Phoenix win again in shootout drama

Sunday, 28th September 2008

Manchester Phoenix 2-1 Sheffield Steelers

Manchester Phoenix again needed the penalty shootout to claim victory on Sunday night, but it was no more than they deserved as they continued their excellent start to the new season.

“We’ve taken 11 points from a possible 14 to start the season,” beamed player coach Tony Hand, “and I’m very pleased with the way things are going. We played a really solid game tonight as we knew they’d come hard but, we were disciplined, controlled and got our just desserts.”

Phoenix started at breakneck pace and totally dominated the opening exchanges, forcing Jody Lehman in the Steelers goal into a string of quality saves. Totally against the run of play, it was Sheffield who took the lead in the 11th minute. Sheppard won a face-off in the phoenix zone and when Talbot fed Rod Sarich, his shot from the blueline was too powerful for Stephen Murphy. Phoenix were stunned, but quickly got back into their stride in outshooting the Steelers 12-5 before the first break.

Sheffield enjoyed more possession in the second period however, it was the Phoenix winning most of the 50-50 battles and making the better scoring chances. Phoenix though fell foul of officialdom and four times they had to defend Steelers powerplays. And the home side did just that and punished their opponents with a telling and timely shorthanded equaliser just before the second interval. Tony Hand raced deep into the Steelers end and leading scorer David-Alexandre Beauregard squeezed his pass to the net past Lehman.

Unlike last season, this years Manchester Phoenix have a belief about themselves and they continued to take the game to the Steelers in the third period. Sheffield though had their moments and Stephen Murphy showed his skills between the pipes as neither side could produce a regulation time winner. Phoenix had the better of the five-minute overtime period with Lehman denying Nathan Ward to force the game into the penalty shootout.

Beauregard scored for the Phoenix with their first attempt and Murphy made three quality saves from Jeff Legue, Joey Talbot and Nathan Gillies to send the home support into raptures of delight.

A Phoenix spokesperson added, “the fans have seen two good teams out there tonight. Once again, we’ve served up some top quality entertainment and sent the fans home with a smile on their face. We’ve had an excellent start to the season and we want to keep things going next weekend when we’re back in Challenge Cup action. We’ve not seen Belfast yet this season and with them top of the league right now, next Saturday promises to be a barn-burner.”

Phoenix are at home next Saturday evening in a 6.30pm face-off against the Belfast Giants in the Challenge Cup, before travelling to Whitley Bay on Sunday for a 4.30pm face-off against the Newcastle Vipers, also in the Cup competition.

David-Alexandre Beauregard

David-Alexandre Beauregard scored the winning penalty shot and won Man of the Match for Phoenix

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