Playoff bound Phoenix stun Blaze

Sunday, 11th March 2007

Coventry Blaze 2 - 3 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix gave their playoff hopes a massive boost on Saturday night with a terrific win over the title chasing Coventry Blaze.

Phoenix travelled to the Skydome knowing that a win or a draw would enhance their chances of ensuring post-season qualification. An excellent all-round team performance coupled with other results going their way means the Altrincham based club are within two wins of the playoffs, the target they set themselves at the start of the season.

Derek Campbell got the Phoenix on the scoreboard first in the 8th minute with a excellently taken goal after great work by linemates KC Timmons and Brett Clouthier created the shooting opportunity. Blaze responded immediately with Reid Simonton equalising just 25 seconds later. Phoenix defended well in a first period that saw them outshot 13-8, and the tied score at the first break was fully deserved.

Phoenix regained the lead in the 27th minute on a powerplay as Radoslav Hecl found Tony Hand and the canny Scot delayed momentarily to pick his spot with a superb rising shot off the right wing. The second period saw some excellent hockey from both sides as they matched each other throughout the session and both goalies made some key saves and Phoenix having a narrow escape when a blast from Adam Calder hit a post.

With Phoenix on an early powerplay in the third period, Trevor Koenig in the home goal produced a stunning save to deny Johan Molin what seemed a certain goal. Blaze upped their work rate and began to dominate possession, but Jason Wolfe in the Phoenix net made a string of top quality saves. In the 54th minute, Phoenix looked to have secured the points when Derek Campbell was left all alone to grab his second goal of the game and give the visitors a two-goal lead. Coventry again responded quickly as inside a minute they reduced the arrears as Calder made it a one-goal game with a rising shot that went in off the underside of the crossbar. Blaze pulled their goalie with a minute left to play, but the resolute Phoenix defence kept them at bay to earn a hard-fought and well-deserved victory.

Phoenix netminder Jason Wolfe commented, "that was a tough one as they never stop coming at you. They drive hard to the net and the shots keep on coming. We worked hard tonight and got what we deserved, we've been in every game we've played here this year, so it's nice to take something away from Skydome."

Phoenix are at home on Sunday with a 5.30pm face-off against the Cardiff Devils and then have a home double-header on Wednesday and Thursday against the bottom of the table Edinburgh Capitals - both these games face-off at 7.00pm. Tickets for all three games will be available on the door.