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Phoenix team effort secures valuable road win

Saturday, 13th September 2008

Basingstoke Bison 3 - 4 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix maintained their bright start to the new bmibaby Elite League season with a battling Saturday night victory over the Basingstoke Bison.

With netminder Stephen Murphy earning the Man of the Match award and the Phoenix getting goals from four different players, head coach Tony Hand reacted to the result saying, “That was a battle, not a pretty game but a pleasing result all the same. They came out hard and we had to soak up some pressure and the key was us taking our chances at vital teams to take a little of the wind out of their sails. The ice wasn’t great tonight and I think that affected both teams, I know we can play better for sure but we can’t complain about another two points gained from a solid team effort.”

Eager to please the home support, the Bison attacked right from the start trying to pressure the Phoenix with a strong physical approach. The quick start took Phoenix somewhat by surprise as Mark Richardson gave the Bison a 7th minute lead assisted by Thompson and Cornish. Bison then began to run into penalty trouble as Curtis Patrick and Brent Hughes went to the penalty box but, Phoenix were unable to capitalise on the resulting two-man advantage for over a minute. Phoenix successfully killed an Interference penalty on Kyle Bruce and when Richardson was called for Holding, Phoenix drew level on the powerplay as Dwight Parrish fed Josh Garbutt for the equaliser in the 18th minute.

Three minutes in to the second session and with the Phoenix on another powerplay, debutant defenceman Kenton Smith fired Phoenix into the lead assisted by Adam Walker. However the visitors pleasure was quickly wiped out as within a minute the home side drew level, Brent Hughes the scorer with Phoenix player/coach Tony Hand in the penalty box on a Tripping infringement. Just before the midway point of the game, Phoenix gained another five-on-three powerplay opportunity as Cruikshank and Patrick drew minor penalties. The Bison to their credit, defended manfully to get both players back onto the ice but, the 35th minute saw Kyle Bruce, unassisted, fire Phoenix back in front and into a lead they took into the second interval.

Phoenix came out in determined fashion for the final period and quickly stamped their authority on the game taking just 16 seconds for Tony Hand to feed David-Alexandre Beauregard to bag his fifth goal of the season and give the visitors a two-goal spread. Both sides then killed penalties before the Bison reduced the arrears inside the final five minutes with Greg Chambers scoring on a powerplay with Grant Jacobsen off the ice for Tripping. Now it was the Phoenix turn to dig deep as they fought to defend their lead and they defended magnificently in the dying minutes to preserve their unbeaten start to the season and set up an intriguing Sunday night clash with the free-scoring Nottingham Panthers.

Phoenix are in action on Sunday evening in a 5.30pm face-off top-of-the-table clash with the Nottingham Panthers at the Altrincham Ice Dome.

Goalie Stephen Murphy after a GB training session

Phoenix Man of the Match: Netminder Stephen Murphy


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