Empty-netter denies Phoenix fightback

Saturday, 10th November 2007

Manchester Phoenix 3 – 5 Cardiff Devils

An empty net goal from Jason Silverthorn in the final minute sealed a Saturday night victory for the Cardiff Devils and denied the Phoenix after a valiant fightback.

 In a game played at a terrific pace and high level of intensity, it was the Phoenix who struck first in the tenth minute as player coach Tony Hand netted assisted by Joe Tallari and Brian Passmore on a delayed penalty against the visitors. The Devils, on their first visit of the season to Altrincham, hit back hard with a strong physical approach and their persistence paid off four minutes later as the impressive Max Birbraer slotted home the equaliser. Devils struck a killer second goal just 32 seconds later With Sylvain Deschatelets roofing a short range effort to nudge the visitors ahead at the first interval.

Where the Devils had enjoyed the better possession in the first session, Phoenix came back hard in the second period forcing the Devils into a rash of penalties. Three times the home side had two-man advantages and three times the visitors dug deep to keep the Phoenix forwards at bay with Phil Osaer in the Devils goal making a string of quality saves. Devils struck with deadly effect just before the second interval as Birbraer ghosted to the back post to convert a pass from Silverthorn to give the Welsh outfit a two-goal cushion.

With new signing Luke Stauffacher making a solid debut for Phoenix, the home side came out hard for the third period, but a fourth goal from Cardiff via the stick of Matus Petricko after Tony Hand appeared to be unfairly checked from behind saw tempers rise and Brett Clouthier assessed a10-minute misconduct penalty as he tried to mete out his own form of justice. Trailing by three, Phoenix didn’t let their heads drop and began the fightback. Joe Tallari reduced the arrears on a 46th minute powerplay slotting home a pass from Hand and with the home supporters twirling white towels and raising the noise levels, the scene was set for a dramatic finish. Tallari crashed home his second of the game with less than three minutes to play and the Devils were creaking under the increasing pressure. But, with Scott Fankhouser withdrawn for the extra skater in the final minute, Birbraer fed Silverthorn in the neutral zone and he coolly slid the puck home to seal the Cardiff victory.

Phoenix coach Tony Hand was philosophical afterwards when he said, “They might have had a rough start to the season, but I rate that Cardiff side as possibly the best team we’ve played this year. They are strong in all areas and play a solid physical game. I cannot fault our effort tonight as after the first period, we matched them and were unlucky on a number of occasions, I missed one sitter myself. I was pleased with the debut effort from Luke, he’s had just two training sessions with us since he arrived and I think we saw an improvement in the second line already tonight.”

Phoenix face off at 5.30pm on Sunday in the Silver Blades Ice Dome with the Basingstoke Bison providing the opposition. 

Joe Tallari

Manchester's Man of the Match Joe Tallari scored two of the three Phoenix goals
(Image: Richard Murray)

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