Steelers survive Phoenix onslaught

Saturday, 13th October 2007

Sponsored by David McLean Nikal

Sheffield Steelers 2 – 1 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix outshot the Sheffield Steelers 43-17 on Friday night, but came up against a red-hot Jody Lehman in goal for the home side.

Phoenix were again without Brett Clouthier and went into the game in third place in the league table, but a third minute penalty on Jeff MacMillan was punished inside eight seconds as Doug Sheppard got a telling deflection to an Ashley Tait shot to put the home side ahead. Phoenix fell two behind six minutes later in bizarre fashion. A Tony Hand shot flew high past the Steelers goal and caromed around the boards and back into the neutral zone. Steelers speedster Jeff Legue gave chase and as Phoenix netminder Scott Fankhouser raced from his crease to throw himself headlong for the puck, Legue manoeuvred past him to fire the puck into the empty net. With the home fans expecting their side to run away with the game, the total opposite ensued as Phoenix reversed the flow of the play and laid siege to Lehman in the home goal.

The second period was practically one-way traffic as Phoenix poured on the coals firing 18 shots at Lehman as they tried to make the most of four consecutive powerplay opportunities. Lehman though was in inspired form and somehow kept the visitors at bay.

With the Steelers again running into penalty trouble early in the third session, Phoenix finally broke through as Sean Starke, at the second attempt, beat Lehman to net a rebound off a Tony Hand shot. Phoenix continued to pour forward in search of an equaliser and the Steelers defence was severely stretched. But Lehman maintained his composure and continued to thwart the Phoenix forwards to earn the win and leapfrog the Steelers into third place ahead of the Phoenix.

Defenceman Jeff MacMillan shook his head as he noted, "We'll play a lot worse than that this season and win comfortably. I couldn't believe the amount of shots we had and how well their goalie played – on another night that could have been an embarrassing score."

Phoenix will look to get back to winning ways on Sunday in the Silver Blades Ice Dome in Altrincham. Their opponents in a 5.30pm face-off are the struggling Belfast Giants.

Jeff MacMillan

Jeff Macmillan
(Image: Richard Murray)

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