Inspirational Hand leads Phoenix to victory

Sunday, 2nd November 2008

Manchester Phoenix 6 – 2 Cardiff Devils

Manchester Phoenix maintained their good home ice form with a satisfying performance and score over a hard-battling Devils outfit, with player coach Tony Hand the architect with a virtuoso contribution.

On their first visit of the season to Altrincham, the Cardiff Devils came out hard right from the start and the home defence had to stand firm as the Welsh side tried to get the upper hand in the opening exchanges with some strong physical play. Both sides killed early penalties but when Dwight Parrish was somewhat harshly penalised for Tripping late in the session, Hand struck in classic shorthanded fashion as he latched onto an outlet pass to race away and deke Peter Aubry in the Devils goal right on the 19-minute mark.

The second period saw Phoenix enjoy the better of the possession, but the Devils drew level in a 23rd minute powerplay, Lee Cowmeadow beating Stephen Murphy with a quickly taken shot. And the Devils got their noses in front just past the half-hour mark as Mike Prpich slotted home from the left flank. The Phoenix though are not a team that panics and they steadily regained the initiative before hitting Cardiff with two goals in a 24-second spell to regain the lead. First Josh Garbutt crashed home powerplay equaliser and straight from the restart, Dwight Parrish was perfectly positioned to fire his side back in front in the 37th minute – both goals with the involvement of Hand.

Cardiff lost the services of Brad Voth in the second interval and his absence gave the home side some extra space and they increased their lead with a second powerplay goal, captain Kenton Smith aided by Nathan Ward making it a two-goal spread in the 47th minute. Phoenix were now in control and Hand continued to pull the strings as he set up leading scorer David-Alexandre Beauregard in the 54th minute. And the popular French Canadian completed the scoring with the home sides third powerplay marker in the 57th minute to round off another excellent team effort and keep Phoenix in touch with the league leaders.

A Phoenix spokesperson commented, “We got another excellent performance from every player this evening and that is fast becoming the hallmark of the club. We defended in numbers when we had to and we attacked with pace, skill and a belief in our ability to score goals. Every player is contributing and that is testament to the hard work Tony put in during the summer with his recruiting, and he continues to lead by example with another inspirational showing tonight.”

Next weekend sees the Phoenix in a home and home series against the Sheffield Steelers with the Saturday game in Sheffield at 7.00pm before the Sunday return in Altrincham at the usual face-off time of 5.30pm.

Tony Hand

Tony Hand: 1 goal, 3 assists and Man of the Match

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