PHOENIX BAG BIG 4 POINT WEEKENDER!

MANCHESTER PHOENIX   6   –  3  SWINDON WILDCATS

This weekend saw Manchester Phoenix return to winning ways after a run of 5 straight losses, When they beat the Slough Jets in Berkshire Saturday night 6-2. Phoenix took a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period with Liam Chong getting the goal & Ritchie Bentham who assisted the goal turned goal scorer as he made it 2-0 for Phoenix, Before Mindy Kieras shot a Powerplay goal to beat Andrew Jaszczyk in the Phoenix nets as he took over duty between the pipes instead of Jorge El-Hage.

So as we entered the final period it turned into a goal frenzy as James Archer & Tom Duggan scored 2 early goals to make it 4-1 before Slough hit back with Darius Pliskauskas making it 4-2. But eventually the game was killed off with goals by Tom Duggan and Archer both picking up their 2nd goals of the game to make it a clean sweep of wins at The Hanger this season.

Sunday night at the Altrincham Ice dome saw Phoenix complete a 4 point weekend with a 6-3 win over the Swindon Wildcats. Phoenix kept faith with ex- Hull Stingrays netminder Andrew Jaszczyk between the pipes as they tried to make it 2 wins from 2, Also Player-Coach Tony Hand iced after he was missing in Slough with a niggly injury.

As the game started Phoenix had a early chance under a minute in when Andy McKinney had a shot saved by Thomas Murdy in goals for the Wildcats. Phoenix went on the powerplay as Steven Whitfield served 2 mins in the penalty box for TRIPPING at 2-52, Phoenix started off brightly as Duggan and McKenzie combined well on the first half of the powerplay with a couple of shots as they both had chances. The 2nd half of the penalty was spent in Phoenix zone as the top line failed to get any kind of play going at all.

McKenzie & Duggan then broke away on a 2 on 1 and when the puck came back to Duggan the puck wouldn`t stay on the stick and took a snap shot which missed the target. Phoenix were in control of the game as Murdy was by far the busier of the 2 goaltenders as he made save upon save upon save. Hand thrown a pass across ice where Joachim Flaten one timed it only for Murdy to be equal to it. The Wildcats went back on the penalty kill as Aaron Nell went for HIGH STICKS at 7:52 and as no movement from the powerplay was forthcoming Hand took a slapshot on Murdy which was saved and deflected out of play.

Ondrej Pozivil then had a chance himself but was kick saved by Murdy who was having a good game in nets for the Cats, Phoenix pressed and pressed the Swindon defenses but was finding it hard to crack the barrier of Murdy as he made 2 saves from Michal Psurny & an effort off Liam Chong to keep the scoreboard 0-0.  Eventually the breached the line of defense as Tony Hand wristed one past the netminder for a 1-0 lead 11-52.  James Archer could have made it 2 right from the restart as his backhand attempt went over the bar. Swindon should have scored near the end when the puck was passed infront of the net to the forward who effort was put wide.

2nd period, Tom Duggan was hit from behind into the boards by Swindon player coach Ryan Aldridge and was given a 2 min pen for BOARDING at 20-33, McKinney broke away on a 1 on 1 but Murdy denied the forward. Again the Wildcats were in penalty trouble as Matias Perkkio was called for SLASHING at 23-04 and Jan Melichar then went to the box for SLASHING as well at 24-43. The home side couldn`t make any headway on the 5 on 3 powerplay, but Psurny then went on his own by driving to the net and forcing a rebound to which his hard work paid off as he battled around the net and put it in the net for a 2-0 lead at 25-23.

Swindon instantly struck back as Paul Swindlehurst who dropped his glove and as he bent down to pick his glove up the puck fell to him after Jaszczyk couldn`t stop the rebound as the defense was nowhere to sweep up the rebounds. Then less than an minute later James Neil shot was turned in by Tomas Fojtik as the shot rebounded in off his skate. Rob Schnabel then went for INTERFERENCE at 28-58, that penalty kill didn`t last long as Perkkio was called for GOALIE INTERFERENCE at 29-39.

James Neil then took down a Wildcats player when he was nearly clear on goal but was Hooked  back and so went for HOOKING timed at 30-57.  Duggan had a chance as he cut in from the right wing before the Wildcats defense slipped and took the net and goalie with him as he had a little look of embarrassment on his face too. The Visitors then went on the powerplay and made short work of it as Perkkio and Aldridge combined for Nell to score on the powerplay but only just as the shot hit the post and then landed dead millimetres over the line. Wildcats then struck the cross bar as the puck pinged off the pipe work.

