Manchester Phoenix 4 - Guildford Flames 3 (Aggregate 8-9)
Phoenix scorers: Ondrej Pozivil, James Archer and Michal Psurny x 2
J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix fell agonisingly close in the EPL Cup semi final at the Dome on Saturday evening. A pulsating game that Phoenix controlled for long periods ended with them going out of the cup by one goal.
Phoenix took the game to the Flames in the first period and tested Mark Lee on numerous occasions. They were to rue the missed chances on 12.46 when Jez Lundin played the puck out of the defensive zone to David Longstaff who in turn sent Curtis Huppe down the right wing. He cut inside and fired a shot that deceived Andy Jaszczyk to make it 1-0. Phoenix continued to be the more offensive team but the Flames’ defence was well marshalled by player coach Paul Dixon. The period ended 1-0 to the visitors, giving them a three goal advantage with 40 minutes of the match remaining.
With just over 3 minutes gone in the second period, Robert Schnabel and Nathan Rempel had a bit of a disagreement on the blue line and both players dropped the gloves for a bit of dancing on ice. Both players received 2 plus 2 for roughing. It was the home side that took the initiative from the scrap, scoring 2 goals in 25 seconds. Ondrej Pozivil hit the first on 25.36, assisted by James Neil and Michal Psurny. 25 seconds later, with Milos Melicharek in the penalty box on a slashing minor, the Phoenix powerplay drew the Flames’ defence all over the place, making space for Michal Psurny to score, assisted by Tony Hand and Joachim Flaten. Guildford battled back and got the equaliser on the half hour mark with a power play goal by Nathan Rempel, assisted by David Longstaff and Milos Melicherik. That ended the scoring in the second period with Phoenix again the dominant side but still trailing in the match by two goals.
Once again Phoenix took the game to the Flames in the third period and were rewarded on 42.26 with a third goal. James Archer hit a scorcher from the right wing with assists by Bari McKenzie and Tom Duggan. Flames again broke the hearts of the home fans with another equaliser on 50.44. Rempel hit his second of the evening to make the score 3-3 and restore Guildford’s two goal advantage. Phoenix never gave up and were rewarded with just less than 5 minutes left in the game with a superb strike by Michal Psurny. He roofed the puck past Mark Lee from an impossible angle on the left side of the goal to make it 4-3 Phoenix and give them renewed hope in the match. Assists went to Ondrej Pozivil and Tony Hand.
Phoenix threw everything at the Flames in the last few minutes but the Surrey side held on for an aggregate win of 9-8 and will now meet Slough Jets in the final.
A disappointed Phoenix player coach Tony Hand said after the game: “I thought we controlled the game for long periods, taking the game to Guildford. I am proud of the guys tonight after a superb effort. They gave me absolutely everything and with a little bit of luck we could have got something from the game. Good luck to Guildford though in the final. They are a good side but we matched them tonight and unfortunately fell just short.”