Courtenay announces his arrival with four-goal show

Saturday, 19th September 2009

Basingstoke Bison 4 – 7 Manchester Phoenix

Former San Jose Shark Ed Courtenay announced his arrival in the English Premier League with four goals as the Manchester Phoenix won their opening game of the season in Basingstoke.

Courtenay, who only arrived in Manchester on Friday morning, needed less than eight minutes to find the back of the Bison net crunching home on a powerplay after a bright opening by the home side. Phoenix doubled their lead four minutes later, defenceman Joe Graham joining the rush and converting a pass from Jaakko Hagelberg. The home side settled and reduced the arrears through Lauko in a first period played at tremendous pace by both teams in front of an appreciative and noisy crowd.

Basingstoke tied the game less than two minutes into the second session, Olli Bronniman scoring from close range to give the home fans plenty to make a noise about. Basingstoke were now gaining in confidence and the Phoenix were having to work hard to keep them at bay. The visitors calm at the back worked to their advantage as breaking forward just past the half hour mark, Ben Wood drove to the net to spin sweetly and backhand a pass from Iain Bowie through the legs of Lawrence in the home goal. And when Courtenay crashed home his second of the game four minutes later on a pass from Tony Hand, Phoenix looked to have wrenched control of the game from their hosts. But, the Bison had other ideas and they hit back with markers from Long and captain Nicky Chinn, the latter in the final 25 seconds of the session to send the teams to the second interval tied at 4-4.

The final period saw Phoenix take control, courtesy of a powerplay shot from Luke Boothroyd that Lawrence in the home goal will have nightmares over conceding. If the Phoenix fifth goal had an element of luck about it, the sixth was pure class as Robert Lachowicz and Tony Hand combined for Ed Courtenay to complete his hat-trick placing an inch-perfect shot between the Bison goalie and his near post into the roof of the net. And former NHLer Courtenay wrapped up a glorious debut in the 49th minute by adding the finishing touch to a move involving Greg Wood and Andre Payette.

Phoenix forward Jaakko Hagelberg, “It might not have been too pretty, but we got the two points and that’s all that matters. What can you say about a debut like that from Eddie, we just need to get the puck to him and it’s in the net. The atmosphere we’ve had in the three games so far has been excellent, the fans in England are so noisy, it makes it fun to play the games when the fans are so involved. Again, it was nice to see fans from Manchester at the game, it was a long drive and we appreciate their support.”

Four-goal hero Courtenay reflected, “I haven’t skated all summer and obviously only arriving on Friday, I didn’t have chance to train with the boys, so to score four goals is naturally pleasing. Any time you can win on the road is good and to win the opener in a tough place like Basingstoke is great for the younger guys.”