Phoenix undone by Deniset and on-fire Giants

Saturday, 4th October 2008

Manchester Phoenix 3-6 Belfast Giants

Manchester Phoenix head coach Tony Hand had no complaints as his side dropped two points in the Challenge Cup to an in-form and red-hot Belfast side on Saturday night, with Paul Deniset bagging a hat-trick.

“I didn’t think we played too badly tonight, we just happened to be up against the best side we’ve played this year,” remarked Hand. “We had to make a couple of adjustments because of the loss of [Grant] Jacobsen and whilst we worked hard, I take nothing away from the Giants, they are the best team we’ve met so far and they’ll take some stopping.”

Belfast gave an early warning of their offensive power as David Phillips saw a shot crash back into play off a post with just over a minute played but, it was Phoenix who got the scoreboard moving as Hand scored a sweetie into the top corner on the teams first powerplay opportunity in the seventh minute. The Giants showed good composure and hit back with a quickfire brace in the final minute of the period, Burgoyne blasting the equaliser and Paul Deniset bagging the first of his personal hat-trick to send the visitors to the break with the narrow lead.

Belfast again hit the goalframe in the opening seconds of the second period and their constant pressure brought them a third goal in the 26th minute as a defensive turnover allowed Giants captain George Awada the chance to score against his former club. The Giants were now in control and defending well against a spirited Phoenix team who were caught out just past the half hour mark as a sweeping move ended with Deniset bagging his second at the back post.

The final period saw Belfast open up a four goal lead as Awada notched his second of the game before Phoenix rallied. Josh Garbutt, back from an ankle injury, blasted home in the 45th minute and Phoenix supporters hoped were further raised in the 52nd minute as Alex Dunn netted from close range to put the home side within two. Deniset though had other ideas and with Phoenix on a powerplay and understandably over-committing to attack, he finished a pass from Phillips to complete his treble and seal the Giants victory with the short-handed insurance goal in the 57th minute.

Hand added, “We’ve identified a new player to come and join the team, and we’ll be working hard this week to try and get him into the UK as quickly as possible. He’s a big, strong guy who will certainly give us more size and a greater physical presence, and the references indicate a clever player too. Tonight showed that one guy short for us and with the Giants having Steve Thornton available was very influential to the outcome of the game. We’ll bounce back though and with the new guy, we’ll get stronger too.”

Luke Fulghum

Luke Fulghum won Man of the Match for Phoenix

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