Bison and Tigers next up for Phoenix

Thursday, 17th October 2013

J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix continue their league and cup adventure this coming weekend with a tricky trip to Basingstoke to face the Bison and host Telford Tigers on Sunday.

After a great weekend of top class hockey against Guildford, things do not get any easier for Phoenix with a trip to Basingstoke Bison on Saturday. Games between the two side are always exciting and close and this weekend is likely to provide much of the same.

Bison have made a mixed start to the season with six wins and three defeats so far. They split a weekend’s points with Guildford, just as Phoenix did and, as always, will be a formidable test in their own rink.

They have made some significant changes to their roster since Phoenix defeated them in the Play off semi-final in April. Top netminder Stevie Lyle has moved to Swindon and was replaced by Dean Skinns, a very capable netminder. On the import front, Greg Chambers and Jaroslav Cesky left the club and were replaced by free scoring Czech forward Tomas Karpov and Slovakian defender Miroslav Vantroba. Karpov played for Telford Tigers last season and was snapped up by Bison player coach Doug Sheppard. Nicky Chinn has returned to Bison after a season at Milton Keynes and Aaron Connolly has joined them from the Jets.

Karpov is definitely one for the Phoenix defence to keep an eye on with 12 points so far. Joe Greener, with 6 goals and Joe Miller, with 7, are the snipers to watch.

Phoenix will be looking to take their great form into this game and a big crowd is expected on Saturday.

Sunday sees the Telford Tigers make their first visit to the Dome this season. The Tigers have recently been bought by a large company with local interest and it looks like exciting times are ahead for the Shropshire outfit. On the ice so far, Telford have won 3 out of 9 games and have made a reasonable start to this year’s campaign. These wins include away victories at Peterborough and Slough, so Phoenix will have to be on their guard.

The teams met on the first day of the season in Telford and Phoenix took the points with a comfortable 5-1 win. The Tigers, however, have caused problems in the past and the home side will be on their guard as they strive to keep their home record intact.

Tigers may have some injury problems going into this match with captain, and ex Phoenix player Scott McKenzie suffering a horrible concussion a couple of weeks ago and Finnish forward Miika Kiviranta needed surgery last weekend after a finger injury due to an incident in their game against the Steeldogs. There are signs that Telford are going to be far more competitive this season. Top scorer so far is Nathan Salem with 6 goals, with import Marek Mikusovic on 4. Declan Ryan, well known to Phoenix, is in goal again this season and he will look to continue his good form against Manchester.

Coach Tony Hand said of the upcoming weekend fixtures:

“Bison were pushing top spot this time last season and they are close on our heels again. It will be our first meeting since that epic play off semi-final in April and I am sure this game will herald the start of another epic series of battles this season. On Sunday we face the Tigers, who have had some great off-ice news this week and it means the club are really going places. This is a club on the up and deservedly so. We know from past experience that the Tigers are capable of capitalising on any lack of concentration. With this in mind we are approaching this game with the same focus we do every week. There will be no room for complacency and I will be looking to everyone to be on top of their game, and I am sure they will be.”

The game against the Tigers is on Sunday with the usual face off time of 1730hrs. Telford games are usually entertaining, so get down to the Dome and be part of something special this season.