Phoenix be-devilled in Cardiff opener

Wednesday, 6th December 2006

Manchester Phoenix travelled to South Wales on Wednesday night for the first game in the new Cardiff Ice Rink and couldn’t quite pull off the party-pooping role.

An explosive opening six minutes saw Tony Hand opening the scoring for the Phoenix at 1.47 before a quick fire brace from Devils Max Birbrauer put the home side in front. Barely had the home crowd settled before Derek Campbell tallied to equalise at 5.59 and that was the score line at the end of the opening period.

The Devils opened up a two-goal margin in the second session on strikes from Nathan Rempel and Dave Iannazzo, but the Phoenix dug in and responded well to reduce the arrears through defenceman Simon Mangos in the 35th minute.

Phoenix drew level again early in the third period as Ales Parez scored assisted by Robin Gomez. With both sides straining for the lead, it was the Devils who again grabbed the advantage, Rempel notching his second of the game. Phoenix then failed to capitalise on two powerplay opportunities and were snake bitten as Dion Darling added a sixth goal for the home side with Simon Mangos of the Phoenix in the penalty box. The icing on the cake for the Devils in their home-opener was a hat-trick marker for Man of the Match Max Birbrauer at 56.50 to complete a 7-4 final score.

Phoenix coach Tony Hand commented, “Naturally, I’m a bit disappointed with the score line, I don’t think there was ever a three goal between the teams. Of course, they were pumped up to be playing in the new building at last, but having got back to four-four we had a couple of lapses of concentration and that was the difference. They made the best of those chances and we couldn’t recover again.”

Phoenix travel to Basingstoke on Saturday for a 6.30pm face off against the Bison before Sunday’s home game in Deeside against the Cardiff Devils at 3.00pm.