So as the period ended it was a 1 goal game, with Phoenix needing to concentrate as Swindon were starting to get a foothold in the game towards the end of the 2nd period. 

3rd period Fojtik was called for INTERFERENCE at 41-40 and Wildcats managed to kill penalty off, However a silly penalty by Schnabel behind his own net when Hand was skating freely brought him a INTERFERENCE call which had Hand furious and chunnering under his breath as it put his team down a man for 2 minutes. Swindon of course scored off it to tie the game at 3-3 with a bullet one timer from Matias Perkkio beating Jaszczyk high past him. Ryan Aldridge and Tomas Fojtik got assists credited to them on the goal at 44-57. Jan Melichar then got called for HIGH STICKS as he got Duggan high with his stick high up on him as well as taking him hard into the board in doing it at 47-40. 



Phoenix retook the lead as Tony Hand passed to Norwegian forward Joachim Flaten in the slot and his shot went high over the flashing glove save of Murdy who couldn`t believe it went in as he reflected on the goal, The 4th coming on 52:18.
Then 3 mins later Flaten again killed off the game as he added his second of the game thanks to some hard work by Hand against the boards as he held off the Wildcats defenses advances moved it along the boards to Psurny who found Flaten and his one time shot was drilled in the smallest of gaps to make it 5-3 to the home side at 55:36

Swindon pulled their goalie for the final 2 minutes of the game to try and claw back the 2 goals needed to tie and take it to overtime. Wildcats came close to pulling one back but the Phoenix defence stood firm and cleared the puck away with Pozivil passing to Flaten who took a hit to make a play towards Psurny and the Czech sniper tucked it away for an Empty net goal at 58:06 to thwart any chances Swindon had. And the last play of the game was Tomas Fojtik being called for BOARDING at 59-43. 


STATS:

Shots on Goal


Swindon:  Thomas Murdy 49  (87.76%)    
Manchester:  Andrew Jaszczyk  21 (85.71%)

PIM:

Swindon : 18   Manchester: 8


MAN OF THE MATCH:

Swindon: 10# Matias Perkkio     MANCHESTER: 8# Joachim Flaten

links:

 

PHOENIX PODCAST:

The Official Manchester Phoenix Podcast: Cats, Wood and all that Jazzy: A bit of a strange show this week.  I think the cold wind in the car park got to us a little bit. Anyway, the Cats were dispatched by a ha…

Advertisements

CITY GIVE CHELSEA MORE AWAY DAY BLUES!

     MANCHESTER CITY    2  –  0    CHELSEA

Manchester City hard earned victory over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium sunday saw them reduce the 15 point gap to just 12 points now, Needing a miracle to catch their bitter rivals and hope they go on a dreadful run to retain the title.

City started the way they carried on previously against Leeds in the FA Cup last week, They had the first chance of the game as a tame shot by Yaya Toure rolled to Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal after 39 seconds in the game.  City were much the dangerous side and had plenty of the ball but Chelsea set out to frustrate the home side as the entire penalty area was a wash with black shirts and stopped any efforts that would come in on goals.

Rodwell had his effort from a corner blocked by Gary Cahill & the defenders cleared the ball away. But the warning signs were their for the away side. As the English champions were putting the European champions under the cosh.

The official Andre Marriner, wasn`t endearing himself to the home fans as he gave many many soft fouls City and when they had similar or even better cases for a whistle the referee wasn`t interested at all. A Jack Rodwell tackle on Ramires was full bloodied challenge which he won cleanly but as Ramires went down Marriner instantly gave fouls when players just stayed down. City captain on the day Pablo Zabeleta couldn`t believe his bad luck when Belgian player Eden Hazard went to ground when a foot or 2 away but won the free kick, Was making the home fans more irate with some strange decisions.

To be fair though he gave alot of decisions on both sides wrongly, as he seemed to award free kicks when they weren`t and when they were plum fouls he didn`t give them. As both teams were confused by many decisions he awarded in the game. Chelsea only attempt if thats what you call it came courtesy of a long range free kick by Frank Lampard who shot it near the half way and reached Row G in the Upper tier behind Joe Hart goals. Not one to put in the Lampard scrapbook to be perfectly honest as it was truly woeful.

Yaya Toure was tackled unfairly by a Chelsea player but the referee didn`t see it as a foul, Rodwell was then booked as he put a challenge in on Branislav Ivanovic, But the official thought it was worthy of a Yellow card this time .The home fans were feeling that the ref was against them as he hardly seem to blow for any tackle made by the West London side.

