Phoenix lift War of the Roses trophy

Sunday, 13th September 2009

Manchester Phoenix 3 - 3 Sheffield Scimitars
Phoenix win 6-5 on aggregate.

Twelve hundred hockey fans passed up the Sunday afternoon sunshine to watch the Manchester Phoenix and the Sheffield Scimitars do battle in the second leg of this War of the Roses Challenge series, and they were not disappointed. A see-saw game was well worthy of the title as both sides gave and asked for no quarter, and in a nail-biting finale, it was the Phoenix who held firm to claim their first silverware of the new ice hockey season.

Captain for the weekend Andre Payette beamed his delight at lifting the superb Rose Bowl claiming, "we've got a few bumps and bruises after these two games, but there'll be little pain as we lifted a trophy. Success is infectious and I'm hoping that having had an early taste, the guys will be even hungrier for more as the season progresses. Sheffield, to their credit, fought hard tonight and we had to dig deep having had only two practise sessions ahead of the games. We'll work hard this week as the real thing starts next weekend with a tough road trip to Basingstoke before we face Swindon in our home opener."

Phoenix had to kill off two early penalties before opening the scoring themselves on their first man advantage, defenceman Andre Mattsson firing home assisted by Robert Lachowicz in the sixth minute. With the game being played at a frenetic pace and with plenty of physical contact from both sides, Phoenix lost Adam Walker with a face injury before the Scimitars drew level on the night through James Archer.

The second period saw Sheffield race out of the blocks to tie the aggregate score with less than a minute played, captain Peter Slamiar beating Fone from a tight angle off the right wing. Boosted by this early strike, the visitors set about imposing their greater squad numbers on the Phoenix and enjoying more of the possession they kept Phoenix netminder Steve Fone busy. Phoenix re-grouped and regained the lead just before the half-hour mark as Iain Bowie scored from close range assisted by Andre Payette and the hard-working Lachowicz. Seven minutes later and the home side appeared to take a stranglehold on the game as Greg Wood fired home with assists to Jaakko Hagelberg and player coach Tony Hand.

The start of the final period again saw the Scimitars explode out of the traps with Slamiar claiming his second goal of the game to again tie the score on the night. It was now all to play for and the pace of the game barely relented as the Scimitars strove for the goal that would tie the aggregate score while the Phoenix defended doggedly and always looked dangerous on the break. With time running out, Sheffield pulled their goalie in favour of an extra attacker, but the Phoenix held firm and came close to scoring the insurance empty-netter as Greg Woods' long range clearance missed the target by inches.

Phoenix GM Andy Costigan noted, "What we've seen over these two games has been tremendous endeavour from both sides and excellent entertainment value. It was nip and tuck tonight for a while, but we got the job done and claimed the trophy. But the big winner here tonight is the game, I can't think that anyone watching will say they weren't entertained and one of the Sheffield staff put it in a nutshell when he shook my hand at the end and said, 'if every game we play this years is as good as both of these, we're in for a cracking season.' I couldn't have put it better myself."

"Our next task is to get Ed Courtenay cleared to travel and hopefully, he'll be here for next weekend when the league campaign begins. We've got a long bus ride to Basingstoke next Saturday and then we look forward to a big crowd turning out for our home opener against the Swindon Wildcats."

The Phoenix Team with the Trophy

The team with the trophy.
(Image: Will Maiden)

The trophyis presented

The trophy is presented to Andre Payette by Jim "Tambo" Piper.

The team with the Cup after winning the War of the Roses

The team with the trophy.

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