The cup, Swindon and the Jets

Tuesday, 29th January 2013

Busy week for J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix with 3 games in 5 days.

First up is a long trip to Surrey on Wednesday to take on the Guildford Flames in the EPL Cup Semi Final 1st leg.

Phoenix seem to have the Flames’ number so far this season with 3 victories but it is never easy at the Spectrum for any team.

Free-scoring Guildford are well served in the forward department with the ageless David Longstaff having a stellar season with 25 goals and 47 assists. Up front with him is Curtis Huppe who has bagged 36 goals and 24 assists. A formidable pair and the Phoenix defence will have to be on their toes to keep these two at bay.

Mark Lee and James Hadfield are the netminding duo and both are having good seasons.

With a 4-2 victory already at the Spectrum, Phoenix will go down south with confidence, looking to keep the game tight until the second leg in early March.

Next up, on Saturday, is an away bus ride to Swindon to play the Wildcats. Again, Phoenix have the edge in the series so far with 3 wins and one defeat. Every game has been a close one with Swindon winning 4-2 at the Link Centre and Phoenix edging their three wins by 5-4, 4-3 on penalties and a 5-4 overtime win. Swindon are another high-scoring team but have been very inconsistent this season. They do have the league’s top two scorers in Aaron Nell and Jonas Hoog, who have 160 points between them this season. This is a game Phoenix can certainly win, but they cannot expect any favours from the Wiltshire outfit.

And on to Sunday and a return to the Dome to play Slough Jets with the usual Sunday face off at 1730hrs.

Jets are coached by ex Phoenix favourite Slava Koulikov and are having an up and down season. However there are signs that they are finding form and they will be looking for another win at the Dome to add to their penalty shot win last time they came calling.

Two recent additions to the Jets’ roster are well known to Phoenix fans. D-man Pavel Gomeniuk has joined after being released by Sheffield Steeldogs and ex Phoenix fan favourite Ciaran Long has signed for his old mate Slava after getting employment in his home town of Swindon.

Phoenix are raring to go after a good away win in Bracknell last week and are hoping for a 4 point weekend to keep up the challenge at the top of the league.

Coach Hand said of the gruelling week: “It is a tough ask this week but that is what the game is all about. A cup semi final is a great change from the league programme and we are looking forward to the trip to Guildford and we will want to keep it tight for the second leg. Swindon and Slough are also tough games but we will be ready for the challenge as the season winds up for its final stages.”