Phoenix hit by third period Giants avalanche

Sunday, 18th January 2009

Manchester Phoenix 2 - 8 Belfast Giants

Tied two-apiece after forty minutes on Sunday night, Manchester Phoenix could have been forgiven for expecting another tight period to decide the outcome against the high-flying Giants. The home side certainly did not bargain on the stunning final session from the visitors that saw them run away with the score.

A shell-shocked Phoenix player coach Tony Hand admitted afterwards, "Their third period blew us away. Up to the second interval, I thought we'd played reasonably well and contained their renowned offensive prowess. But, the late goal they scored in the second session and the early goal in the final period set us back. After that, we were chasing the game and as we tried to push forward, we left too many spaces at the back and they took full advantage. It's the first time this season where we've collectively under-performed and hopefully, we've all got the bad game out of our systems in one go."

Up to the devastating final period, the game had been a closely fought affair with good end-to-end play from both sides, and several spurned opportunities in front of each goal as the respective defences held firm in the first period. Stevie Lyle in the Giants net survived an early Phoenix barrage while opposite number Stephen Murphy denied the visiting forwards to ensure a scoreless opening with no inkling of the deluge to come later.

Belfast opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark as leading scorer Paul Deniset continued his incredible form in Manchester with the first of his personal treble haul. Phoenix didn't panic and drew level in the 37th minute as Luke Fulghum made the most of a feed Tony Hand. Phoenix took the lead just over two minutes later, Fulghum again in the right place to finish assists from Hand and David-Alexandre Beauregard with Giants Shane Johnson down on the ice nursing a bang in the mouth. The Giants reacted to the temporary loss of Johnson by roaring back to send the teams to the second interval tied at 2-2 on Denisets' second of the game.

An explosive start to the third period saw Colin Shields fire the Giants ahead after just 19 seconds and after that, with the Phoenix chasing the game, it just seemed that every shot the Giants took found the net. David Phillips and Evan Cheverie gave Belfast a three-goal cushion before a fight broke out between Giants Malcolm MacMillan and Phoenix forward Kyle Bruce. When the dust had settled, Deniset completed his third hat-trick in three games in Altrincham against the Phoenix leaving Bobby Robins and George Awada to add further late strikes to complete a stunning final period for the visitors.

Phoenix travel to Coventry next Saturday before a home game against the Cardiff Devils on Sunday in the Altrincham Ice Dome with a 5.30pm face-off.

Luke Fulghum

Luke Fulghum scored both Phoenix goals

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