Phoenix up against it in 2nd leg

Sunday, 17th December 2006

Manchester Phoenix coach Tony Hand knows his team will have to pull out a superhuman result on Sunday if they are to proceed through to the Challenge Cup Final.

For two periods on Saturday in Skydome, Phoenix were more than a match for the Coventry Blaze dominating large sections of play but failing to make the most of their scoring opportunities.

Blaze edged the first period with the only goal coming on a 15th minute powerplay with Reid Simonton the Coventry scorer. A flashpoint shortly afterwards saw Blaze forward Sylvain Cloutier ejected from the game after he became involved in a clash between KC Timmons and Barrie Moore.

Phoenix took the game to Coventry in the second period and deservedly drew level in the 36th minute when Radoslav Hecl converted a pass from Tony Hand. But, the Phoenix paid the price shortly before the second interval as Adam Calder restored the home sides lead with a shorthanded strike that went in off the post.

Coventry stretched their lead just over three minutes into the third period with Samy Nasreddine scoring, again off the inside of the post, with Phoenix goalie Jason Wolfe screened and unable to see the shot through a crowd of players. Blaze opened up a three goal first leg lead in the 47th minute when captain Ashley Tait was left unmarked at the back post to sweep home a pass from Barrie Moore.

Hand reflected, “we had our chances tonight and failed to take them. On another night, we would have scored at least two or three goals and those chances could be the difference between going out and progressing. But, it’s only half time and we now know exactly what we’ve got to do. It will be a terrific game on Sunday and we’ll be giving it everything we’ve got to try and turn it around.”