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Panthers battle back to take the points

Sunday, 1st February 2009

Manchester Phoenix 2 - 4 Nottingham Panthers

A second period that ended in controversy after going the Phoenix way and a third period fightback by the Nottingham Panthers that included an own goal were the main talking points from a rumbustuous, see-saw game on Sunday evening.

With the first period having ended scoreless and not having sparkled, the game burst into life in the second session as both teams turned up the intensity and physicality of their play. With no quarter being asked or given, tempers came close to fraying on a number of occasions before the deadlock was finally broken in controversial manner. Nottingham had three men in the penalty box as coincidental minors against Phoenix Alex Dunn and Panthers Jade Galbraith expired. Dunn exited the box to latch onto a perfect pass from player coach Tony Hand and ripped a shot into the top corner with 51 seconds remaining on the session. The Panthers protested the legality of the goal claiming play should have been halted as Galbraith was ineligible to return to the ice. The protests lasted a full two minutes, but referee Dean Smyth stood by his decision to award the goal. Phoenix took just 21 further seconds for Lucas Burnett to accept a pass from Dunn and blast home their second marker with the home crowd still cheering the first.

Nottingham re-grouped in the interval, but it took them over eleven minutes to finally break Stephen Murphys' resistance in goal as Richardson won a clean face-off and Galbraith blasted home from the slot. Four minutes later and the visitors were level as Kevin Bergin fired home a pass from former Phoenix star Johan Molin, and Phoenix hearts were broken just eighteen seconds later as Bergin fired the puck to the front of the goal and it deflected past Murphy off the skate of Alex Dunn. Panthers wrapped up the victory right on the hooter as Corey Neilson scored into the unguarded net with Murphy pulled for the extra skater as Phoenix sought a late equaliser.

A Phoenix spokesperson commented, "We feel the 4-2 score is a little unjust on us, that was a one-goal game and it was unfortunate that the game-breaker came off the skate of one of our own guys. Overall, we've played well in both games this weekend against a tough Nottingham outfit. The guys are disappointed not to have taken something from the weekend, but we'll re-group, re-focus and be ready for Wednesday and the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final in Basingstoke."

Phoenix travel to Basingstoke on Wednesday for that Challenge Cup semi-final first leg before a single home game next Saturday with the Coventry Blaze the visitors to the Altrincham Ice Dome for a 6.30pm face-off.

Alex Dunn

Phoenix Man of the Match: Alex Dunn


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