Phoenix go down fighting to tip-top Blaze

Wednesday, 7th March 2007

Phoenix 3 - 5 Blaze

Aggregate score for Knockout Cup - Blaze win 9-4

Manchester Phoenix more than played their part in yet another entertaining encounter at the Altrincham Ice Dome, but fortune favoured the league leaders as they ran out victors.

Phoenix gave a debut to new signing Anthony Battaglia and he showed his promise with an assist on the first Phoenix goal to level the socres after Adam Calder had fired the Blaze ahead in the third minute. Coventry are not league leaders for nothing and less than a minute after Brett Clouthier had scored Calder bagged his second. Phoenix were undaunted and again drew level as a Tony Hand pass found Derek Campbell on the doorstep to squeeze the second equaliser past Trevor Koenig in the Blaze goal.

Coventry took the lead for a third time early in the second period as Jason Wolfe dropped a shot and Barrie Moore netted from close range. Once again, Phoenix fought back on an a two-man advantage it was Koenig who fauiled to control a David Vychodil shot and Radoslav Hecl rammed in the third game-tying goal. Then the fate of the Phoenix took a cruel twist as a shot from Samy Nasreddine was re-directed past Jason Wolfe off the stick of Phoenix player coach Tony Hand just before the half-hour mark. Again Phoenix strained for another equaliser, but the luck had deserted them and shortly before the second interval, Reid Simonton gave the visitors a two-goal margin for the first time in the game firing through the pads of Jason Wolfe from the right flank.

The speed, intensity and entertainment was no less in the final period even though the flood of goals failed to continue. End to end hockey was the order of play and Trevor Koenig stood firm denying Vychodil, Hecl and Campbell as the Blaze took another step towards the bmibaby Elite League title and cemented their place in the Knockout Cup Final by virtue of the 9-4 aggregate score.

Tony Hand remarked, "we knew tonight was going to be tough as Coventry are a good side and going for the title. We gave them a couple of goals and I was disappointed at the play that led to one going in off my stick. I was pleased with Anthony on his debut, he was tired after the travelling, but I think he'll help us in our quest for the playoffs."

Phoenix are back in action on Thursday when the Hull Stingrays visit the Altrincham Ice Dome for what is a crunch game for both clubs as they seek a berth in the post-season playoffs. Face-Off is at 7.00pm and tickets will be available on the door.