Phoenix second period blitz stuns 'Cats

Saturday, 3rd October 2009

Swindon Wildcats 1 – 5 Manchester Phoenix

A close to full-house crowd at the Swindon Link Centre saw the home side take a first period over the Manchester Phoenix, but Tony Hands’ squad clinical second period showing saw the points head north. Phoenix had added Ryan Johnson, formerly with the Sheffield Spartans to their roster, to add extra depth to the defence.

An evenly contested first period at the Swindon Link Centre saw both goalies face nine shots apiece as both sides tried to find a way to dominate their opponents. Steve Fone in the Phoenix goal made the first big save of the session on six minutes turning a Danilics shot aside with his pads. Fone gain came up big three minutes later as Kohut broke in one-on-one, but the Phoenix keeper stood firm to make the pad save again. Swindon had been marginally the better side in the opening ten minutes and they took the lead just past the midway point of the period as player coach Ryan Aldridge found space at the back post to sweep home a pass from Matt Foord. Woolhouse on the home goal made two saves from James Neil later and Phoenix went in trailing by the single goal after a Krajicek shot cannoned to safety off the crossbar.

The second period saw a total turnaround in the teams’ fortunes as the Phoenix took full control of the game with a five-goal salvo. With Andre Payette serving the games first penalty, Jaakko Hagelberg, who had switched from playing as a forward to taking up a more defensive role, broke up a Wildcats raid and his cross-ice pass found Iain Bowie who confidently beat Woolhouse to the short side in the 25th minute. Phoenix then killed a penalty on Greg Wood and when Swindon went shorthanded, the visitors grabbed their first lead on the resulting powerplay as Hagelberg re-directed a Luke Boothroyd shot. Swindon were rattled and with Payette causing havoc in the home defence, Robert Lachowicz rammed home the Phoenix’ third marker off a Greg Wood pass in the 29th minute - Swindon immediately used their timeout to try to calm things down. Phoenix though were now in almost total control of the game and it was no surprise when they went 4-1 up as Ed Courtenay and Tony Hand carved out the opening for James Neil to score high into the net in the 38th minute. Phoenix completed their nap-hand period on the 39-minute mark with Bowie netting his second of the game on a feed from Courtenay.

With the outcome all but settled after forty minutes, the Phoenix eased off the pedal in the final period. Swindon to their credit tried to fight their way back into the game, but the visitors were always in command and were able to restrict the home side to long shots that failed to trouble Fone in the Phoenix goal. Jaakko Hagelberg drew a 2+10 minute penalty for Checking from Behind with just over ten minutes remaining, but Swindon failed to capitalise on the resulting powerplay. The final minute saw Wildcats Ryan Aldridge drop the gloves with Ryan Johnson after the latter had also been penalised for Checking from Behind.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand commented, “We were a little slow off the mark tonight, but once we got going, I thought we dominated Swindon. Once again though, this game demonstrated that you have to work hard and be willing to pay the price as they gave us plenty to think about particularly in the first period.”