Giants send Phoenix to New Year loss

Saturday, 3rd January 2009

Belfast Giants 3 - 1 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix failed in their attempt to win a second trip to Belfast as in a game that rarely hit the heights, the home side got the goals at vital times to take the points.

A scoreless first period on Saturday night saw both teams almost over respectful in their approach to each other. Phoenix still without the injured Kyle Bruce while the Giants had influential player coach Steve Thornton back in action have misdeed two of his teams Christmas games due to a suspension. Phoenix failed to make the most of an early powerplay opportunity as Stevie Lyle in the home goal was equal to shots from Adam Walker and Bruce Mulherin. The Phoenix defence was coping well with the Belfast rushes although Paul Deniset nearly caught Alex Dunn out, the Phoenix defenceman eventually penalised in preventing what was the home sides best scoring chance of the session.

The second period saw a marked increase in the excitement as the home side opened the scoring seconds after killing a penalty on their captain George Awada as Evan Cheverie drove to the net and forced the puck past Stephen Murphy in the 24th minute. With Phoenix then killing a penalty on David Beauregard, Tony Hand broke up a Giants attack to race away and deke Lyle in the Giants goal, but his shot to the net failed to cross the line. Belfast doubled their lead, shorthanded, in the 33rd minute as Awada blasted the puck through the legs of Murphy from the right wing circle to set the Phoenix a mountain to climb. And their cause suffered a major blow in the 38th minute as Hand was penalised and overstepped the mark in questioning the decision to pick up an additional 10-minute Misconduct penalty

Phoenix worked hard to keep in touch with the Giants as they awaited the return to the ice of Tony Hand, but no sooner had he exited the penalty box than Brett Clouthier was binned for Cross-Checking. Again the penalty-killing unit worked hard, but as Clouthier returned, Giants player coach Steve Thornton banked the puck off the back of Stephen Murphy to give the Giants a three-goal cushion. Phoenix salvaged a consolation goal as Tony Hand netted shorthanded with Kenton Smith in the penalty box in the 59th minute.

A Phoenix spokesperson remarked, “It’s fair to say the game wasn’t a classic as both teams struggled to get going. And the three goals we conceded were all disappointing as two came as we killed penalties and the other was shorthanded. We had great support here tonight from our travelling fans and we’ll look to put things right for them on Sunday at home when we take on the Panthers.”

Stephen Murphy

Despite another Man of the Match performance from Stephen Murphy, the home side managed to take both points

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