Many cries and chants directed at Marriner weren`t very complimentary it has to be said, City had to forget about the officating and focus on channeling it in a positive manner. And they nearly did as a swinging corner by David Silva came in and Rodwell took a shot but was saved by Cech. City nearly brokethrough as a cross from Silva missed everyone but Zabaleta arriving in the box and his volley was cleared by Cahill heading away when it looked to be heading goalwards.

Approaching half time and with the constant pressure from the home side it seemed a matter of when not if when the goal would come, And from another Silva corner Rodwell again got onto the cross and his header was saved by Cech & moments later yet another corner again was headed goalwards and saved by Cech pushing away.Somehow the scoreboard was nil nil when it was the home side dominating play.

Second half came around and Chelsea seemed to show a bit of life as they decided to have a go and not stay defensive like there tactics had been in the first half of play.  Sergio Aguero had a chance but his effort was wide of the net and still City searched for this opener. Hazard had a try with Hart stopping the ball and then gave a penalty away minutes later, When the ref pointed to the spot by bringing Demba Ba down in the area as Kolo Toure luckily got back  to avoid the England no1 getting sent off.

PIC: bbc sports

The England shot stopper came up against his International Teammate in Frank Lampard who strike was low and in the corner but Hart did fantasticially well to get down and palm it away & from that point it seemed to energise City more and Chelsea seemed to be clueless. Mancini pushing for the goal took off Jack Rodwell who had his best game for City since moving, And was replaced by Carlos Tevez as Rodwell had been spoken to abit so to save him he was took off.

PIC: bbc sports

Tevez record against Chelsea was very impressive as he seemed to always score against the West London outfit so would he today carry on the record.  A ball played to Aguero fell to the little Argentinian and his shot over Cech went agonisingly over the cross bar and the sense was it was coming soon now the goal.  So of course it was no surprise when the goal did finally come as great work by Silva to keep the ball in play the Spanish wizard found Yaya Toure and after he made space dragging defenders the wrong way he curled a shot far post clipping it to make it 1-0 after 62 minutes.

Rafa Benitez then took Lampard  & Hazard off and brought Moses  & Oscar on for the final 20 mins or so of the game, Then with 10 minutes to go brought off Mikel for Fernando Torres and he made no impact on the game whatsoever and basically seem to throw the towel in with that sub.  City got the insurance marker as Carlos Tevez continued to haunt Chelsea as his fierce shot beat Cech all ends up and sent the City faithful out of their seats with a great strike for 2-0 in the 84 minute and all but made the game save for the Light Blue side.

Final whistle came and the home fans were jubiliant while alot of the Chelsea fans were just getting on the motorway by the time the Game ended with a lot of disgruntled away supporters.

ENGLAND SEE OFF REJUVENATED FRANCE

ENGLAND    23  –  13   FRANCE

England kept their Grand Slam dream alive with a hard fought victory over France at Twickenham saturday night. Before the game pundits were all worried this game would be a non event and the English would easily trample over their neighbours from the English Channel. England had been powerful and strong in the first 2 games and look the real deal this year in the RBS Six nations.

Their opponents, had suffered a mixed bag in the Championship this year as they just beat Italy in Rome struggling to get a win. And their last game against Wales was played in awful conditions but they played terribly against the welsh and made too many sloppy errors and handling errors. This resulted in the home crowd booing them out the ground and had the press absolutely slam them  as well as the French coach Philippe-Saint Andre.

The game was billed as “Le Crunch” between the 2 rival sides and as the match started it didn`t take long for England to get on the scoreboard as a Penalty for offside was converted by the boot of Owen Farrell in under 2 minutes. The fears of it being one sided was starting to get whispered about, But France were a different side as they came back and made some good plays. France had a good attack which was knocked on by Bastareaud but luckily for him France was playing the advantage and so play came back for Morgan Parra to kick it over to draw level at the 5th minute.

 France then showed they meant buisness as they dominated early on in the scrum and were over powering the english pack, As Les Bleus were punishing the home side in the scrum and France continued to press on with the scrum as they gained a little victory by showing they could push England around. Again the French attacked and were unlucky when a ball passed and hit forward with Trinh-Duc boot and was run onto by Fofana who kicked it along the ground but was pulled back for the ref to say Trinh-Duc knocked on which was a tough call on the French.

