Bison partypoop on Phoenix opener

Sunday, 25th February 2007

Phoenix 4 - 5 Bison

Manchester Phoenix finally got their 'home' season in the Altrincham Ice Dome underway, but it was the visiting Basingstoke Bison who went home with the two points from a 9-goal thriller.

Basingstoke arrived at the Dome smarting from a home loss on Saturday and in determined mood to spoil the Phoenix party and they scored the historic first-ever goal in the new facility with just over two minutes played, Brad Cruikshank the scorer. Phoenix were level by the five-minute mark as Simon Mangos pounced on good work from Radoslav Hecl and Brett Clouthier. But the Bison still weren't reading the script and markers from Greg Owen and Kevin Bergin, on a powerplay, gave the visitors a two-goal lead by the middle of the opening period. Emerging star Adam Walker reduced the arrears in the 18th minute only for Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard to restore the two-goal before the first interval.

Phoenix used the first break to gather their composure and from that point, dominated the second session, pinning the Bison in their own end of the ice for long periods. In the 33rd minute, Adam Walker bagged his second of the game and Phoenix immediately used their timeout to underline the instructions given in the first break. Basingstoke held firm for the remainder of the session to lead 4-3 at the second break.

The third period was again largely owned by the home side and just over five minutes into the final period on a powerplay, David Vychodil crashed home the tying goal with an unstoppable blast from the blueline. Phoenix tails were up and they went for the winner. But, the Bison were not phased and despite several hairy moments, they held firm and on a late powerplay, they stole the game winning goal and the two points as Greg Owen lifted a short range backhand shot past Jason Wolfe in the Phoenix goal.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand commented, "naturally, we're disappointed to have lost the first game in the new building, but we've got plenty more games here to recover these lost points. Tonight was probably more about the club getting the building open and operational, and to that end the night was a success. We're back here on Tuesday and Thursday and we'll look to give the fans something to really smile about when we play Newcastle and Belfast."