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Slick Phoenix through to Challenge Cup Final

Sunday, 15th February 2009

Manchester Phoenix 6 - 1 Basingstoke Bison

Phoenix win 11-3 on aggregate

Despite a valiant effort by the Basingstoke Bison, Manchester Phoenix cruised through to their first Cup Final appearance with a comfortable Sunday night victory.

A hat trick from the seemingly unstoppable David-Alexandre Beauregard was the highlight of a superb all-round team performance as the Phoenix chase silverware in both the Knockout and Challenge Cup competitions.

With a three-goal cushion from the first leg, Phoenix didn't take things easy as the Bison came to play and made them work hard for their one goal in a very competitive opening period. The only goal of the session came on a sixth minute powerplay as Tony Hand and Beauregard combined to feed Bruce Mulherin to blast home a howitzer shot from the slot. Kevin Reiter in the Bison goal was much the busier, but Stephen Murphy too had to be sharp in the Phoenix net as the visitors, roared on by a massive travelling support, refused to lie down and accept the inevitable.

The second session saw Beauregard step forward with the first two goals of his personal treble. Just past the half-hour mark a sweeping move started by Luke Boothroyd saw Luke Fulghum find the leagues leading sniper and he made no mistake. Just over seven minutes later, the tie was effectively decided as Alex Dunn and Hand provided the assists as Beauregard bamboozled Reiter before netting the third. Phoenix were now in total control, but a spirited Bison continued to make them work hard for their openings in front of goal.

The final period saw Bison get on the scoreboard as a crunching shot from Corey LeClair beat Murphy in the 48th minute, but it only served to inspire the Phoenix into further goalscoring exploits. Two more markers were added in the space of 25 seconds in the 52nd minute as Mulherin notched his second of the game and barely had the cheers subsided, Beauregard completed his hat trick. Both teams changed their goalies in the 54th minute and a minute later, Kyle Bruce with Phoenix beat Graeme Bird in the Bison net on a powerplay to rubber stamp the Phoenix qualification for their first Cup Final and a two-legged tie with the Belfast Giants in March.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand speaking after the game commented, "Basingstoke are on a horrible run of results right now, but I give them tremendous credit for their effort tonight. They made a game of it, they refused to roll over and their supporters were as good for them tonight as ours were for us in Hull. Overall, I'm very pleased with the way my guys have applied themselves this weekend. We had good leads going into both games, but we took both games very seriously and got the job done because of a solid work ethic and a professional approach to the job to be done."

Phoenix travel to Belfast on Tuesday for an Elite League game against the Giants and then to Whitley Bay on Wednesday for the first leg of the Knockout Cup semi-final against the Newcastle Vipers.

Josh Garbutt

Phoenix Man of the Match - Josh Garbutt


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