Phoenix shootout victory makes it a 4-point weekend

Sunday, 7th September 2008

Manchester Phoenix 5 – 4 Newcastle Vipers

Manchester Phoenix made it a four-point opening weekend courtesy of a bizarre penalty shootout victory on Sunday night after the ice became unplayable after two periods.

Phoenix player/coach Tony Hand expressed his delight at the start his team have got off to when he said, “Obviously I am delighted to have taken four points from the weekend, as a coach that’s all you can ask of your players that they go out and battle and things went our way.”

Phoenix were rocked on Sunday as the Vipers stole into a second minute lead but, they roared back with two goals in a 25-second spell in the 8th minute as Grant Jacobsen blasted home off the left wing to equalise and then Kyle Bruce – on his home debut – forced home the go-ahead goal moments later. The Vipers responded in kind in the 13th minute as Marek Ivan stripped the puck in the offensive zone and driving to the slot beat Stephen Murphy to make it a 2-2 scoreline. And the Vipers took a 3-2 lead into the first interval as Todd Griffith fired them back into the lead in the 19th minute.

Phoenix needed just 16 seconds of the second period to again draw level as Tony Hand found space on the right and David-Alexandre Beauregard at the back post comprehensively buried his inch-perfect centre into the Vipers goal. Shortly afterwards, Kyle Bruce and Vipers Tyler Willis dropped the gloves and the altercation ended with both men still on their feet after a frenetic and entertaining exchange of punches. Phoenix then ran into serious penalty trouble with Josh Garbutt penalised for Interference and both Nathan Ward and Alex Dunn adjudged to have delayed the game by lifting the puck over the plexiglass. Newcastle duly capitalised on the two-man advantage, Marek Ivan netting his second goal of the game in the 27th minute. Phoenix were not bowed and another superb link-up between Hand and Beauregard saw the French-Canadian net his second of the game and fourth of the weekend to again tie the score.

During the second interval though, the ice surface came under severe scrutiny and despite a 20-minute delay for running repairs, referee Tom Darnell deemed the surface too dangerous to continue with the third period. After consulting league officials together with both coaches and team General Managers, it was agreed by all parties to call the game tied at 4-4 and a penalty shootout would take place to decide who gained the extra point.

After the initial three penalties per side, the score was still tied and it was the Phoenix who gained the extra point as former Phoenix player Derek Campbell missed with the Vipers sixth effort and Bruce Mulherin capped his home debut with the game-winning penalty shot.

Phoenix Head Coach Tony Hand added, “It was a somewhat bizarre end to the game, given that we only completed two periods, but the safety of the players has to be the paramount concern for all parties. Rob Wilson and I talked and we felt the crowd deserved to see a result and a penalty shootout was the only option. In the end it brought about an exciting end to the evening. As for our efforts, I’m very pleased with the outcome of the weekend. We had Bruce and Kyle fresh in from North America and not knowing the systems we’ve been practising and we’ve still got two top players in Kenton Smith and Luke Fulghum to join the squad. Once they’re here and we’ve had a few more training sessions, I think we’ll be fine.”

Next weekend sees the Phoenix travel to Basingstoke on Saturday before returning to the Altrincham Ice Dome on Sunday to take on the Nottingham Panthers.

Kyle Bruce

Phoenix Man Of The Match: Kyle Bruce

Join our 200 Club

Manchester Phoenix Community Sports Foundation

Manchester Phoenix Supporters Club