Belfast just too strong for Phoenix

Thursday, 30th November 2006

Manchester Phoenix battled bravely in the Belfast Odyssey Arena on Thursday night and nearly pulled off a major upset over the league leading Belfast Giants.

Belfast were quick on the scoreboard, jumping out to a three-nil lead by 17th minute courtesy of a brace from Jeff Huchins with a goal from former Phoenix star George Awada in between. Phoenix reduced the gap at the first interval with Robin Gomez assisted by Derek Campbell and KC Timmons.

 A tighter second period saw Phoenix more than competitive and their pressure eventually tolled as Derek Campbell added a second goal in the 32nd minute and even after losing Radoslav Hecl on a game misconduct penalty, they tied the score through player coach Tony Hand in the 36th minute.

 Phoenix were now flying and deservedly took the lead in the 46th minute through leading scorer, Johan Molin. The Giants reaction to falling behind was quick and Marc Levers pulled them level before Todd Kelman fired them back in front, the two goals coming in the space of a minute. Phoenix strained for the equaliser and pulled netminder Jason Wolfe in the final minute, but George Awada sealed the points for the Giants with his second of the game into the empty net at 59.59.

 Phoenix player/coach Tony Hand commented, “we didn’t get off to the best of starts but the guys worked their socks off to get back into the game and then take the lead. We had chances then to go on but Belfast are a very good side and they hit us hard and we paid the price. We were well in the game and losing Rado did hurt us. But, we came out of the game okay and we’ll live to fight another day.”