New era for the Phoenix Faithful

Thursday, 1st September 2016

A new era began for the Phoenix faithful tonight when they all met down at our new partner for this season, The Bierkeller in the Print Works in Manchester.

Neil Morris opened the proceedings with an overview of how The Ice Dome project was going over at Sports City. He said that there had been an awful lot of work to do in a very short timescale. The partners in the project had all worked tirelessly with Manchester City Council to try and ensure that the site could be ready at the earliest possible date.

Ice Tech said that they had never seen so much progress made in such a short space of time and said that other projects such as Lee Valley, Cambridge and Cardiff took over 18 months just to get to planning. It is amazing that they are on site now. As projected at the last meeting, the Dome will be delivered late and is still running about 12 weeks behind. Neil went on to say that the end goal, of having a building back near the centre of Manchester, was still worth all the pain and the waiting.

Craig Cooke, the Phoenix equipment manager, then gave us an overview of what it has been like since the organisation were unable to get a contract to play out of the Silver Blades Ice Rink in Altrincham. He gave a description of what it was like for him last season, playing out of Deeside.

Having no permanent home meant that he had to pack the kit up after every practice and game and put all the laundry out to a contractor. He said it was very long hours and that the guys did well working out of steel portacabins before the games. This was because they were not allowed near the only 2 changing rooms as they were being used by juniors who had been playing in the earlier games. It was a logistical nightmare but everybody pulled together and made it happen. It was the toughest season he had had with The Phoenix so far.

He then described what it has been like working for the organisation with all the negativity around. He said that he understood that it was mainly nasty people on the outside that had targeted The Phoenix as without a home they had become easy prey. He was sad that people found all the trouble good fun and what had really hurt him was when Phoenix fans had joined in and debated the club’s work ethic and honesty.

He even admitted it was hard when Neil & Tony had made announcements in the public domain that there were so many people saying it was not true, even he would start to question the validity of the content. That just seemed to go on and on. He had sadly witnessed the effect all this negativity had on bringing players to the club and subsequently attracting sponsors and investors. How Neil has kept all the partners and Manchester City Council on board throughout all of this is a miracle as far as he is concerned.

A conversation between Neil and Coach Hand was then played to the audience. Tony re-iterated his faith in Neil Morris that the project would be fulfilled and Phoenix would be back in Manchester soon. He also touched on how difficult it was to recruit this season but things were on track and his last few signings are not far away.

The full conversation will be online on the phoenix podcast

Then it was over to Jim Piper to announce Phoenix’s latest signing.

Coach Tony Hand strengthened his squad by adding experienced Finn Joni Tuominen. The 33 year old defender has played most of his career in the Finnish Liiga for some of the top teams.

Born in Espoo, Joni played his later junior years for his home team Espoo Blues at under 18 and under 20.

He moved up into the Liiga with the Blues, ending up playing 369 games in the top league, also icing for Jukurit , TPS Tappare, HPK Helsinki and SaiPa, for whom he made the majority of his top league appearances.

Joni left his homeland for the first time in 2014, icing for Dresden Lions in DEL 2 and last season for Sanok in Poland where he also wore an assistant badge.

At 5ft 9 inches he will not be the tallest d man in the league but, with his experience of nearly 400 games in the greatly respected Finnish Liiga, it looks like Tony Hand has found another top import.

Coach Hand said: ”Joni will bring a great deal of experience to the defence and will be one of the better import defencemen in the league. The team is taking shape now with one import to come in and the final British players. It has been a tough summer but we are getting in shape for our first game in Fylde next week.”