PIC: bbc sports

Tensions between Farrell & Huget flare as they have a little shoving match after a run of play is whistled dead. England had some possession but turned the ball over to the French and then were penalised for not rolling away on the England captain Chris Robshaw. France were much more the stronger side in the game, England then through a good run of play was awarded a penalty which was kicked into touch inside the French 22 & England drove the ruck on and while playing the advantage Tuilagi ran towards the try line but was tackled.

PIC: bbc sports

Farrell then tried a chip kick to the far side for the run of Chris Ashton but his kick was to far, Farrell did convert the penalty for England and made it 6-3. France from the restart struck back as their hard work paid off as Fofana broke away from a couple of England players then managed to keep running and held off the final 2 challenges that awaited him and scored a great solo try and with the conversion made it 10-6 for the visitors.

Domingo then gave a penalty away for not rolling away quick enough for the referees liking and Owen Farrell kicked over to reduce the lead to a solitary point. Parra had a chance to make it a 4point lead going into the half time break as a French player was adjudge to have been taken out in the lineout, Parra kick went wide of the posts and brought the end to an interesting 1st half.

PIC: bbc sports

Second half  France had a great chance to extend the lead again and again Parra pulled his kick wide of the posts giving a huge sigh of relief to the Home side. England re-took the lead as a scrum by the french collapsed and gave Farrell the chance to kicke the 3points on offer and the youngster did just that for a 12-10 scoreline.

England were starting to look like the side in the previous 2 games as they were kicking on now having alot of phases now. Goode then launched a high ball toward the french which Nyanga couldn`t deal with and when the ball was on the deck a kick forward by a England players richocheted off a team mate and Tuilagi pounced on it and run it back for a try to make it 17-10 but Farrell missed the conversion.

Les Bleus hit back with a penalty as Michalak kicked over for to reduce the gap to 4 points, Farrell then missed a penalty dragging it wide and in the process looked to have a pained expression written across his face as he seemed to have pulled his groin taking the kick. And when he tried to kick upfield his kick was poor and limped badly after that.

PIC: bbc sports

England were looking better now and France were running out of steam after the great first half they had, So England just started to take the game away from the French and showed the tiredness and lapses in concentration when a careless pass was intercepted by Robshaw who couldn`t make of it as he was brought down.

Another penalty was awarded for England and Flood put it over to make 20-13. And right near the end France didn`t release the ball when under pressure and Saint Andre couldn`t believe it in the stands and Flood put the game beyond doubt with further penalty added to the scoreboard and rub salt in the wounds of the French.

WALES RAIN IN ITALY

 

  ITALY                 9   –   26               WALES

PIC: bbc sports

They say Rome wasn`t built in a day, But on this day Wales had built up something called Confidence amongst the Welsh ranks. Wales came into this clash with the Italians on the back of a famous win in Paris beating the French on an awful pitch and to the boos of thousands of French fans at their own players. This time they were met with a 75% full stadium in Rome and bad weather instead.

So as kickoff approached so did the rain from the heavens, Wales to be honest dominated the hosts as Italy were pressured in all areas as the scrum which is normally their well known for a good scrum, However Wales completely out scrummed the Italians and had them on the rack.
Yet the the bad weather that was coming down was awful to play in and a couple of knock ons didn`t help either side to be fair.  The visitors took the lead after an offside by the home team gave Leigh Halfpenny the chance to kick over from close range to make it 3-0 for the men in Redin the early stages.
PIC: bbc sports

Italy drew level shortly after when Gethin Jenkins was penalised for collapsing in the scrum and gave Kris Burton the chance to kick for goal, Which he duly obliged and make it 3-3. Italy once again failed to deal with the power from the Welsh pack and they powered forward and the Italian pack collapsed like a house of cards with gave them another penalty and Halfpenny kick went over to retake the lead again. 

The referee had words with Martin Castrogiovanni the captain of Italy side as he was starting to show signs of annoyance with the scrum and the captain complaints over it, when they were simply being outplayed. Halfpenny again kicked over to make it 9-3 and extend the lead to 6 points.
It showed at point the wet conditions when the Italians went for the corner from the half way line his kick went to Cuthbert inside the Welsh 22metre line missing touch but was luckily knocked on to spare the kickers blushes and was in a better position too. From that following possession Burton tried a drop goal which went wide and to add insult to injury a Welsh player barged into him accidently.
Italy won a penalty when the Wales scrum was going down and the referee gave a stern warning to both captains over the scrums, Telling them anymore and it`s sinbins. So Kris Burton stepped up and put it through the uprights trailing now 6-9.  Wales won a penalty themselves as Gethin Jenkins blocked an attempted kick away by the Italian player and the player then jumped on the ball to stop the Welsh forwards getting it and was called for not releasing the ball.
So Wales had a great chance to pull away again and with “Mr Reliable” Leigh Halfpenny kicking you`d think it was a safe bet to convert, But on this occassion his kick drifted wide of the post and Italy were let off.
 
