King hat-trick sees Phoenix past the Freeze

Monday, 2nd February 2009

Flintshire Freeze 4 - 6 Manchester Phoenix ENL

Playing their second local derby match of the weekend on Sunday, the Phoenix ENL squad made the short trip to Deeside and a game that developed into a battle royale with the Flintshire Freeze.

Following their sluggish opening against Lancashire on Saturday, Phoenix raced out of the traps to open the scoring in just the second minute. Andy Ritchie crossed the puck to Sean Day on the right boards who one-timed a pass to Arran Richardson and his fierce slapshot beat Flintshire goalie Paul Crosby through his legs. Crosby was stunned at the error, but to his credit, he managed to shrug it off and played the remainder of the game with courage and skill. Manchester were well on top, outshooting their hosts and they doubled their advantage in the 14th minute as Tom King bagged the first of his personal treble from close range assisted by Phil Hamer and Sean Day. At the first interval, it was a contented Phoenix who took the lead to the locker room, thinking of tight defence and more goals to come.

Rarely though do things go as well as is hoped for and Flintshire reduced the arrears two minutes into the second period, Gary Dixon the scorer. The home side were visibly buoyed and the Phoenix surprised and it took them until the 34th minute to re-establish a two-goal margin, Ritchie again the provider for Ashton Jenion to score. Three minutes later and King added his second of the game on assists from Day and Ben Wood, but the Freeze were not overawed and bit back through James Parsons to share the period scoring.

The third period started with the Phoenix looking to maintain and add to their two-goal lead, but they were stunned as Flintshire made it a one-goal game shorthanded as Mark Lovell skated the length of the ice giving Danny Bullock the pass to make it 3-4. The 48th minute saw Lovell adjudged a 2+10 for Checking from Behind and an extraordinary display of temper from Ric Hughes ended with him being ejected from the game. Oddly, this seemed to energise the Freeze more than the Phoenix as Danny Bullock tied the game with his second of the night in the 54th minute. But, Phoenix dug in and the momentum swung again when Tom King completed his hat-trick, again assisted by Sean Day and with the Freeze throwing everything forward seeking a late equaliser, Pete Traynor was able to secure the victory and the points with a shorthanded effort in the final minute.

A Phoenix ENL official said "At the end of the first we seemed to leave the ice thinking that the Freeze' morale was down and we could take the game; as we had on the previous visit. Teams like the Freeze are rarely beaten like that. We came home with the victory, but it was hard-won and in doubt right up to the end. Next week is the crunch game (NB against Telford Titans) and we can't be as casual in our mental approach as we started tonight. I'm sure the guys are fully aware of the importance of that game. We'll be without the Under 18s, but Dave Costelloe will be back into the reckoning. It's going to be a humdinger."

Man of the match for Phoenix: Tom King

Period Scores: 0-2, 2-2, 2-2

Shots on Goal: (Shots on Phoenix first) Total: 26-41

Phoenix Stats: Sean Day 0+4, Tom King 3+0, Phil Hamer 0+2, Andy Ritchie 0+2, Pete Traynor 1+0, Ashton Jenion 1+0, Arran Richardson 0+1, Ben Wood 0+1

Nets: Tom MacDonald 26/4 (84.62%)