Awada OT winner as Phoenix overcome Racers

Tuesday, 4th November 2003

Captain George Awada scored 19 seconds into sudden death overtime on Tuesday night as the Manchester Phoenix overcame a brave fight by the still winless London Racers.

Phoenix got away to the perfect start with Awada opening the scoring with a 5th minute powerplay strike only for Long to grab his first for the Racers at 7:49. Phoenix were undeterred and scored an excellent second as Mike Lankshear jumped up into the play to bury a pass from Awada in the 10th minute. Phoenix lay siege to the Racers goal but couldn’t increase their advantage. London tied the game up through Norwegian defenceman Martin Sellgren and then grabbed an unlikely lead through Tuominen just past the half hour mark. Phoenix bombarded the visitors goal and the resistance was finally broken by Eric Lind on the powerplay at 37.40. Phoenix looked to have won the battle when they retook the lead through Mike Morin at 41:41 but Racers came back in the dying minutes with Long notching his second. Phoenix sent their travelling fans home happy from Deeside when Awada scored unassisted in overtime.

Head coach Rick Brebant, who left the game late in the second period with a recurrence of a knee injury, said, “we played hard tonight, all the boys worked hard and I thought we were always in control. We could have won by a bigger margin, but you have to give London credit for sticking to their task. They showed a lot of character. The big thing for us was to get the win and we did, we can build on this. I was very pleased with the British players, they all worked tremendously hard and deserved the amount of ice time they got. They have been tremendous.”

On his own situation Brebant added philosophically, “Maybe this another of the signs telling me to stop playing. I didn’t want to play this season but circumstances have meant I have had to. Now I think this injury is the end and I will return behind the bench to do the job I came here to do and that is to coach.”