Phoenix heart not quite enough

Sunday, 5th November 2006

Manchester Phoenix suffered a second consecutive home loss on Saturday night as their injury-hampered squad came up against a full strength Coventry Blaze outfit in Deeside.

Phoenix went into the game missing the services of defencemen David Vychodil and Adam Radmall, and the adjustment to cover the weakened defensive line-up saw forward KC Timmons drop back to help out. Blaze struck first in the third minute as an error at the back allowed Moore and Calder to combine for Sylvain Cloutier to score from close range. Phoenix battled hard against a Coventry side with no less than 19 players and rotating three full lines who dominated possession and outshot the hosts 18-12 in the opening period without adding to the early marker.

Despite the shortness of the bench, Phoenix made the Blaze battle all the way keeping netminder Trevor Koenig busy and it wasn’t till the 37th minute when Ashley Tait blasted the visitors into a two-goal lead. Phoenix responded tremendously and barely 90 seconds later Simon Mangos wrested an excellent shot high to the left hand side of the Blaze netminder to raise the Phoenix fans spirits and voices.

With their fantastic support roaring them on, Phoenix manfully took the game to the Blaze in the final period and Robin Gomez, who crashed headlong into the Blaze goalframe in an attempt to tie the scoreline early in the session, typified their spirit. Phoenix though ran into penalty trouble but defended magnificently, denying the Blaze time and again to get players back into the game. Coventry sealed the points in the 55th minute as the Phoenix tired and a slick passing move opened the home defence for Danny Stewart to complete a low-scoring encounter.

Phoenix coach Tony Hand commented, "Coventry come at you all night long and you need to be at full strength and on top form to compete. Tonight we were short and had to make adjustments to allow for the guys missing and not 100% fit. We battled hard and were a little unlucky as we didn’t make the most of the chances we made, but that’s the difference between winning and losing – you have to take your chances especially against a team with as much depth as Coventry have right now."