Hand treble as Phoenix complete four-point weekend

Sunday, 23rd November 2008

Edinburgh Capitals 4 - 6 Manchester Phoenix

Tony Hand will need at least next one more weekend to claim his 4,000th career point despite bagging a tremendous personal hat-trick as his Phoenix team recorded a four-point weekend with victory in his hometown rink in Edinburgh.

Phoenix travelled north seeking two more valuable league points after Saturdays victory over Hull, but sub-consciously knowing that a special night for player coach Tony Hand MBE could see him reach an unprecedented milestone of 4,000 points in British domestic ice hockey.

In a bright opening to the game, both goalies made early saves as play swung end-to-end. Phoenix opened the scoring in the fifth minute, Alex Dunn converting a feed from Nathan Ward with a shot from the right circle. Edinburgh hit back with Stephen Murphy in the Phoenix goal called upon to make good saves from Christiansen and Hurtubice and entertaining first period ended with the visitors ahead by that sole Dunn strike.

Phoenix took a firm grip of the game early in the second session as Tony Hand bagged a brace in the space of just 21 seconds in the 24th minute. Edinburgh failed to clear their defensive zone and Hand was perfectly positioned at the back post to sweep home a rebound after the home goalie had saved from Luke Fulghum. And straight from the restart, Robinson in the Capitals goal made a hash of a Fulghum shot and Hand gleefully tapped home his second of the game. Edinburgh reduced the deficit on a 27th minute powerplay as with Kenton Smith in the penalty box, Andrej Rajcak pounced to score from close range. The goal boosted the home side but Phoenix restored the 3-goal cushion in the 35th minute, leading scorer David-Alexandre Beauregard showing why he’s the leagues’ most feared forward. Edinburgh rallied again as Rajcak claimed his second of the game with a rising shot to the top corner that caught Murphy out in the 38th minute.

Tony Hand moved to within touching distance of his personal target of 4,000 career points in the 42nd minute taking a pass from Lucas Burnett to complete his hat-trick on the night and move Phoenix into 5-2 lead. Hand then had a glorious chance to make history on a short-handed breakaway, but Robinson in the Capitals goal did just enough to stall the headline writers. Once again Edinburgh picked up their game and despite leaving it late, made it a one-goal game as first captain Martin Cingel fired a long-range wrist shot and then Rajcak completed his treble haul on a breakaway to set up a tense final three minutes. Phoenix sealed the victory in the final minute as Kyle Bruce scored into the empty net after Capitals had withdrawn their goalie for the extra skater.

Reflecting upon the weekend, Tony Hand commented, “Before the weekend, everyone knew that we needed a maximum haul from these two games to get us back on track, and we‘ve done just that. The guys worked hard tonight as Edinburgh wouldn’t lie down and kept trying to peg us back – we maybe switched off a couple of times, but we also always seemed able to move up another gear. As for the 4,000 points, I’d love to have done it here tonight, it’s where I began my career and my Mum, wife and children were all here, but sadly it wasn’t to be.”

Next weekend sees the Phoenix travel to the Hull Stingrays on Saturday before hosting the Cardiff Devils at the Altrincham Ice Dome on Sunday with a 5.30pm face-off.

Tony Hand

Tony Hand: Now only one point shy from the landmark 4000

Stephen Murphy

Stephen Murphy: Man of the Match

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