Phoenix end 2006 on winning note

Sunday, 31st December 2006

Manchester Phoenix completed a yuletide double over the Mobilx Newcastle Vipers on New Years Eve with a tight victory at the Deeside Leisure Centre.

In front of a large holiday crowd including a noisy contingent from the north-east, Phoenix were again short staffed as Robin Gomez was still unavailable to play. Vipers, keen to avenge the Boxing Day loss to the Phoenix, started brightly and opened the scoring inside four minutes as a shot from Jonathan Weaver was cleverly deflected by Shaun Johnson to beat Jason Wolfe in the home goal. The visitors killed three Phoenix powerplays to retain their lead at the first interval.

Phoenix turned up the heat in the second period and Peter Aubry in the Vipers goal was kept very busy denying almost constant attacking from the home side as they strived to tie the game up. The breakthrough eventually came in the 33rd minute when Derek Campbell fired the puck across the face of goal and Johan Molin beat Aubry at the back post. Phoenix were flying but were unable to turn their dominance into further goals before the second break.

The third period saw both teams searching for a winner with the better scoring chances going the Phoenix way. And it was the top scorer Molin, with his second of the game, who fired the Phoenix in front in the 47th minute latching onto a loose puck in the offensive zone before finishing expertly to give Aubry no chance. Phoenix should have added to their score in the closing moments when with Vipers having pulled their goalie for the extra skater, Campbell and Molin broke in and somehow the Vipers scrambling defence got back in time to clear after Campbell shot wide.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand noted, “Despite missing Gomez and Joe Miller not able to take a shift due to still feeling rough, the guys battled hard and got what we deserved. We had the better chances and on another night might have scored more goals, but we’ll take the score line and it gives us a big lift going into the New Year.”