Phoenix lose narrowly in the NIC

Saturday, 1st November 2008

Nottingham Panthers 5 - 4 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix were unlucky to leave the National Ice Centre in Nottingham with nothing to show for their efforts in a see-saw and sometimes chippy encounter with the hometown Panthers.

Phoenix returned to the scene of a recent road victory in good heart and looking to repeat and the game saw an explosive start as with just over two minutes played, Panthers hardman Rumun Ndur challenged Brett Clouthier and the Phoenix hitman demonstrated exactly why he picked up the Hard as Ice award last season with a crushing right cross that felled the big Nigerian. The home side were taing early penalties and the visitors opened their account in the 9th minute, Luke Fulghum scoring assisted by Tony Hand and David Beauregard. The Panthers were desperate and continued to draw the wrath of the referee and Phoenix again punished them on the man advantage in the 16th minute, Beauregard tucking home from close range assisted by Fulghum and Alex Dunn. The game exploded again in the final minute of the period as Panthers Tessier, who moments earlier had felled Bruce Mulherin, clashed with the Phoenix forward and stayed down on the ice. While Kyle Bruce restrained Panthers Mac Levers, the referee dismissed Mulherin for what looked a slightly harsh 5+Game penalty for Charging.

The loss of Mulherin meant a readjustment of the offensive lines at the start of the second period that saw the home side reduce the arrears in the 23rd minute, Nick Toneys firing the puck into the top corner. The Panthers drew level four minutes later as a long-range effort by Danny Meyers appeared to take a deflection to beat Stephen Murphy in the Phoenix goal. The home side were now playing with more confidence, but Phoenix weren't backing down and responded superbly to regain the lead in the 35th minute with a delicious finish from Nathan Ward assisted by Lucas Burnett and Kyle Bruce.

The final period saw both teams going for the win and the game see-sawed from one end to the other. Nottingham again drew level as David Clarke tallied in the 45 minute and they took the lead two minutes later as Tessier swept home at the back post with Kenton Smith in the penalty box for Hooking. Nottingham made it a two-goal lead with a tic-tac-toe move in the 51st minute, Brendan Cook the scorer. Phoenix again responded well and Kyle Bruce gave them hope with another sweetly taken goal in the 54th minute. Try as they could though, Phoenix were unable to find a late equaliser and had to settle for the odd goal in nine loss.

A Phoenix spokesperson remarked, "We got a great start and played well throughout, but the loss of Bruce (Mulherin) was disappointing. WE gave a solid effort, showed great resilience and tenacity, and in the end were unlucky not to get something from the game. We've got a few bumps and bruises from a tough game, but we'll be ready on Sunday as we go up against Cardiff for the first time this season."

Phoenix face-off against the Cardiff Devils at the Altrincham Ice Dome on Sunday with a 5.30pm face-off.