Beau brace as Phoenix upset Steelers in Challenge Cup win

Sunday, 21st September 2008

Sheffield Steelers 2 – 3 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix stunned the Sheffield Steelers on Sunday night to draw first blood in Group A of the Challenge Cup. A brace from David-Alexandre Beauregard and a slide-rule finish from Kyle Bruce saw the Phoenix take the points from an entertaining encounter in Ice Sheffield.

Phoenix went into the game missing Josh Garbutt, with an ankle ligament injury while the Steelers were without Steve Munn with a badly bruised heel. Phoenix started brightly and with Brett Clouthier and Bruce Mulherin forcing Jody Lehman in early saves while Joe Talbot drew a fine save from Stephen Murphy. The Steelers opened the scoring in the seventh minute as a Phoenix attack broke down when Tony Hand chose to pass inside when he had a clear shooting opportunity and the quick counter ended with Jason Hewitt scoring from the slot. Both sides killed first period penalties and the home side took the one goal lead to the first interval.

Phoenix were quick to equalise in the second period as their first attack reaped its rewards as Hand and Luke Fulghum worked the puck down low for David Beauregard to beat Jody Lehman in the Steelers goal with a wraparound effort. The Yorkshire side were quick to regain the lead as with Dwight Parrish serving an Interference penalty, Ashley Tait arrived at the back post to convert a centring pass from Rod Sarich in the 25th minute. Phoenix thought they’d tied the score again but, Bruce Mulherins’ shot was deemed not to have crossed the line with Steelers Sheppard in the penalty box. The second equaliser soon arrived though as once again, the Phoenix worked the puck deep into the Steelers zone and Beauregard squeezed a backhand shot past Lehman in the 29th minute. Phoenix were then made to defend manfully to deny the Steelers on a 5-on-3 powerplay before they took the lead with a superb strike from Kyle Bruce. The Canadian winger took a feed from Alex Dunn and broke in on the left flank before firing a delicious shot into the top corner from an acute angle in the 37th minute. Sheppard saw a shot rebound off the Phoenix goalframe as the Steelers sought to tie the score before the second interval.

The quick pace of the first two periods continued in the third session as Lehman made early saves from Clouthier and Adam Walker , and the Hand, Fulghum, Beauregard line causing the home side no end of problems. The Steelers hit back and Stephen Murphy came to the fore with a string of impressive saves. Phoenix killed a Slashing penalty on Alex Dunn and were then unlucky as Luke Fulghum was denied on a breakaway. The Steelers pressed hard in the closing minutes, but the Phoenix defence stood firm and the first points of the Cup grouping returned with them to Manchester.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand commented, “That was probably our best team performance so far, we played a really smart road game and I’m very happy with the effort from everybody tonight. We had to re-shuffle the defence with Josh Garbutt missing, but the guys played really well and tightened things up. We also created a lot of scoring opportunities and I thought both goalies made some excellent saves tonight in what was a very good game. I’m delighted with both the result and the performance.”

David-Alexandre Beauregard

Beauregard scored two of the three Phoenix goals and won Man of the Match.

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