Phoenix fall to Panthers

Wednesday, 24th January 2007

A superb powerplay blast from player/coach Tony Hand in the first period and a neat piece of opportunism from Johan Molin were not enough for the Phoenix on Tuesday night in Nottingham’s National Ice Centre.

The departure of Robin Gomez forced changes to the Phoenix lines with Adam Walker moved up to second line centre and Adam Radmall switching from his normal defensive role to play left wing on the third line. Panthers settled the quicker and opened the scoring on an 8th minute powerplay as Rod Stevens tapped home at the back post. Phoenix hit back with a powerplay strike of their own in the 15th minute as Tony Hand waited and picked his spot before firing an unstoppable shot from the left wing to level the scores. But, the home side took the first period lead two minutes later as Matus Petricko ghosted in at the back door to put the home side back in front.

The first physical confrontation of the game saw Petricko ejected on a 5+Game penalty when he appeared to throw a punch that hit a linesman. With Adam Walker in the penalty box, Panthers stretched their lead to 3-1 as Jan Krajicek found space on the right to fire into the gaping Phoenix goal. Phoenix rallied and prevented the expected Panthers onslaught from increasing the lead until the final minute of the period when Stevens bagged his second of the game to give the home side breathing space.

The Panthers extra bench depth began to tell in the final session despite a spirited Phoenix performance that saw them reduce the arrears with just over ten minutes remaining. Pressure from Hand and Derek Campbell saw the Panthers goalies leave his crease to play the puck only to lose control. The error allowed Johan Molin to easily dispossess him and walk the puck into the unguarded net. The Panthers though dashed Phoenix hopes of a late revival as Jan Krajicek struck his second of the game with a shot from the blueline on a 57th minute powerplay.

Reflecting afterwards Phoenix coach Tony Hand remarked, "I asked the guys for a big effort tonight and I think we got that. We made a few bad decisions at crucial moments and paid the price."