Second period slumber costs Phoenix their first loss

Sunday, 14th September 2008

Manchester Phoenix 3 - 5 Nottingham Panthers

A four-minute spell in the second period saw the Nottingham Panthers wrestle the lead from the Manchester Phoenix and condemn the home side to their first defeat of the new season.

Phoenix were at full strength for this early season top-of-the-table clash with the Panthers and in a blistering start, both goalies made smart saves before Phoenix opened the scoring in just the second minute. Dwight Parrish found he defensive partner Luke Boothroyd on the left flank and his shot to the net was neatly re-directed by Luke Fulghum making his home debut. Phoenix were looking sharp and putting the Panthers defence under pressure but, a penalty against Grant Jacobsen gave the visitors the chance to equalise on the resulting powerplay and Brendan Cook tied the score in the sixth minute. Phoenix continued to have the better of the play and Davis Parley in the Panthers net was called upon to make telling saves from David Beauregard and Kenton Smith. Phoenix regained the lead in the 12th minute as Grant Jacobsen atoned for his earlier penalty by scoring on a Phoenix powerplay assisted by Brett Clouthier and Dwight Parrish.

Into the second period and Phoenix were seemingly in control of the game until they inexplicably lost concentration in defence for a four-minute spell that allowed the Panthers to recover and jump into a two-goal lead at the second break. First Cook bagged his second of the game in the 33rd minute and then two strikes in 25 seconds in the 37th minute from James Ferrara and Matt Myers stunned the home team and their supporters.

Phoenix responded in the third period with wave after wave of attacked and a combination of excellent netminding by Parley in the Panthers goal and some errant finishing denied them the goals they needed. Entering the latter stages of the game and the Panthers struck again through Robert Lachowitz in the 56th minute to secure the points. Phoenix weren't finished though and just under a minute later a long-range blast from Dwight Parrish deceived Parley. Phoenix used their timeout to pull goalie Stephen Murphy and were fortunate when an empty-net finish by Bruce Richardson was ruled offside or the score line would have looked a lot worse than their effort deserved.

Player coach Tony Hand mused, "I thought we were unlucky tonight not to take something from the game. Nottingham are a good side and I take nothing from them but, I thought we were on top for long periods of the game and had our finishing been sharper, we could have been three of four goals ahead in the first period alone. It's disappointing to lose the game however, I know we've got a lot more to come. Now the team are all here, we'll have three good training sessions this week and that will really help us going into next weekend."

Phoenix are at home next Saturday evening in a 6.30pm face-off against the Edinburgh Capitals before travelling to Sheffield on Sunday for a Challenge Cup clash with the Steelers.