Phoenix fall to Martin double as Giants move second

Tuesday, 17th February 2009

Belfast Giants 2 - 1 Manchester Phoenix

Tuesday night action for the Manchester Phoenix saw them travel to Belfast for a bmibaby Elite League game against the club for whom victory would move them into second place in the table. Phoenix and the Giants will also face-off against each other in the final of the Challenge Cup - would the league encounter offer any clues to the upcoming Cup Final?

Belfast gave player coach Steve Thornton the night off together with Paul Sample and this meant a lot of double-shifting for leading scorer Paul Deniset and his sniping partner Andrew Martin. Phoenix with an eye on Wednesday evenings Knockout Cup game in Whitely Bay, eased their way into the game only to fall behind in the seventh minute as Martin beat Murphy for the opening goal. The Giants dominated the possession and the shots on goal although Stevie Lyle in the home goal needed to be alert to deny Alex Dunn late in the session.

Phoenix increased the pace in the second session before successfully defending a Tripping penalty on Josh Garbutt. Both goalies then showed their skills as Murphy denied Deniset on a point blank effort before Lyle responded to deny David-Alexandre Beauregard. A clash in the corner between George Awada and Bruce Mulherin saw the Giants skipper binned for Cross-Checking, but Phoenix failed to make the most of the powerplay opportunity. Phoenix though were playing with confidence and gave the Giants a warning when Lucas Burnett spun on a sixpence only to see a short range shot from the slot hit the goalpost. And with just over two minutes on the period, Phoenix deservedly drew level as Tony Hand worked his magic behind the net to pick out Beauregard who netted with ease to send the teams to the second interval tied at 1-1.

Phoenix started brightly in the final period firing early shots on the Giants net, but a turnover on their own blueline ended with Andrew Martin netting his second of the game and what proved to be the game winning score. Phoenix continued to try and press forward and in an open, if not intense, game they made several opportunities however, were unable to breach the Giants rearguard. Inside the final minute, phoenix pulled Stephen Murphy for the extra skater, but the Giants broke down the ice and only a last-ditch effort by Bruce Mulherin prevented them adding the empty-netter.

A Phoenix spokesperson noted, "We've got a really heavy schedule coming up and still being in both cup competitions and with a Knockout Cup game tomorrow, we had to play a sensible, if somewhat conservative game to maintain our energy levels. We meet the Giants again in the Challenge Cup final soon and I'm sure both teams are looking forward to the chance to lift the first silverware of the season."

Phoenix travel to Whitley Bay on Wednesday for the first leg of the semi-final tie with the Newcastle Vipers, the return leg in Altrincham is on Thursday February 26th with a 7.15pm face-off.

David-Alexandre Beauregard

David-Alexandre Beauregard scored the only goal for Phoenix

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