Phoenix still in the hunt after loss in Swindon

Sunday, 16th March 2014

Swindon Wildcats 2 - Manchester Phoenix 0.

J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix came back pointless from Wiltshire last night but are still well in the hunt for their second EPL championship title.

In a very scrappy first period, both teams had chances but Phoenix looked like they were playing a containing game to stifle Swindon’s fast break offence. Swindon took the lead with a power play goal on 6.37 as Frankie Bakrlik sat out a high sticks call. Pekkarinen and Hoog cycled the puck and the latter got it back to Nell on the blue line and his shot found its way past the screened Stephen Fone for the opening goal. Chances fell to both sides for the rest of the period but both netminders were up to the task.

The second period was just as scrappy as the first with Phoenix struggling to find their usual rhythm and an even period ended scoreless with the home side holding on to their slender 1-0 advantage.

The third saw much better hockey from both sides with Phoenix pressing the home defence at regular intervals. Stephen Lyle was inspired, keeping everything out and Phoenix must have been thinking lady luck had deserted them as they hit the post and had one shot stop right on the goal line before being cleared.  Swindon hit a second goal in controversial circumstances, again on the powerplay. Ben Wood appeared to have his stick slashed out of his hands as it fell broken on the ice. This allowed Swindon a two on one break and Sam Smith was on hand to put a rebound into the empty net after Stephen Fone had saved Henri Sandvik’s initial shot. Discussions afterwards saw Robert Schnabel receive a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct and Phoenix had to play the final 10 minutes a defenceman short.  The final minutes saw the visitors fling everything at the Swindon goal to no avail and a disappointed Phoenix head home without the points.

Phoenix return to the Dome for a Sunday fixture against title rivals Basingstoke Bison with a huge crowd expected. Face off is at the usual time of 1730hrs.