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Phoenix undone by Panthers special teams

Sunday, 9th September 2007

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Nottingham Panthers 2 – 0 Manchester Phoenix

Panthers netminder Rastislav Rovnianek was the home side hero as he stonewalled the Manchester Phoenix in their opening game of the new bmibaby Elite League campaign.

And the defending playoff champions had to rely heavily on their penalty killing unit too before taking the spoils courtesy of two rather fortuitous powerplay goals.

In an entertaining opening period, Phoenix more than held their own and looked very solid defensively until just 18 seconds before the first interval, Patrik Wallenberg scored on a powerplay with Sean Starke in the penalty box for Cross-Checking. The second period was one of total domination by the Phoenix who pinned the home team in their own zone outshooting them 14-5 in the session, but coming up against Rovnianek in inspired form.

With the penalties flowing freely for both sides as referee Dave Cloutman strictly enforced the zero-tolerance rules, both sides put their penalty killing units through their paces. The Panthers though sealed their victory on a two-man advantage just before the midway point of the third period as a shot from Nielson was deflected past Scott Fankhouser by Panthers captain Sean McAslan.

In the final seconds, tempers flared and Phoenix Brett Clouthier fought with Panthers Ryan Shmyr in a heavyweight contest that resulted in a draw.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand commented, "I cannot fault the effort tonight from my guys, we played well and put them under a lot of pressure. Their goalie made some huge saves at key times when we had them on the rack and we just couldn't buy a goal. It's a disappointing result, but we'll look to bounce back on Sunday against Basingstoke."

Phoenix face-off at 5.30pm on Sunday against the Basingstoke Bison, who lost at home on Saturday night, 1-4 to the Coventry Blaze.

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