Phoenix ease past Stingrays into KO Cup semi-final

Saturday, 14th February 2009

Hull Stingrays 3 - 4 Manchester Phoenix

Phoenix win 8-3 on aggregate.

Manchester Phoenix eased into the semi-finals of the Knockout Cup with a thoroughly professional and comprehensive victory over a short-staffed Stingrays outfit on Saturday night.

While well over a hundred Phoenix fans boosting the crowd and noise levels in the Hull Ice Arena, Phoenix went about their work in some style, looking to protect their four goal first leg lead and add to whenever possible. They dominated the first period play including killing a High Sticking penalty on Luke Fulghum with the Stingrays failing to get a shot on Stephen Murphy in the full two minutes of powerplay advantage. Curtis Cruickshank in the home goal was much the busier and made a string of good saves before the Phoenix finally broke his resistance in the 14th minute. Excellent approach work by Josh Garbutt and Bruce Mulherin ended with Kyle Bruce scoring to give the visitors a five-goal spread in the tie. A little under two minutes later and if the outcome of the tie had been in doubt, it was decided as Kenton Smith fired a shot from the left wing point through traffic that Cruickshank didn't see.

The second period followed a similar pattern to that of the opening session with Phoenix in control and playing a calm, controlled game and enjoying the lion's share of the possession and goalscoring chances. The third goal came in the 27th minute with another free-flowing move started by Tony Hand, involving David-Alexandre Beauregard and finished with a flourish by Luke Fulghum. Understandably, the Phoenix eased up slightly and Hull reduced the arrears with a dipsy-doodle finish from Konstantin Kalmikov in the 33rd minute.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand took to the bench coaching role for the final stanza as Hull replaced Cruickshank with back-up goalie Andrew Jaszczyk and he was joined by Phoenix back-up Adam Summerfield between the pipes with twelve minutes left on the clock. Phoenix added a fourth marker in the 53rd minute as Nathan Ward and the impressive Fulghum sent Beauregard in one-on-one and he undid Jaszczyk before netting on the backhand. The Phoenix squad could be forgiven for switching their thoughts to Sundays' Challenge Cup tie with Basingstoke and this slight relaxation allowed Hull to put a mark of respectability on the score line as Jeff Glowa and lee Mitchell added late strikes for the home side.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand commented, "We gave a solid all-round performance tonight against a side missing four first-team regulars. We were professional and thorough in all departments tonight until those last couple of minutes when we eased up. I was pleased with the application and I'm sure the guys will be boosted going into Sunday's second leg against Basingstoke in the Challenge Cup. I'd like to say a huge thank you to the superb support we got tonight from so many travelling fans - magnificent."

Adam Summerfield

Adam Summerfield took to the ice towards the end of the match for a 12-minute battle of the back-ups.

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