Incredible run continues at Knights expense

Tuesday, 27th November 2007

Phoenix U-18s  12  - 5  Solihull Knights

Keen to maintain their 100% season, Manchester Phoenix U-18 squad took to the Silver Blades ice last Saturday with new signing Danny Bullock making his debut, but missing regular captain Jake Nurse and Joe Mann. With three of the U-18 squad having experienced training this season with the Elite League squad, confidence was understandably high, despite facing a Solihull side intent on damaging the best record in the league to date despite being without their first choice netminder. 

The visitors started strongly and demonstrated their intentions with the opening goal with less than a minute played. And had it not been for the alertness of Phoenix goalie Adam Summerfield, the Knights could have doubled their lead. Phoenix began to fight back, but needed to be wary of the Solihull counter-attacks. The equaliser came when a move involving Tom Hammond and Rick Ravey ended with debutant Bullock crashing home his first goal in a Phoenix uniform. The joy was shortlived though as the Knights went straight from the re-start into the Phoenix zone to swiftly restore their lead. Again, the visitors failed to capitalise on further pressure and Phil Hamer again tied the scores on the 10-minute mark. Solihull enjoyed more of the play in the second half of the period, but the teams retired at the first break tied at 2-2.

The U-18 coaching duo of Pete Winstanley and Nick Crawley vented their frustration at the sloppy first period in the locker room and it was a different Phoenix that took to the ice for the second session. A quicker pace and greater intensity saw Phoenix take charge and six minutes in they took their first lead as John Murray found Sam Leaver at the back post to sweep home the first of his personal brace. The Knights hit back to tie the game at 3-3 before Phoenix finally found top gear to rattle four unanswered goals into the visitors onion bag – Murray, Leaver with his second, Murray again and Guy Boryczko giving the home side clear water at the end of forty minutes.

Understandably happier the coaching staff however didn’t relent, demanding a strong third period from the Phoenix in what is sometimes their weaker session. Solihull were beginning to feel the pressure and Phoenix duly increased the margin on a powerplay strike from Ryan Pike. Incredibly, the Knights found their second wind and two quick goals gave the Phoenix a stiff reminder that teams won’t just roll over. Urged on from the bench, Phoenix responded in exactly the manner expected, adding another four unanswered goals. Murray completed his personal hat-trick after Tom Hammond had fired a great shot into the top corner. Hamer then scored the goal of the game on a nice assist from Bullock, but the biggest cheer of the game was reserved for Mike Townsend when he rattled home the 12th goal from the slot assisted by Joe Greaves.

A Phoenix spokesperson noted, “We have now played all the teams once and beaten them all, so we have to be pleased. But, the determination now is to keep this run going. The coaching staff have done a fine job, the need now is to keep the players totally focussed for the second half of the season.”


Phoenix Stats

John Murray 3+1, Sam Leaver 2+1, Phil Hamer 2+1, Tom Hammond 1+2, Dan Bullock 1+1, Mike Townsend 1+0, Guy Boryczko 1+0, Ryan Pike 1+0, Rick Ravey 0+2, Shaun Dippnall 0+2, Joe Greaves 0+2, Alfie Olinski 0+1, Olie Bayne 0+1.

Adam Summerfield 31/5

Phoenix PMs  - 8

Phoenix MVP - John Murray.