Sean Starke scored with a shot that hit the inside of the post in the 11th minute. Brett Clouthier added a second marker just over two minutes later firing home a rebound from the right side and Phoenix completed dominant opening period as Tony Hand finished a fine move crashing home from the top of the right wing circle in the final minute of the session. The Devils lost Jason Stone to a facial injury just before the interval that required a trip to the local A&E Dept for attention to a deep cut.

Cardiff, missing three regular first team players through injury, upped their work rate in the second period and reduced the arrears on a 26th minute powerplay with Matus Petricko firing home from the slot. However, Phoenix responded perfectly within a minute by restoring their three-goal margin as top scorer Joe Tallari swept home his 36th of the season with Phoenix on a powerplay. Cardiff continued to pose a threat and their main strike force of Max Birbraer and Jason Silverthorn both saw efforts well saved by the impressive Fone as Phoenix maintained their lead into the second break.

With a good crowd in the Silver Blades Ice Dome getting behind them, Phoenix sealed the victory in the 49th minute as they netted their third powerplay goal of the game, Luke Stauffacher scoring from close range assisted by Starke and Omar Ennaffati. Cardiff added their second goal in the 51st minute as Petricko won a face-off and his pass saw Brad Voth fire home with Fone slightly unsighted. Cardiff worked hard to try and pressure the Phoenix in the time remaining, but the home defence and Fone stood firm to round off a satisfactory nights work.

Player coach Tony Hand noted, “I expected Cardiff to come hard early and we needed to do that too to put pressure on their back-up goalie. We played some good hockey, the powerplay worked well tonight and Steve Fone did an excellent job for us. It was important for us to get the two points tonight as it helps us close the gap on the Devils in sixth place in the table. We’ve got a big game ahead of us on Sunday when Nottingham come in here, so we’ll hope for more of the same as tonight.”

Steve Fone 2008

Stand-in netminder Steve Fone won Man of the Match for Phoenix with his sterling performance between the pipes
(Image: Coventry Blaze)


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