Awada overtime winner sinks Phoenix

Friday, 2nd March 2007

Phoenix 2 - 3 Giants after overtime

Manchester Phoenix goalie Jason Wolfe played arguably his best game of the season on Thursday night and left the ice dejected and speechless after George Awada's overtime strike earned Belfast the win.

Playing their third consecutive game and fourth in five nights, Phoenix conceded the opening goal inside the first minute to Jeff Hutchins, but showed tremendous spirit despite their obvious physical and mental fatigue as they battled back to earn a valuable point for the regulation time tie.

Belfast, with new signing Phillippe DeRouville making his Giants debut in goal, were much the sharper and incisive in the opening exchanges as they sought to demoralise the battle-weary Phoenix squad. Phoenix though are made of sterner stuff and they fought their way back into the game with DeRouville making a number of key saves in the opening period.

Phoenix eventually drew level five minutes into the second session with a powerplay marker from Johan Molin after smart set-up play involving Tony hand and David Vychodil. The period was a much more even affair than the first which had seen Phoenix outshot by the visitors and tied one-one after forty minutes, the goalies had staked their claims for the respective men of the match awards.

Phoenix came close to taking the lead early in the third period as they carved open the Giants defence only for the chance to go begging, and the Giants immediately capitalised as two quick passes released former Phoenix star George Awada and he raced in one-on-one to beat Wolfe for the go-ahead goal. Phoenix refused to buckle under the mounting Giants pressure and deservedly drew level as Molin split the Giants defence for Radoslav Hecl to score from close range in the 47th minute. The game was poised on a knife-edge and both goalies showing superb form to prevent the regulation time winner and send the game into sudden death overtime.

And it was Awada who broke the Phoenix hearts with just over a minute remaining as once again, he broke clear and finished clinically. The Phoenix, and goalie Jason Wolfe in particular, were visibly stunned as Belfast celebrated their victory, but they earned generous applause from their army of fans for the magnificent effort of the past five nights.

Bench coach Mike Kiesman summed up the feeling of the Phoenix locker room when he said, "This has been a tough, tough week and to lose tonight after such a display is like a kick in the teeth for the boys. They worked their socks off and thoroughly deserved the point they got. I think both teams would have settled for the draw after forty minutes such was the pace of the game, but the rules determine there has to be a winner and tonight, we didn't quite have enough gas in the tank."

Phoenix get Friday off to rest their tired and aching bodies before taking on the Hull Stingrays on Saturday (Face-off at 7.00pm) and the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday (Face-off at 6.30pm). Tickets for both games in the Altrincham Ice Dome are still available and can be ordered online at