Short-benched Phoenix fall to Hull

Sunday, 4th March 2007

Phoenix 2 - 3 Stingrays

A weakened Manchester Phoenix found their fifth game in seven nights tough going despite the best possible start on Saturday night.

With long-term injury worry Ales Parez still missing from the line-up, the Phoenix cause was further hampered by the loss of Joe Miller in the pre-game warm-up period and with Matt Rich struggling with a strain, the home side were down to eleven fit skaters.

Phoenix got the perfect start though as Brett Clouthier got a telling deflection to a David Vychodil blast with just over three minutes on the clock, only for the Stingrays to draw level barely 36 seconds later as Jeff Glowa bagged the first of a personal brace. The Phoenix were lacking their normal jump and it was the Stingrays who enjoyed the better possession in the first session that they took as Slava Koulikov thrashed home a second marker in the 14th minute off a great pass from Sergei Kharchenko.

The second period saw Phoenix trying to raise their game, but the fatigue of playing their fifth game in seven nights was a factor as the Stingrays were able to cope with the offensive rushes. Phoenix finally drew level in the 29th minute as player/coach Tony Hand and Radoslav Hecl combined to set up leading scorer Johan Molin for his 32nd goal of the season. Phoenix had chances to regain the lead but Tom Chamberlain in the Hull goal produced fine saves to deny Vychodil from the blue line and Phoenix captain Scott Basiuk.

Early in the third period, Derek Campbell missed a glorious chance to put the Phoenix back in front, before Chamberlain again denied Basiuk and Vychodil with the Phoenix on a 5-on-3-powerplay opportunity. Hull killed the penalties and punished the Phoenix as Glowa bagged his second of the game in the 52md minute with a rasping shot into the top corner. Phoenix threw everything they could muster at Hull in the final minutes and with the Stingrays running into late penalty trouble, Phoenix withdrew goalie Jason Wolfe for an extra skater in the final minute, but to no avail.

Phoenix forward Brett Clouthier commented, "we lacked a little energy tonight as well as three guys. We never really got going and that's disappointing for the fans who came to see us. But, we've got another game Sunday so it's straight to bed for me to get some rest and hopefully, be ready to go Sunday."