First loss of the season for Phoenix

Sunday, 13th October 2013

Guildford Flames 3 - Manchester Phoenix 2

Phoenix scorers: James Archer and Robert Schnabel

J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix fell to their first loss of the season away to rivals Guildford Flames in a pulsating hockey match.

Both teams made a great start to the game and the crowd were treated to the type of end to end hockey both sets of fans are used to when these two teams meet. Flames thought they had struck the first blow on 16 minutes when they had the puck in the net only for referee Pickett to wash it out for a high stick infringement.

However, they did get on the scoreboard just a minute later when ex Phoenix forwards Marcus Kristoffersson and Curtis Huppe combined for the latter to slip the puck through Stephen Fone’s five hole for the opening goal. The period was ended prematurely when a plexi problem forced the teams off with 2.24 left and the remainder played after the first interval. The break benefited Flames and they doubled their lead on 19.28 after Tom Duggan robbed Joe Graham of the puck on the left wing and bore down on Stephen Fone. The Phoenix netminder stopped the first shot but was unable to stop the ex Phoenix forward from scoring off his own rebound. End of an entertaining first period with the home side in control at 2-0.

Phoenix started the 2nd period the better team and hit a goal back on 23.53. Hard work behind the net from Michal Psurny and Tony Hand forced pressure on the Flames defence and the puck fell nicely to James Archer who one-timed his shot past Mark Lee. Both netminders were called upon to keep the scoresheet the same until the equalising goal on 38.06. Once again Phoenix pressure forced a turnover and Robert Schnabel was in the right place at the right time to send a blistering shot into the net for 2-2. Once again the crowd were treated to an end to end game but the score remained even after 40 minutes.

Into the third period and both teams showed their intentions from the start with both Mark Lee and Stephen Fone called upon to keep their nets safe. Neither team looked like getting the upper hand until Luke Boothroyd was penalised for hooking at 53.40. Guildford pressed hard with their man advantage but on 54.36 James Archer broke free of the Guildford defence towards Mark Lee. Just as he was in the process of shooting, a Flames defender swept his stick in an attempt on the puck and caught Archer’s leg. Penalty shot was the call, not universally approved by the home crowd. Archer dusted himself down and took the shot only for Mark Lee to block the puck and keep the score at 2-2. This galvanised the Flames and the game winning goal that broke Phoenix hearts came with just 99 seconds left. Once again it was an ex Phoenix player who did the damage as Tom Duggan stabbed at the puck to send it past Stephen Fone.

Final score 3-2 to Flames. A great, entertaining game with neither team really deserving to lose in such a fashion.

Coach Hand said after the game:

“It was a great effort by the team. Guildford are a formidable side in their own rink and I was pleased the way we came back in the second period. It was very disappointing to lose the game winning goal so late but it is only October and there is a long way to go. Tomorrow is another day and another game.”

Part two of a thrilling weekend takes place today Sunday with the usual 1730hrs face off. Could be another thriller you really do not want to miss.