Phoenix lose, but earn top marks for entertainment value

Monday, 5th March 2007

Phoenix 2 - 4 Panthers

Manchester Phoenix lost on Sunday night to the Nottingham Panthers, but despite losing earned the praise of coach Tony Hand for the effort and entertainment value given.

Hand commented, "we gave a tremendous effort tonight to fight back from two-nil down and at two apiece it was anybodies game. We had our chances but right now, we just need one or two bounces to go our way. I cannot fault the effort from the players tonight and I think the reaction of the fans speaks volumes, they were with us right to the end and again, but for the empty-net goal in the final seconds, we're been involved in another one-goal game."

Phoenix went into the game missing injured forwards Ales Parez and Joe Miller and with Matt Rich again unable to take a regular shift. However, the energy that appeared missing on Saturday had returned to the Phoenix limbs and the shortened bench all played their part in a fast and competitive first period that saw Johan Molin crash a shot against a post in the opening minute but which ended goalless.

Panthers broke the deadlock in the second minute of the second period at Matus Petricko scored and things looked bleak for the Phoenix when Joe Cardarelli netted a second marker four minutes later. But, Phoenix rolled up their sleeves and in the 30th minute, great interpassing between Johan Molin and Tony Hand saw the player coach set up the shot for David Vychodil and the Czech defenceman blasted home from the blue line. Phoenix again picked up the pace and four minutes later a superb left wing chase by Derek Campbell saw him fire the puck across the goal mouth for Johan Molin to crash home from close range. The Phoenix fans erupted and it was the visitors who were glad to hear the hooter to end the second session.

Panthers lost Jan Krajicek at the start of the third period, but with fresher legs, they attacked the Phoenix hard from the start with Jason Wolfe called on to make a great save from Joe Cardarelli as he broke in one-on-one with the Phoenix goalie. With Phoenix on a powerplay in the 46th minute, the attack broke down and Panthers broke down the ice with Petricko netting his second of the game to restore the visitors' lead. Derek Campbell then missed a glorious chance to again tie the score before Panthers Corey Neilson was denied by a post. In the final minute, Phoenix pulled Wolfe for the extra skater only for Sean McAslan to complete the scoring with a second attempt on the unguarded net.

Phoenix have home games on Wednesday night against the Coventry Blaze and Thursday when they'll go looking for revenge over the Hull Stingrays for the 2-3 reversal last Saturday.