Adam Walker treble boost

Saturday, 30th August 2008

Cardiff Devils 4 – 3 Manchester Phoenix

Adam Walker bagged a hat-trick on Saturday night as the new-look Manchester Phoenix squad went down narrowly in Cardiff in the first of their pre-season challenge games.

With both teams still missing new recruits, players were called up from the respective ENL teams to bolster the benches as coaches Tony Hand and Gerad Adams pitted their wits head to head for the first time this season.

With both teams also only having had three training sessions ahead of the game, there was understandable early errors and it was Phoenix who drew the first penalty under the four official system as Brett Clouthier was called for Slashing. But, it was a bright start by the visitors and they took the lead in the seventh minute as Walker nailed his first goal finishing off a nice move involving Clouthier and Grant Jacobsen. Cardiff had netminder Peter Aubry to thank for a fine save from Nathan Ward on the end of a flowing attack that saw Josh Garbutt and David Beauregard execute fine interplay. Phoenix doubled their lead just past the thirteen minute mark as Walker swooped to bury a rebound as Aubry failed to hold onto a Brett Clouthier shot from the slot. Phoenix then killed two further penalties before taking the two-goal lead into the first interval with the Devils shorthanded for the first time.

The second session saw fortunes swing the home sides way as a debatable Slashing penalty on Clouthier proved a key turning point. Moments later, on a delayed penalty call, the Devils reduced the arrears through Mike Prpich and still on the powerplay, they tied the game at two apiece just 18 seconds later, Derek Campbell firing the puck past Stephen Murphy in the Phoenix goal. And having gained the momentum, the home side took their first lead in the 26th minute as Campbell finished a flowing move for his second goal of the game. Phoenix stayed calm and worked their way back into an entertaining game, that despite a few errors from both sides was played in good humour, but with no shortage of good physical play. Phoenix were disappointed to go into the second interval trailing 4-2 as Cardiff talisman Brad Voth opened his account with a quick release shot that beat Murphy to his glove side.

Phoenix were not bowed by the scoreline and with ENL players Ben and James Woods taking a regular shift and not disgracing themselves, the visitors enjoyed their fair share of the play and actually out-shot their hosts. Peter Aubry in the home goal was playing well and made confident saves from Alex Dunn and Nathan Ward before Voth saw a close range effort beat Murphy and cannon back into play off the goalframe. Inside the final five minutes, both teams changed their netminders to give respective back-ups Joe Myers and Adam Summerfield a taste of the action and Myers first task was to puck the puck out of his goal as Adam Walker completed his personal hat-trick converting at the back post on a centring pass from Grant Jacobsen. Both goalies then made good stops as the game wound down to an exciting finish with the Devils hanging on for the narrow victory.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand expressed overall satisfaction at his teams first outing as he commented, “I thought the guys gave a good solid effort tonight for the first game. It will take another game, a solid week of practise and if we can get another couple of the guys in next week, I think we’ll be okay for the first weekend of the league campaign. It was good for Adam to get his goals, that should do his confidence the world of good and overall, I was very pleased with the way things went.”

Asked for his first reaction to the new system of two referees and two linesman Hand added, “It’s early days yet and the officials are still getting used to it. There were a couple of calls this evening that I think bemused both Gerad and myself, and the one on Cloots early in the second period definitely changed the momentum of the game in the Devils favour. That said, it was an exhibition game and everyone will benefit from another few games before the start of the league for real.”

Adam Walker

Adam Walker scored all 3 Phoenix goals
(Image: Richard Murray)

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