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Tigers lift the British Challenge Cup

Friday, 20th March 2015

Telford Tigers 5 Manchester Phoenix 2 (Tigers win 8-3 on aggregate)

Phoenix Scorers: Frantisek Bakrlik and Robin Kovar

J Davidson sponsored “Men of Iron” Manchester Phoenix took on the Tigers in the Cup final second leg in Telford and despite a heroic effort lost in an epic game.

Phoenix, without key players Luke Boothroyd and Michal Psurny, gave it their all as they strove to pull back the two goal deficit from the first leg and got off to a dream start, scoring the two goals necessary for parity within the first 3 minutes of play.  

Only 79 seconds had been played when Phoenix were given a powerplay opportunity as Dan Scott sat out an extra 2 minutes after an altercation with Joe Graham. Robin Kovar scored thirty seconds later, assisted by James Neil and Frantisek Bakrlik. The large Phoenix following were in raptures 28 seconds later when Frankie Bakrlik made it 2-0 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate. 

Tigers, obviously rattled by Phoenix’s blitz start, slowly began to exert pressure on the Phoenix defence and pulled a goal back on 5.54 as the mercurial Peter Szabo found the net, assisted by Jason Silverthorn and Nathan Salem. Tigers were now in full swing and Stephen Fone in the Phoenix net pulled off save after save to keep the marauding Tigers at bay. There was one minute of concern for the Phoenix fans as the netminder stayed down after taking a puck to the throat on one Tigers’ attack. He was able to continue after some treatment and continued to put in a stellar performance to keep the scores at 2-1 Phoenix at the end of the first period.

More of the same in the second period as the home side camped in the Phoenix defensive zone although Phoenix were still troubling Tom Murdy in the Tigers net with a few chances throughout the period. Tigers brought the evening’s scores level on 24.54 with a Max Birbraer power play goal assisted by Jonathan Weaver and Peter Szabo. Despite heroics in the net by Stephen Fone, the home side took the lead with 35.13 gone with a crisp shot by Peter Szabo and made it 4-2 two minutes later as Blahoslav Novak hit the net, assisted by Marcus Maynard and Dan Scott. 

That finished the second period scoring with Tigers on top and Phoenix working their socks off to stay in the tie.

The third was a pretty even affair for most of the period but it was the Tigers who scored a fifth goal on 49.15 with Novak’s second of the evening. Phoenix kept up their work rate but the extra depth in the Tigers’ roster took its toll on a tiring Manchester side and the game ended without any further scoring and the home side took the cup on an 8-3 aggregate over the two games.

Coach Tony Hand said after the game: “All credit to Telford on their cup win. I am extremely proud of my lads and cannot fault a single one of them. They gave me everything they had over the two games and I cannot praise them enough. The loss of two key players in Luke Boothroyd and Michal Psurny hit us hard and Tigers took advantage of the strength in depth. We will now focus on our two home games this weekend and get ready for the play off quarter finals coming up. A huge thanks to the Phoenix support tonight and every game. They have been magnificent all season.”

Frankie on the attack

Frankie on the attack
(Image: Andrew Sobutta)

Bobby Chamberlain has words

Bobby Chamberlain has words
(Image: Andrew Sobutta)

The second Phoenix goal gives hope

The second Phoenix goal gives hope
(Image: Andrew Sobutta)


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