Phoenix edged as Steelers hang on

Sunday, 9th November 2008

Manchester Phoenix 4 - 5 Sheffield Steelers

Manchester Phoenix were unable to reverse Saturday nights loss to the Sheffield Steelers as the Yorkshire outfit hung on for victory on Sunday in a game that bristled throughout.

With Tony Hand and Stephen Murphy still away with the GB National team Phoenix went into Sundays game also without influential forward Bruce Mulherin out with a shoulder injury sustained on Saturday. German-born Canadian Jacey Moore took the netminding role as Phoenix played in specially commissioned shirts for the BBC Children in Need appeal.

In a quick opening Joey Talbot gave the Steelers a second minute leading converting at the back post before Brett Clouthier equalised with a telling deflection to a Lucas Burnett shot just 33 seconds later. Jeff Legue restored the visitors lead in the sixth minute converting on their first powerplay opportunity but once again the Phoenix responded quickly with Nathan Ward equalising just over a minute later. Phoenix had the better of the scoring opportunities, but the teams went to the first break tied at 2-2.

The intense pace of the game continued in the second session with both goalies making some excellent saves as the respective forwards tried to gain the upper hand. Brett Clouthier and Scott Basiuk traded punches with the Phoenix man picking up an extra penalty as the tension between the two sides threatened to come to a head. Phoenix thought they’d grabbed the lead on a 33rd minute powerplay as David-Alexandre Beauregard netted with a wraparound but referee Marco Coenen adjudged that the net was off its mooring before the puck crossed the line. This proved to be a key point as shortly afterwards Ryan Finnerty edged the Steelers in front and before the home side could recover, Rod Sarich gave the visitors a two-goal cushion.

Striving to get something from the weekend, Phoenix put the Steelers under early pressure in the third period with Jody Lehman making huge saves to deny Alex Dunn and Brett Clouthier. The noisy home crowd were boosted in the 48th minute as Ward bagged his second of the game and the atmosphere intensified still further. But the Steelers were always dangerous on the break and Talbot added a fifth marker in the 55th minute. Still the Phoenix weren’t finished and with just over three minutes to play Lucas Burnett again made it a one-goal game. Phoenix pulled netminder Moore inside the final minute, but could force another equaliser and the game finished on a sour note as Kyle Bruce was assessed a 5+Game Misconduct for Fighting while Steve Munn of the Steelers only picked up a two minute minor for Roughing.

Phoenix captain Kenton Smith commented, “We were better tonight, played with more intensity and passion and we were unlucky not to get something from the game. We all thought that David had given us the lead, but the ref thought otherwise and they made the most of that by scoring two quickly to take the period. Missing Tony and Murph was tough, but to lose Bruce Mulherin was another big loss to us. We’ll bounce back though, we have great character in the room and we’ll learn from the errors we made and come back stronger.”

Stand-in goalie Jacey Moore commented, "It was an honour to play for the Phoenix tonight, I'm gutted that I could help the team get a win. The atmosphere in this building is amazing, the fans were right behind me and all the guys and I'm sure this team will go a long way this season. It was a privilege to be asked to play and despite the result, I enjoyed every minute of it."

Next weekend sees the Phoenix with just one game, at home in Altrincham with the Belfast Giants the visitors in 5.30pm face-off.

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