Phoenix end home ice campaign on a high

Sunday, 16th March 2008

Manchester Phoenix 5 - 3 Edinburgh Capitals

Manchester Phoenix ended their home game schedule for the regular season with a solid performance and victory over the Edinburgh Capitals.

With Phoenix having already qualified for the playoffs and the Scots still chasing a place, this was always going to be a competitive game and it did not disappoint. Phoenix exploded out of the blocks taking just 66 seconds to open the scoring as Joe Tallari bagged his 51st of the season assisted by Tony Hand and Omar Ennaffati. Phoenix enjoyed some excellent puck possession and they kept JF Perras in the Capitals goal busy with a steady barrage of shots. Perras made some outstanding saves including twice foiling Tallari, Brian Passmore and Luke Stauffacher while his opposite number Scott Fankhouser kept the Capitals forwards at bay until late in the period when a speculative long-range effort from the impressive Colin Hemingway flew into the top corner.

Phoenix reacted with another quick start to the second session and two goals in less than minute saw them open up a lead. Tallari crashed home his second of the game in the 23rd minute on a pass from Simon Mangos and Ennaffati fired the first of his personal brace just 45 seconds later, on a pass from Scott Basiuk. Phoenix made it a three-goal spread just past the half-hour mark as Stauffacher laid on a perfect pass for Hungarian international Ennaffati to bury his second of the game. Phoenix were flying and only the form of Perras in the visitors goal prevented further markers.

The final period saw Edinburgh come out hard as they needed to get back into the game and quickly to keep their playoff challenge on track. Hemingway and Stutzel were causing the Phoenix defence some problems, but the home side were determined not to let their lead slip in their final home game of the regular season. A Clipping penalty against Mangos in the 56th minute gave the Capitals hope as they reduced the arrears on the resulting powerplay, player coach Doug Christiansen netting from close range. In the final minute and a Hooking penalty against the unfortunate Mangos, the Capitals pulled Perras for an extra skater, but paid the price as Tony Hand stripped the puck away and fired it almost three quarters the length of the ice into the unguarded net to regain the three-goal margin. Ironically, from the restart, Edinburgh scored on the powerplay, O'Connor blasting home from just inside the blueline for the final goal of the game.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand was pleased with the response from his squad to Saturday's loss in Cardiff when he commented, "I was a little concerned that the boys would be a little bit down, but they came up with a solid performance tonight. I thought we were unlucky not be ahead at the first break, however we took our chances well in the second period and from that point, I thought we were in control of the game. Edinburgh battled hard and never gave up and could yet make the playoffs. This week, we'll try to relax a little before the final trips to Nottingham and Hull before we begin the serious preparation for the playoffs."

Omar Ennaffati

With two goals and an assist Omar Ennaffati earned the MVP award
(Image: Richard Murray)

Manchester Phoenix Community Sports Foundation

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