Manchester Phoenix vs Peterborough Phantoms

Tuesday, 17th June 2014

Saturday 14th June saw the highly anticipated Planet Ice British Sledge Hockey League clash between the Manchester Phoenix and the Peterborough Phantoms.

The Phantoms, the reigning league Champions, where missing a few players, meaning GB goalie Rob Gaze switched to Defence and former GB goalie and head of the British Sledge Hockey Association came our of retirement to go between the pipes. Although short benched, they still had the quality to damage Phoenix hopes!

The game started at a quick pace, and with hits coming thick and fast and Peterborough fell foul early on through a T-ing call, giving Phoenix it's first Powerplay! With Matt Lloyd tracking the puck well and making a great point blank save, it only denied the first goal for so long, with Karl Nicholson beating the keeper 1:14 in to put Phoenix on the board! Peterborough tried to hit back it some great team defence kept them at bay and this lead to Phoenix doubling the lead at 10:35, Karl Nicholson scoring again, a powerful shot that had just enough on it, as the keeper got a piece of the puck, to trickle across the line! The forwards where swarming at this point for Phoenix and just 20 seconds later it was nearly a goal again for Phoenix as a streaking Karl Nicholson receives a perfect pass from Graham Wilson but hits the post! Shortly after Anthony Booth is sent free by Graham Wilson and buries the 3rd for Phoenix! However Peterborough continue to fight on and get their reward 30 seconds later at 12:40, Matthew Coleman is set free 1 on 0, after a great pass from Darren Brown, and just manages to squeeze it past Steve Midghall in the Phoenix net. With no further scoring the first ends 3-1 to Phoenix!

The second period is even more eventful than the first, with Matt Lloyd injuring his shoulder near the end if the first period, Rob Gaze has to switch back to goalie, meaning the 2nd period is delayed by 10 additional minutes, but when the period does get underway, it takes 39 seconds for Karl Nicholson to notch his hat-trick, with a bullet on a 2 on 0 break with Rib Allen! The Phantoms are pinned in their zone as wave after wave of Phoenix attack come at them, and without some resolute defending and stellar work between the pipes from Rob Gaze, the period could have been a horror story for the Phantoms. With pucks being blocked by defenders and goalie alike, it wasn't until the last minute of the period that Phoenix added to the tally, Karl Nicholson picks up a loose puck, weaves through 2 players and roofs the puck, too left corner to give Phoenix a 5-1 lead after 2 periods!

The 3rd period starts with Phoenix killing a few penalties, including a shirt 5 on 3, with Karl Nicholson and Rob Allen both serving time, but great defence and net minding keep Phantoms off the scoresheet and give Phoenix more momentum, which paid off a few minutes later with a epic end to end rush by Karl Nicholson to put further daylight between the two sides, much to the delight of the home crowd! Despite strong Phoenix pressure, Peterborough refused to capitulate, but just under halfway through the period, Phoenix struck again through, who else?!?!?, Karl Nicholson... despite Rib Gaze making a brilliant save 1 on 0, the Phoenix captain backhanded the rebound past the keeper for his 6th goal and the teams 7th! Both teams still went at it for more goals, but it was Peterborough who were rewarded for their game long dogged determination as a goal mouth scramble, in which the Phoenix defence couldn't clear, resulted in a scrappy goal at 12:46 of the third period, a first for Phantoms player Jon Le Galloudec. As the seconds ticked down to the final buzzer, the home crowd celebrated a home win, and hopefully help spread the word about coming to watch the sport!

A huge performance from Peterborough who despite the adversity, never let their heads down and battled until the end, no doubt a tasty clash awaits in Peterborough when the sides next meet!

Man of the Match went to the Phoenix captain Karl Nicholson, with 6 goals and 1 assist, but plenty of others who could have been chosen. Great home debuts by several players, especially Dominic Cosgrove, who was unlucky not to net a goal.

A massive thank you to all those who volunteered to help the game run smoothly, sell cakes and raffle tickets and those who donated prizes... the organisation can't thank you enough, also Lemur Graphics for the awesome programme. Also thank you to the Phoenix Podcast for coming down and covering the game... please keep an ear out and show your support by listening... always an entertaining programme.

So next up for the Phoenix is a tough Planet Ice Sledge Hockey League game in Cardiff, followed by a return game in Altrincham, can the Phoenix carry this momentum forward and build on this important win??? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, @MP_Sledgehockey to find out!!!!