Brave Phoenix bow out of Cup

Monday, 18th December 2006

Manchester Phoenix put in a brave battling performance on Sunday but could not do enough to turn the Challenge Cup semi-final their way.

Coventry Blaze arrived on Deeside with a three-goal cushion from Saturday’s game in Skydome and they were determined not to relinquish their advantage. A tight first period saw just one goal as Dan Stewart tallied on a 7th minute powerplay. As in the first leg, Phoenix had their scoring chances but found Trevor Koenig in the Blaze goal again in outstanding form.

Phoenix came out hard in the second period, taking the game to the visitors and got their reward in the 30th minute as a cross ice pass from David Vychodil was lifted into the top corner from close range by Tony Hand. With the home fans sensing the Phoenix were gaining the ascendancy, Phoenix responded kept the pressure on and it was Coventry who welcomed the second interval after losing key defenceman Neal Martin on a 10-minute Misconduct penalty.

Phoenix felt the tide was slowly turning their way in the 46th minute when Alez Parez and Robin Gomez combined with KC Timmons firing home the go-ahead goal on the night from a tight angle. But, the hopes of the Phoenix were dashed in the 55th minute as in a goalmouth scramble, Dan Carlson pulled Coventry level on the night and restored a three-goal advantage.

Phoenix player/coach Tony Hand smiled ruefully when he said, “Over these two games, I thought we competed really well with the Blaze who are one of the best teams in this league. We didn’t get too much luck in front of goal and their goalie played really well. I thought we played well tonight and were unlucky not to win on the night although on reflection, the three-goal deficit from Saturday was probably too much to recover. I’m proud of the way my guys played tonight and so now, we’ll turn our attention to the league and the aim of securing a place in the post-season playoffs.”