Phoenix draw first blood in War of the Roses

Saturday, 12th September 2009

Sheffield Scimitars 2 - 3 Manchester Phoenix

Despite having had just two training sessions prior to Saturday's first leg clash with the Scimitars, Tony Hand and his new-look Phoenix squad too victory in the first leg of this weekends War of the Roses games.

An entertaining first period in front of a crowd boasting a large contingent from Manchester ended scoreless despite several good scoring opportunities for both sides. Steve Fone in the Phoenix goal was in good form with a number of impressive saves while his opposite number Ben Bowns also made some good stops, notably from Adam Walker and Robert Lachowicz. And it was Lachowicz who missed the best opportunity as he failed to connect onto a pass from Tony Hand with the goal gaping.

Phoenix opened the scoring in the 26th minute when laying short-handed with Iain Bowie in the penalty box, James Neil split the Scimitars defence with a long outlet pass to find Lachowicz in space and the summer signing duly netted. Phoenix were now dominating proceedings and they made a number of excellent chances without adding to their lead. The home side recovered and drew level on 34 minutes, Stephen Wallace converting at the back post. Phoenix regained the lead just over two minutes later as player coach Tony Hand collected a cross ice pass from Jaakko Hagelberg to score into the roof of the net. Sheffield dug in and tied the period at two goals apiece with Simon Butterworth squeezing the puck through the legs of Fone in the Phoenix goal.

Phoenix scored what proved to be the game-winning goal just over two minutes into the final period as Hand re-paid the compliment by setting up Jaakko Hagelberg who gave Bowns no chance with a clinical finish.

A Phoenix spokesperson commented afterwards, "It was a good workout for the boys. They've only had a short time together, but the signs were promising. Sheffield showed they are a hard working side so we're pleased to have a narrow lead going into Sunday's home game in Altrincham. There should be a good atmosphere for the second leg, the fans seemed to enjoy the game and winning any War of the Roses game is always that extra bit special."

Phoenix vs Scimitars in the second leg of the War of the Roses is a 5.30pm face-off at the Altrincham Ice Dome. Tickets priced just £6 are still available with the proceeds going to the Phoenix Junior Development programme.