Fankhouser superb as Phoenix complete double win weekend

Monday, 24th September 2007

Manchester Phoenix 2 – 1 Nottingham Panthers

Phoenix followed up Saturdays impressive 2-1 road trip win away to Basingstoke with the same score line on Sunday as they gained revenge for the opening weekend against the Nottingham Panthers.

And it was Phoenix netminder Scott Fankhouser who took the plaudits as he won the Man of the Match award in both games with a string of impressive saves to keep the Phoenix momentum building. Phoenix have now won their last four games and that has seen them surge up the table to their highest ever position, second just a point behind league leaders Coventry.

A tight and competitive game on Sunday saw both defences on top as the first period remained scoreless with few clear opportunities to worry either netminder. The second period was a different story though as Phoenix took the lead on a 26th minute powerplay as Tony Hand and Brian Passmore combined to set up Omar Ennaffatti and the big-shooting defenceman crashed a shot into the roof of the net from just inside the blue line. Six minutes later and the Phoenix doubled their lead as Sean Starke fed Ennaffatti and a second howitzer shot was sweetly deflected past Geoff Woolhouse in the Panthers net by Adam Walker.

Cue Fankhouser at centre stage as the visitors surged forward and the Phoenix goalie demonstrated his skills, in particular with a save that stunned the watching crowd. The Panthers were camped in the Phoenix zone and worked the puck around and behind the net before feeding it to the front to the stick of Sean McAslan. With the Phoenix goal gaping in front of him, it seemed inevitable that the red lamp would come on, but Fankhouser incredibly recovered his ground to foil the Panthers captain with a quite spellbinding save. With the home crowd roaring his name Fankhouser made further impressive stops from PC Drouin and former Phoenix star Johan Molin to send the home side into the second break with a 2-0 lead.

With the noise levels in the Altrincham Ice Dome rising, the Panthers had their one moment of joy in the 50th minute as McAslan finally pierced Fankhouser's resistance on a powerplay with Brain Passmore off for Interference. In the final minutes, Panthers used their timeout and pulled the goalie for the extra skater with Phoenix again shorthanded, but the home side were in no mood to relinquish what they'd fought so hard for and the victory was secured.

Player coach Tony Hand remarked, "that's been a tough weekend, but the players worked really hard and deserved their success. We took our chances and that's the difference between winning and losing. Scott has shown this weekend that he can be a tremendous influence on our season. It's very pleasing to have got back the losses we took in the first weekend, and it's reward for the players as they worked really hard in training all week."

Next weekend sees Phoenix at home on Saturday night with a 6.30pm face-off against the Edinburgh Capitals in the Challenge Cup, before a trip to top-of-the-table Coventry Blaze in the bmibaby Elite League on Sunday.  

Scott Fankhouser

Scott Fankhouser

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