Manchester Phoenix 6 Basingstoke Bison 2
Phoenix scorers: Michal Psurny x 2, Tom Duggan, Joachim Flaten, Andy McKinney and James Archer.
J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix turned the despair of falling agonisingly short on Saturday night against the Flames to unadulterated joy in front of a sell-out crowd with a resounding win over Basingstoke Bison.
Phoenix had lost all five encounters this season and came out determined to get that monkey off their back. Netminder Stevie Lyle, not a great favourite with Manchester fans these days, was called on to make a save within the first 5 seconds. Phoenix were not to be denied an early goal, with their first score after 2.32. The second line, who had started brilliantly, took the honours when great work by Archer and McKenzie gave Tom Duggan the chance to roof a superb shot into the top corner. Lyle was beaten again just over a minute later when a great passing move between Ondrej Pozivil and Tony Hand found Michal Psurny and Phoenix’s top marksman blasted it past Lyle. The Bison netminder, however, was in fine form and made a number of saves to deny Phoenix more goals, the best of them coming from a pad stack save from Liam Chong. With the shot count heavily in the home side’s favour and a comfortable two goal lead, Bison pounced for a goal of their own with just 2 seconds left in the period. Joe Greener moved out from his usual centre position and fired a shot goalwards from the point that took a wicked tip off a Phoenix stick and beat Andy Jaszczyk in the top corner. End of the period and a standing ovation from the crowd for Phoenix.
The second period started with chances at both ends and both netminders made excellent saves to keep the score at 2-1. With half the game gone, Tom Duggan appeared to take an elbow in the face behind the net and, with no call given, player coach Tony Hand showed his displeasure and picked up a 10 minute misconduct. The game was delayed for a few minutes while blood was cleared from the ice and there were several discussions on the incident before play resumed. Bison then had their best spell of the game and after another couple of Lyle saves, they scored the equaliser. With 37.51 on the clock, Matt Selby passed to Jaroslav Cesky and he ripped the puck high over Jaszczyk’s shoulder to make it 2-2.
Phoenix’s answer was devastating, scoring 2 goals in 35 seconds. The first came from some great third line play which pulled the Bison defence all over the ice and Liam Chong found Andy McKinney to finish beautifully. That was timed at 38.50 and the stattos did not even have time to write down the details when Joachim Flaten tucked the puck through Lyle’s five hole to restore Phoenix’s two goal advantage. Assists on Flaten’s goal went to Michal Psurny and Ondrej Pozivil. That was it for the second period and the teams went off for their cuppa with Phoenix leading 4-2.
There were just over three minutes played in the final period when Tony Redmond was penalised for a high stick on Tom Duggan and Phoenix took full advantage making it 5-2.
Lots of pressure in front of the Bison net saw Michal Psurny score his second of the night, poking the puck home. Bison had also lost power forward Joe Greener at the same time as Redmond on a 10 minute abuse of official call. Phoenix continued their domination of the game with a sixth goal on 45.49 when James Archer threw the puck goalwards and it landed past an annoyed Stevie Lyle for 6-2. Bison were looking deflated and their short manned defence were struggling to get the puck out of their zone. The scorer was not troubled any further and Phoenix took a well earned 2 points, bringing them closer to Bison in the race for second place.
Coach Hand was obviously very pleased with the result and had this to say after the match: “I thought we dominated the game tonight and it was great to get a win over Bison. They are a good side and Stevie Lyle has had tremendous games against us this season. Everybody worked hard tonight and it was great to get the result in front of a superb crowd.”
Compere Pete Hagan and Team Owner Neil Morris after addressing the packed house
(Image: Richard Allan)