All to play for at the Dome on Sunday

Sunday, 31st March 2013

Bracknell Bees 4 - Manchester Phoenix 3 

Phoenix scorers: Tom Duggan, James Archer and Ondrej Pozivil

J Davidson sponsored made the long journey back from Bracknell late Saturday night with a one goal deficit to bring back in the second leg of the play-off quarter finals, losing a pulsating match 3-4.

Phoenix were able to announce a full squad for the game, a rare occasion this season.

The visitors made a very nervous start and Bees put them under pressure in the early stages. Luke Boothroyd sat out an early penalty for delay of the game as he hooked the puck directly over the plexi. The penalty kill was going well until 5 seconds from the end when Martin Masa found Shaun Thompson clear on the right and his shot went high into the net past Stephen Fone. Thirty seconds later two punches by Scott Spearing went unpunished. Andrew McKinney and James Galazzi decided to settle the issue by dropping the gloves at the next face off. For some strange reason, Spearing was nowhere to be seen. A good fight ensued with Galazzi getting the better of the early exchanges until McKinney took control and won the fight. Fair play to Galazzi for stepping up to the plate for a team mate. Phoenix equalised in the 14th minute, against the run of play, as Tom Duggan took the puck down the right wing and fired it in on goal. Tom Annetts, the Bees’ netminder, misjudged it and the puck nestled in the net through the goaltender’s five hole. The period ended 1-1 with Phoenix happy to go to the first break with parity.

Phoenix came out for the second period with more fight and confidence and took the game to the Bees. However it was the Bees who took the lead again with a goal from Scott Spearing. A neat cross ice pass from Shaun Thompson found Scott Spearing in the slot and the latter only had to re-direct the pass into the open net. Phoenix bounced back again and deservedly equalised in the 36th minute when James Archer found room to shoot from the blue line, out on the left wing and the puck was past Tom Annetts without the netminder reacting. Bracknell ended the period with a good individual goal by Grant Rounding. The winger drove fast down the right side, beat the defender for pace and bore in on Stephen Fone. The Phoenix nettie covered the shot, forcing Rounding over the goal line with the puck. The Bees forward then somehow found a miniscule gap between Fone’s pads and the post to give the Bees a 3-2 lead.

Phoenix started the third period on the penalty kill after a slash by Joachim Flaten right at the end of the 2nd was punished with two minutes in the box. Phoenix again looked comfortable on the penalty kill until the latter stages when Shaun Thompson was in the right place at the right time to fire home after Fone had saved the first shot by Jan Bendik. Phoenix hit back a minute later with Ondrej Pozivil first timed the puck into the net past a static Tom Annetts.

With both teams tiring, Bees had to defend resolutely for a spell as Phoenix started to find gaps in the rearguard. Annetts came up with a couple of big saves to preserve the 4-3 score line and it is the Bees who have a slight advantage going into Sunday’s second leg.

Man of the match awards went to Andy Munroe for the Bees and Stephen Fone for the visitors.

All to play for in Sunday’s game with a trip to Coventry for the victors and a round of golf for the unfortunate team that comes second.

The Bees are bringing a good support to the Dome therefore the Phoenix faithful will need to play their usual part in proceedings and shout the team on to victory and another shot at the play off title next weekend.