Phoenix find Blaze too hot to handle

Saturday, 28th February 2009

Manchester Phoenix 2 - 6 Coventry Blaze

Despite a battling effort, Manchester Phoenix found the Coventry Blaze too hot to handle on Saturday night as the recent run of seven games in fifteen nights finally took its toll.

An evenly fought first period saw the teams deadlocked after ten minutes, but one the Blaze broke the deadlock, their forwards took control and sending into the first interval with a three goal lead. Both sides had good scoring chances in the opening exchanges and both goalies, Stephen Murphy and JF Perras needed to be on their mettle. Coventry grabbed the advantage just past the eleven-minute mark as Sylvain Deschatelets netted from close range. Two minutes later it was Russ Cowley doubling the visitors lead with a sharp finish and Coventry completed an excellent period with Erik Hjalmarsson adding a third marker in the 18th minute.

Phoenix picked their game up in the second session and worked hard trying to peg back the defending league champions. But it took them until the 36th minute before they finally got their reward, Brett Clouthier invigorating the home crowd finishing assists from Alex Dunn and Kyle Bruce.

Phoenix came out hard for the final session, putting the Blaze under early pressure and in doing so, drawing a penalty on Watkins to give themselves an early powerplay. But disaster struck as trying the play the puck behind his own net, Stephen Murphy was dispossessed by Adam Calder who calmly scored shorthanded into the unguarded net in the 43rd minute. Phoenix cut the deficit to three on the same powerplay as captain Kenton Smith blasted home from the point and the home crowd had hope again. But, the Blaze were to prove too strong and they again opened up a three goal margin in the 54th minute as Barrie Moore fired home from the slot leaving Cowley to bag his second of the game in the 56th minute.

A Phoenix spokesperson noted, "At times we competed well tonight, but against a side like Coventry, you need to play well for the full sixty minutes. We've had a lot of games recently and I think a little bit of fatigue was evident tonight. We've no game on Sunday and the extra days rest before Tuesday and the Basingstoke game will help all the guys."

Phoenix host the Basingstoke Bison on Tuesday evening in a 7.15pm face-off before a Thursday home date with the Edinburgh Capitals, also at 7.15pm.

Brett Clouthier

Brett Clouthier scored the first Phoenix goal and earned the Man of the Match award.

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