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Manchester Phoenix sledge hockey team made their debut at the Dome on Saturday with games against Peterborough Phantoms and Kingston Kestrels.
Phoenix will be joining the British Sledge Hockey League next season and the games were to gauge the development of the team and to introduce a dimension of hockey new to many fans.
The games were played in 2 x 15 stop clock periods with the rules almost identical to the hockey we are used to.
Manchester Phoenix 5 Peterborough Phantoms 1
Phoenix iced for the first time against a game Phantoms team. Dan Breen in goal kept the eager Manchester outfit at bay on numerous occasions but a hat trick from GB player Karl Nicholson gave the delighted home team the win.
Kingston Kestrels 13 Peterborough Phantoms 1
The newly-crowned sledge hockey league champions proved too strong for the Phantoms outfit in the second game and ran out convincing winners. Huge credit was due to the relatively inexperienced Peterborough team who fought bravely for the whole 30 minutes.
Manchester Phoenix 1 Kingston Kestrels 5
The final game of the day saw the home side take on the best team in the country and although going down by 4 goals, Phoenix showed plenty of promise and enterprise and one doubts if we will see a similar scoreline next time they meet.
3 goals from Matt Clarkson and one each from Berry and Warner completed the Kestrels’ scoring. However the biggest cheer of the night came when Karl Nicholson scored the home goal.
A reasonable crowd saw fast, skilful, entertaining hockey all afternoon and many left saying they cannot wait for the next event.
Phoenix coach Pete Hagan said after the games: “I am really happy with the way the team performed today. We have only been together for 12 weeks and some players started from scratch. A huge thanks to everybody who played or helped with the organisation of the day. The future of sledge hockey in Manchester looks bright.”
Phoenix press officer Jim Piper caught up with Great Britain player and 3 time Paralympic competitor Karl Nicholson after the games and he had this to say: “Today was a good day for everybody involved in the Phoenix Organisation. We only came together 3 months ago and the progress made is astonishing. The Kestrels have been together for more than 20 years and I think we acquitted ourselves very well in that game. They are deserved league champions but Phoenix have definitely designs on the title soon.”
A great day’s entertainment with sledge hockey winning over some new fans. Many thanks to the officials and all who turned up and gave their time to the event. There was a collection at the game to raise funds for the GB team who have an Olympic qualifying event soon and to boost the coffers of the Manchester team.