Phoenix lose out in Hampshire

Sunday, 5th January 2014

Basingstoke Bison 5 - Manchester Phoenix 2

Phoenix scorers: Jaroslav Cesky and Robin Kovar.

J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix fell to the league leaders Basingstoke Bison in an interesting encounter down in Hampshire

The visitors were dealt a huge blow early Saturday morning when news came through that Stephen Fone was too ill to travel. With back up netminder Jorge El-Hage leaving the club earlier in the week, Tony Hand turned to  Paul Maudsley, who himself was in hospital on a drip on Thursday night.

The inevitable onslaught on the Phoenix net started immediately and Bison took the lead on 4.03 when Andy Melachrino collected a loose puck to fire past Maudsley’s glove side. Phoenix remained under pressure for the rest of the period but the defence, ably assisted by the back tracking forwards, stood firm and went to the break only one goal down.

The relentless pressure eventually told on Phoenix in the second period when they lost 3 goals in 5 minutes. Aaron Connolly made it 2-0 with a wrister into the top corner on the power play at 25.59 and scored a fortuitous third 3 minutes later. Maudsley saved a Ciaran Long shot but the puck trickled agonisingly behind him and Joe Rand was first to get a stick on the puck to guide it into the net. Tomas Karpov made it 4-0 on 30.04 when he blasted a one-timer from the right circle. Phoenix re-grouped and saw out the rest of the period without the rampant Bison adding to the score.

The visitors responded well in the third period, taking the game to the Bison and were rewarded with Jaroslav Cesky scoring his first for the club on 42.36 when he tipped a Robin Kovar shot. Seven minutes later, Kovar himself sent alarm bells jingling all round the rink when he reduced the deficit to 2-4. Assists went to Andrew McKinney and Jaroslav Cesky. Bison’s top sniper, Tomas Karpov, finally put the game to bed on 52.23 when he took a pass from Joe Baird and set off down the left wing, cut inside and slid the puck through Maudsley’s five-hole to make it 5-2. One last incident of note in the game happened two minutes from the end when ex Phoenix defender Carl Graham was assessed a match penalty for high sticks with injury. With Liam not seriously injured, the Phoenix team made every effort to get him back on the ice before the end of the match to ensure the penalty was downgraded to a game, allowing Graham to avoid a match suspension.

Overall a plucky performance by Phoenix in difficult circumstances and coach Tony Hand reflected on this after the game.

“I thought the whole team battled hard tonight and all credit to them for sticking to the task in hand. We had to sacrifice some offence to help out the D in the first two periods and I changed things around in the third to give them something different to think about. As for the Liam Chong incident, I don’t like players getting bans for a complete accident and when we found out that Liam was able to go back on the ice, it was the right thing to do.”

Phoenix return home to the Dome on Sunday night to face the Swindon Wildcats with the usual face of at 1730hrs.