Ennaffati and Tallari - Sunday night heroes

Sunday, 4th November 2007

Omar Ennaffatti with the equaliser and Joe Tallari with an overtime winner were the Manchester Phoenix heroes on Sunday night as they ground out a victory over the battling Hull Stingrays.
Hull arrived in Altrincham missing two star import forwards, but they came with a gameplan to stifle the Phoenix who were desperate to get back to winning ways. An even first period saw both netminders face seven shots apiece as both sides tried to wrestle control of a puck that rarely sat flat on the ice. Both sides failed to make the most of powerplay opportunities as the first period remained scoreless.

With ice surface making passing something of a lottery, it was the visitors who enjoyed more of the possession in the second session during which the respective powerplay units again failed to make the most of the man advantage. With Hull working hard to clog the neutral zone in the absence of Jeff Glowa and Rob Rankin, as the forty minute mark came with still no score, the evening had the distinct feel of a one-goal game about it.

It was the Stingrays who struck first in the third period as Jake Riddle squeezed the puck past Scott Fankhouser in the 44th minute setting the Phoenix a dig-deep scenario to overcome. Phoenix laid siege to the visitors goal with shots raining in from all angles as the home side responded to the support from the crowd. And their persistence was rewarded in the 52nd minute when a blast from Hungarian international Omar Ennaffati finally pierced the defences of Ladislav Kudrna in the Hull goal. Moments later, Sean Starke saw a shot ping to safety off the crossbar and after Phoenix killed a hooking penalty on Simon Mangos, the regulation time wound down to send the game into sudden death overtime.

Phoenix leading goalscorer Joe Tallari was the man to break he Stingrays hearts and send the Phoenix fans home happy as he collected a feed from Tony Hand before turning to crash the game winner home 56 seconds into the extra session.

Tony Hand remarked, “Hull came in missing two players and they worked hard to shut us down. They’re very good at doing that, but our guys kept calm and didn’t panic. I always felt we’d get the breakthrough and I think we deserved the two points even if we needed overtime to get it. The guys showed their character, we didn’t let our heads get down and we’ll look to use this result to build on in training for next weekends home double-header.”

Next weekend sees Phoenix host the Cardiff Devils on Saturday and Basingstoke Bison on Sunday. Saturday is a 6.30pm face-off while Sunday is the usual 5.30pm start.

Joe Tallari

Tallari scored the game winning goal 54 seconds into overtime
(Image: Richard Murray)

Omar Ennaffati

Ennafatti scored the equalising goal to put Phoenix back into the game
(Image: Richard Murray)

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