Phoenix pre-season off to a flier

Wednesday, 3rd September 2003

Months of hard work finally came to fruition as the Phoenix faced off for their first ever game, hosting an EPL All Star team at the Desside Leisure Centre. As a bonus, it was a successful match with the Phoenix winning the game 3-1.

Dave Clancy starred in goal as Jayme Platt is still on his way over the Atlantic and his 31-save effort was rewarded with the Man of the Match Award. George Awada scored the first ever Phoenix goal at 4.45 of the first period, taking advantage of a mistake by EPL netminder Barry Hollyhead to fire into an open goal. Mike Morin doubled the lead at 8.14, skating smartly behind the opposition net before firing home through a crowd of players, Eric Lind getting an assist.

In an even game, the All Stars quickly halved the deficit, ex-Manchester Storm player Nick Poole got some speed at the Phoenix blue line to create a 2 on 1 and he put a nice pass across for the unmarked Gary Clarke to fire home to make the score 2-1 at the first break.

Warming upThe visitors had the better of the second period, after a scrappy start, Clancy did well to deny a pair of breakaway opportunities. The Phoenix killed off an interference minor on Mike Morin at 29.19, before the All Stars swapped netminders, Hollyhead replaced by Skins. The new keeper made good stops from Awada and Shin Yahata, but was unable to stop a determined play from Dustin Robin, who won the puck in a faceoff battle before slotting home at the second time of asking at 33.37.

Understandably the teams began to tire and it was a quiet third period, Clancy stopping all 13 shots fired at him, not least a pair in quick succession to deny Gary Clarke. The clock wound down and everyone, including the 400-strong crowd could go home happy.

Flintshire Freeze coach Mark Stokes picked Clancy and Gary Clarke for the Man of the Match Awards, with strong performances from Awada and Mark Thomas. The British players caught the eye with their hard work, and most of all, coach Rick Brebant can look back on the night as a good workout for his squad.