Phoenix edged out in 10 goal thriller

Thursday, 17th March 2011

Manchester Phoenix 4 Slough Jets 6

This high-tempo, top-drawer game was one of this season’s highlights, but Manchester Phoenix received a timely reminder that the English Premier League title still has to be fought for after another entertaining, exhilarating encounter between the two sides at the Altrincham Ice Dome.

This was Phoenix’ first league defeat since February 12th, when they lost away to…Slough Jets, and it leaves the league leaders still needing three points from their final three games to clinch the title.

Jets were without Adam Greener, while Phoenix were still missing Tom Duggan.

It was Phoenix who struck first through Man of the Match Ben Morgan after five minutes, but Jets were on level terms a minute later after a strike by Darius Pliskauskas finished off an excellent move. The Jets, who have hit form in recent weeks, and Phoenix were playing fast, attractive, tactically astute hockey, and like this season’s previous matchups between these two sides, the entertainment value was high, though clear chances were at a premium.

Pliskauskas put Jets ahead on 17 minutes, but Phoenix immediately tied the game again through a superb solo effort from Tony Hand.

Morgan gave Phoenix the lead three minutes into the sw3cond period as his shot squeezed past Gregg Rockman into the bottom corner, but a superb individual goal from Ryan Watt tied the game again at 3-3. Curtis Huppe put Phoenix in front again on 38 minutes, giving the home side a 4-3 lead going into the second interval.

Phoenix started to lose concentration at times in the third period, and Slough were merciless. If anything, the pace of the game quickened and the Jets were starting to look stronger. Adam Calder scored Slough’s fourth with a lovely shot on 48 minutes, and Jets took the lead yet again on 53 minutes, when a pass by Paddy Ward found Pliskauskas who unleashed a howitzer that past flew Steve Fone in the Phoenix goal and crashed in off the pipes.

Phoenix went on full attack for the final few minutes, but Slough were resilient at the back and still dangerous going forwards, and when Fone was pulled for the extra skater, it was no surprise when Aaron Connolly rounded off a slick move by the Jets to get the empty net goal with just three seconds left.

Phoenix player coach Tony hand said: “We lost concentration at times tonight, and we were punished. We played some great hockey and so did the Jets, but this is a wakeup call to everyone that there is still everything to play for, and we cannot lose focus at this stage of the campaign.

“That said, confidence is still high in the locker room, and I know the guys have the character to bounce back this weekend, so we’ll regroup and do what needs to be done.”