Phoenix muzzle the Dogs

Saturday, 5th November 2011

Sheffield Steeldogs 2 - Manchester Phoenix 3

Phoenix scorers: Tony Hand, Martin Cingel and Ladislav Harabin.

J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix travelled the short distance across the Pennines for a lunch time date with the Sheffield Steeldogs.

Phoenix had Ladzi Harabin back in the line up wearing a full face cage and Steeldogs were missing ex- Phoenix defender Ben Morgan after he picked up a match penalty last weekend.

Referee Steve Wardell had his first decision to make after only 1.23 of the game when he put Lloyd Gibson in the penalty box on a boarding call. 27 seconds later Phoenix took the lead with a sweet finish from Tony Hand who took a pinpoint pass from Juraj Faith to score past Ben Bowns. James Neil was awarded the second assist. Steeldogs rallied and hit the post after 10 minutes. The large travelling band of Phoenix fans brought the house down when their team doubled the lead. With Tom Duggan sitting out a tripping penalty, a Steeldogs attack broke down and Martin Cingel scored short-handed after 14.46.With just less than 2 minutes left on the clock in the period, James Archer and Andre Payette had a disagreement and both sat out for 6 minutes. The penalties were made up of a 2 minute cross check and a 2+2 roughing call for both players. Phoenix dominated a surprisingly quiet home side but were brought back down to earth when Janis Ozolins scored a scrappy goal with just 14 seconds left of the period. End of the first and Phoenix looked pleased with their efforts and a 2-1 lead.

Phoenix again looked the team in charge in the second and scored on 29.07 with a goal from fan favourite Ladzi Harabin. Collecting the puck from Martin Cingel, he appeared to lose control but recovered to send the biscuit past Ben Bowns for a 3-1 lead. Phoenix outshot their opponents for the second period of the night and were well worth the lead although the Steeldogs looked dangerous on occasions with the mercurial Ozolins looking a handful. 40 minutes gone and the visitors took the second break with a 3-1 lead.

Steeldogs woke up in the third and found their form, pushing Phoenix back with good positional play and passing. With just under 6 minutes left, Harabin went to the box on a dubious tripping call and the Steeldogs made it a one goal game as Greg Wood found himself free on the left to score past Stephen Fone. Another penalty, this time on Luke Boothroyd with 1.36 left meant Phoenix having to see out the match on the penalty kill. Steeldogs pulled Ben Bowns for the extra skater but could not break down the resolute Phoenix defence who held on for a 3-2 win.

A good performance by Phoenix and a very welcome 2 points in the league and cup. Tony Hand was awarded the man of the match for Phoenix but it could have gone to any number of players today.

Coach Hand said after the game: “I am very pleased with the guys today. We worked hard and matched the physical play that the Steeldogs always bring to the table. They are a much improved side from last season and that was a tough win this afternoon. It just proves there are no easy wins this season in the league and it must be great for the fans to see such close games nearly every week. I was happy to have Ladzi back in the line up. We are slowly getting our injured players back and we can start to find a settled line up.”

The teams will match up again next Thursday 10th November at the Ice Dome, face off 1930hrs.