Second half  Wales changed gear by upping their play abit and when a nothing kick up field by Mike Philips bobbled between 2 Italian players & Johnathon Davies kicked it towards the try line and got scored a try along with the conversion to make it 16-6 and extend it to 10 points the lead.  Italy pulled it back to 7 as Wales tackled a Italy player too early in the line-out and so Burton scored the penalty with half an hour left in the game.

PIC: bbc sports

Italy were really struggling to deal with the power and force of the Welsh pack and yet again the Italians crumbled under the pressure and gave Halfpenny a chance to make the lead back to 10 points again. The Cardiff Blues Winger kicked it over the post for 19-9 lead, Wales defense came under a bit of pressure but were never in much trouble as Italy lacked the cutting edge and ideas of penetrrating the Welsh back line.

Worst was to come for the Azzurri as captain was given a yellow card and so was sin binned for 10 mins as he was warned by the referee many times for popping up in the scrum but he still carried on doing it. So the following play Wales attacked down towards the 22metre line and the forwards stretched the home side as they quickly moved the ball out towards the left wing & when Davies sold the dummy to Canale, That gave Cuthbert time to take the ball and ran to the line leaving the blue shirt in his wake and give Wales the killing off try.

Italy had fair amount of possession after the try but again didn`t create anything to mention as Wales defended their lead and were never worried at all. Handling errors were a factor as it reached 10 a piece for both sides making silly mistakes and Italy had a great chance when Zanni was thrown the ball but he knocked on as if he had held it there was no red shirts to stop him.

PIC: bbc sports

Cuthbert did the same not long after as a poor pass aimed for him teammate nearly fell into the hands of the Wales player but it was too quick to take. Wales played out the remaining minutes and sit 2nd in table behind England with a possible Title decider at the Millenium stadium to come.

FLAMES FIRE-POWER EDGES OUT PHOENIX!!

MANCHESTER PHOENIX     2   –  4    GUILDFORD FLAMES

 

Sunday Night at the Altrincham Ice dome saw the final Regular season visit of the Current EPL Champions the Guildford Flames as they just edged a close game against the hosts,Winning 4-2 with them capitalising on the home sides mistakes.

Phoenix welcomed back Joachim Flaten to the fold after a eye injury he picked up in the Semi final 1st leg down in Guildford a few weeks back & were missing starter netminder Steve Fone with a groin injury still.
For the Flames they were missing Liddiard, Cooke and normal terrorisier Jozef Kohut who was serving a suspension.

1st Period

Manchester had an extra rest as they had no game on the saturday evening and would be the fresher, Considering the Flames and Bracknell Bees played out a 7-6 Overtime Win at the Spectrum in Guildford. So after that game it seemed like the energy levels would be a down as Phoenix could capitalise on the tiredness as it went on.

Both sides took to the ice and so that it was upto Referee Andy Miller to drop the puck and get the “PYRO DERBY” going.
Phoenix started the quicker getting in the flames zone with ease numerous times problem was no shots were on target and Mark Lee spent more time watching the puck along the board and his team mates frustrating the home side then facing rubber. Phoenix did put the puck in the net but the net was clearly off the moorings well before the shot went in.

Tom Duggan who even by his standards hasn`t had the greatest season this year, He seemed a lone man as the ex-Flames player was putting himself about and hitting and grinding making plays ,Something his team mates were struggling to do in the game.
And came as no surprise when Guildford took the lead with some great movement as Branislav Kvetan was adjudged to have kept the puck in the Phoenix zone his pass found David Longstaff along the boards and his back hand no look pass found Curtis Huppe and he put it home for a 1-0 scoreline in favour of the Flames at 3-55 gone in the game.

The First Penalty came not long after against Joachim Flaten for Phoenix as he sent for 2 minutes for HOLDING THE STICK at 4-26. Which did seem a bit of a poor call as moments before Duggan was clearly boarded by Kvetan but ref called nothing,but the weakest call  in the entire play put the visitors on the powerplay. Phoenix killed it off and tried to find a goal but were frustrated as they didn`t have the look of a teams that would score many.

