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Result: Manchester Phoenix 9 - Sheffield Steeldogs 1.
Phoenix scorers: Flaten (2), Long(2), Boothroyd, Psurny, Duggan, Schnabel, and Archer.
Manchester Phoenix stayed in top spot in the EPL on Sunday night, after a rampant display against arch-rivals Sheffield Steeldogs.
Phoenix had the puck in the net after just 30 seconds, but it was disallowed. It was a sign of things to come, though, and relentless early pressure paid off when Joachim Flaten put Phoenix ahead after three minutes.
A quick 30 second double from Ciaran Long on 10.25 and 11.04 put Phoenix firmly in the driving seat and had Sheffield reeling. Steeldogs simply had no answer to Manchester’s well-organised, skilful, gritty performance. Steeldogs’ player coach Andre Payette tried to ignite his players on 17 minutes by picking a fight with Phoenix’s ex-NHL d-man Robert Schnabel, but after a prolonged grapple, Schnabel won the tussle with three solid punches and a takedown.
In the second period Phoenix simply ran riot. Luke Boothroyd grabbed a power play goal for Phoenix on 24 minutes, and Michal Psurny got his name on the score sheet when he snatched a fifth for Manchester on 30 minutes.
Steeldogs responded by replacing Dimitri Zimozdra in goal with Brad Day, but it took just over two minutes for Schnabel to smash in a sixth from the blue line, and Tom Duggan made it seven just 23 seconds later.
Phoenix have rarely dominated a game to such an extent, but despite strong performances from Steve Duncombe, Ashley Calvert and Stuart Brittle, Sheffield were a beaten side by the half way mark.
Schnabel bagged his second on 37 minutes, before Steeldogs finally registered a goal a minute later when a speculative lob from Duncombe took a cruel deflection off Steve Fone’s stick and into the net. But any celebrations on the Sheffield bench were short-lived as James Archer thrashed in a ninth for Phoenix on 39 minutes.
For the third period Steeldogs had put Zimozdra back in net, while Phoenix coach Tony Hand gave Steve Fone the rest of the night off and allowed backup net minder Jorge El-Hage to get some ice time for the second home game in succession. El-Hage, who received a rousing reception, kept a clean sheet in a goalless third period, even seeing out a five-on-three penalty in the closing stages.
03:03 Phoenix goal 1 - scored Flaten, assisted Hand and Boothroyd.
10:25 Phoenix goal 2 - scored Long, assisted McKinney.
11:04 Phoenix goal 3 - scored Long, assisted Wood.
24:33 Phoenix goal 4 - scored Boothroyd, assisted Flaten and Psurny.
30:50 Phoenix goal 5 - scored Psurny, assisted Hand.
32:16 Phoenix goal 6 - scored Flaten, assisted Schnabel and Psurny.
32:49 Phoenix goal 7 - scored Duggan, assisted Archer.
37:53 Phoenix goal 8 - scored Schnabel assisted Hand.
38:13 Steeldogs goal 1 - scored Duncombe assisted Wood
39:42 Phoenix goal 9 - scored Archer, assisted McKenzie and Neil.
MOM for Phoenix: Schnabel