Manchester Phoenix 4 - Milton Keynes Lightning 1
Phoenix scorers: Tony Hand, Michal Psurny, Robert Schnabel and Richard Bentham.
J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix beat rivals Milton Keynes Lightning to secure a 4 point weekend and a return to top of the league.
In a fairly even start to the first period, Phoenix and a short-benched MK side traded shots on goal with both netminders keeping the puck out. That was until 7.15 when Tony Hand shot from the blue line and scored. Assists went to James Neil and Frankie Bakrlik. The MK netminder, Stephen Wall, was totally screened by one of his own players and never saw the puck fly to his right and into the net. There were chances at both ends before Lightning equalised on the power play with 12 seconds left in the period. Andrew McKinney was sitting out a slashing call when Stanislav Lascek scored, assisted by Janne Jokila and Tom Carlon. No further scoring ensued and the teams went for a cup of tea at 1-1.
Phoenix dominated the early part of the second period and took the lead on 27.43 with a power play goal by Michal Psurny. Tony Hand and James Archer were awarded the assists on the goal. That ended the goal scoring in the period but not the action. The game had just reached the half way point when Adam Carr and Frankie Bakrlik clashed behind the Lightning goal and after much deliberation the referee gave the Phoenix man a match penalty for a check to the head. Carr returned to the game after missing a couple of shifts and the referee downgraded the call to a game penalty. A minute into the 5 minute penalty, Robert Schnabel fired the puck over the plexi and picked up a 2 minute minor delay of game penalty. This put Phoenix on a long 5 on 3 penalty kill and after killing off the penalty without score, the home side had Lightning looking a jaded and beaten side. However the game remained finely poised at 2-1 as the teams took their second break.
Lightning had some good chances early in the third but as the game approached the 50 minute mark, Phoenix scored two quick goals to put the result beyond doubt. Firstly on 49.05, as Lukas Zatopek sat out a tripping penalty, Robert Schnabel took a pass from Michal Psurny to hit an absolute rocket past Wall to make it 3-1. Lightning barely had time to compose themselves before they went 4-1 down on 49.45. Richard Bentham scored with assists awarded to Andrew McKinney and Joe Graham. Milton Keynes pressed hard for the final 10 minutes but the Phoenix defence stood firm to gain the win and make it a satisfying 4 point weekend for the Manchester outfit.
Man of the Match James Neil commented at the post match interview:
“MK always give us a hard game and tonight was no exception. We took our chances and it is a good feeling to go back to top of the league as we head towards Christmas.”
James Archer puts himself right in front of Stephen Wall for Phoenix's first goal
(Image: Andrew Sobutta)
The penalty call on Frantisek Bakrlik is debated by both teams and the officials
(Image: Andrew Sobutta)