Phoenix outworked in Hull

Saturday, 20th October 2007

Hull Stingrays 5 - 3 Manchester Phoenix

Manchester Phoenix went down to a disappointing loss in the bmibaby Elite League on Saturday as the Hull Stingrays fought back superbly from a two-goal deficit.

Phoenix made the perfect start courtesy of an Omar Ennaffati powerplay strike in the third minute and doubling their lead just past the five minute mark when Tony Hand finished an excellent attack. But if the Phoenix thought they were in for an easy night, they were soon rocked back on their heels as the Stingrays simply rolled up their sleeves and outworked the Phoenix from that point. Hull reduced the arrears by the midway point of the period as Lee Mitchell netted from close range as Scott Fankhouser became by far the busier netminder. Tempers flared shortly before the first break, but Phoenix took the narrow advantage to the locker room.

The second period though saw Hull continuing to dominate and their superior work rate tolled as the equaliser came in the 22nd minute from Rob Rankin and then they took a two-goal lead on strikes from Jake Riddle and Paul Cabana in the 25th and 28th minutes respectively, prompting Phoenix to use their timeout to steady the ship. Phoenix were still playing second fiddle to a hard-working Hull side, and were visibly dismayed at a number of penalties they thought should or could have been called on the home side.

Phoenix came out for the third period determined to bite back and made it a one-goal game in the 46th minute as leading scorer Joe Tallari was found in space and his buried a powerplay marker. Phoenix were piling on the pressure but paid the price on a delayed penalty on Ennaffati with Tallari already in the penalty box on a Tripping minor - Rob Rankin scoring from close range in the 50th minute to restore the Stingrays two-goal margin. Try as they could, Phoenix were unable to pierce the Hull rearguard again and at the final hooter, player/coach Tony Hand picked up a game misconduct penalty for venting his anger at the referee.

Hand commented, "I give Hull a great deal of credit, they fought back impressively after we made a very good start and we didn't match their intensity. I wasn't happy with the officiating tonight, but we have to get ourselves back on track on Sunday against Hull again, if we're to progress in the cup."

Phoenix are at home on Sunday night in Challenge Cup action against the Hull Stingrays in a 5.30pm face off at the Silver Blades Ice Dome in Altrincham.