Plucky 'Rays push Phoenix all the way

Sunday, 26th October 2008

Manchester Phoenix 6 - 4 Hull Stingrays

Manchester Phoenix returned to winning ways on Sunday night, but they were pushed all the way by a Hull Stingrays outfit who refused to buckle under the home sides pressure.

Phoenix opened brightly and but for some agile netminding by Stringrays Curtis Cruickshank could have two goals ahead in the opening couple of minutes as he turned away shots from Brett Clouthier and Luke Fulghum. Phoenix were dominated the opening exchanges but found the opposition defensively well drilled and it wasn't until the 18th minute that the home side finally took the lead. Just a second after the Stingrays had killed a penalty on Jeff Glowa, defenceman Dwight Parrish blasted the Phoenix ahead assisted by Bruce Mulherin and Nathan Ward.

Phoenix doubled their lead just 26 seconds into the second period as Cruickshank failed to stop a short range effort from David-Alexandre Beauregard after the Phoenix leading scorer had broken the length of the ice. Phoenix were again enjoying the majority of possession, but Hull were dangerous on the counter-attack and they reduced the arrears on the 37th minute as Jeff Glowa netted from close range.

The third period wasn't a minute old before Phoenix had regained their two-goal advantage, Kyle Bruce reacting quickly to score at the back post from another feed from Ward. With the home fans expecting Hull to capitulate, they were stunned in the 47th minute as Glowa fired his second of the game. Phoenix again made it a two-goal spread thanks to a powerplay finish from Alex Dunn in the 49th minute but Hull again hit back as a terrific shot from Kalmikov beat Stephen Murphy just over a minute later. Tied at 4-4, the game appeared to heading for overtime, but Phoenix Man of the Match Nathan Ward had other ideas and he netted the go-ahead goal with just over three minutes to play. Straining for another equaliser, Hull lifted their goalie for the extra skater and that allowed Phoenix to add the insurance empty-netter, Beauregard with his second of the game to finally sink the Stingrays.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand noted, "We played well again, but were perhaps a little guilty of easing up with a two-goal lead and they made us pay. I thought we were always in control, but I credit the Hull side for their never-say-die attitude even after losing Stuart Kerr in the first period. They made us play the full sixty minutes the pleasing thing is that we stuck at it and got the result. I think we're a stronger team than last year, and so are Hull. It might not have been a classic, but there was no shortage of endeavour from both sets of players."

Next weekend sees the Phoenix return to Nottingham on Saturday for another clash with the Panthers before hosting the first visit of the season by the Cardiff Devils to Altrincham on Sunday with a 5.30pm face-off.

Nathan Ward

Nathan Ward scored the 5th goal for Phoenix and earned the Man of the Match award.

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