Eventually the home side did draw level as good battle in the corner by Player Coach Tony Hand was played to Michal Psurny behind the Guildford net and and as he skated from behind the net he threw one on goal and banked it in off Lee at 8-21 to make it 1-1.

Andrew Hemmings then went to check Schanbel and the tall Czech defenseman looked at him and Hemmings himself knew it was a poor decision. Andrew Sharp then tried to hit the big man, his effort at checking was worse as he went into the boards and nearly opened the zamboni corner up for the missed check. As the doors were looking loose after that & just before the end Hemmings went to the box for HOOKING at 19-44 

Phoenix started well, gave a goal away and then amanaged by the end to make it a even steven game overall.

2nd Period

r
Manchester come out with some great pressure put on the Flames defense and causing some problems. Phoenix who were on the powerplay that was running over into the 2nd, Was turned into a goal as “Sniper” Luke Boothroyd scored from close range after Tony Hand & Michal Psurny combined to set the Captain up to put the home side ahead and send the Manchester fans happy with joy at 20-24.

Phoenix ran into more penalty trouble as this Andy Mckinney was called at 25-19 for HOLDING THE STICK ,When it looked like a pen on Guildford was being called as the players thought that briefly. Phoenix did fantastic on the penalty kill again as they blocked shots and scrambled desperately to clear the crease and stop any scraps at the front of El Hage nets.

Penalty got killed and moments later Jez Lundin had his effort ring off the crossbar and away to mid ice and Phoenix clear their zone. The pressure by the Flames in the last 10 mins had Phoenix in trouble and scrambling all over and so when Nathan Rempel passed to Rick Plant his vision saw Milos Melicherik skate unopposed towards the far side and he tapped into a unguarded net as he turned the defender got free and scored to tie it at 2-2 at 32-51.

Richard Bentham struck the post for Phoenix as they found a shooting lane open, Then in the 37-20 Longstaff skated on the right took it behind the net lost his man and shot from outside the faceoff circle and his shot went through the FIVE-HOLE of El-Hage as it was a good accurate shot that beat him, But really shouldn`t be scored on from that distance between the legs.

So Guildford took a 3-2 lead heading into the last period of play with possible tiredness to kick in hopefully if you was a Phoenix fan. But the way they played in the last 10 mins you`d think Manchester had were the side playing without the days rest.

3rd Period

The game got scrappy as neither side could get a foothold in the period as both team battled for play. Manchester had the puck more but couldn`t make the possession tell and hfound Mark Lee saving everything and making some saves better than they were with flashy gloves saves which were more for show than really dangerous shots.

Guildford picked up a penalty as Kvetan was called for TRIPPING at 50-46, Phoenix couldn`t make any headway on the powerplay at all. So as we entered the last few minutes Phoenix started to commit to attack more and hope to pull the goalie when they had possession Kvetan started an attack with a minute to go his effort hit the plexi glass behind the goal and bounced so hard it hit the rookie netminder on the back and just went in to kill off the game at 59:10 as they celebrated the goal much to the disappointment and slumped shoulders of El Hage as he was mixed with embarrassment,anger and down too.

Game finished to bring the score to 4-2 Guildford and Phoenix look to try and rebuild confidence in the side as quick as they can as they seem a very different side from early season to new year.

(photos: Manchester Phoenix ice hockey club)

FACTS:

SHOTS ON GOAL: 

Lee: 34   ,  EL HAGE 39

PENALTIES:

PHOENIX 4   , FLAMES 4

MAN OF THE MATCH:

OLYMPIC DREAM OVER FOR GB SQUAD

The Olympic dream for the mens Great Britain squad unfortunately came crashing down in tatters last weekend in Latvia. As over the 3 games the GB national side played they came out with 3 defeats and unlucky in one of them.

The opening game for the Great Britain squad was against the Hosts Latvia, As a full Riga Arena had the home fans in full voice as the locals all anticipated their side to qualify for the Winter games in Socchi in Russia next year. And they expected to beat the GB team easily as they were the top seeds and the Brits were ranked 21st and the lowest side in the tournament.

GREAT BRITAIN  2  –  6   LATVIA  (Thursday)

So Thursday evening Great Britain faced off against Latvia, The game started off with a quick pace and both sides having early attempts. It was the home side that kicked off the scoring as Mejia put a one-timer past Stevie Lyle in the GB nets, thanks to some quick play against the backboards was passed towards the slot and the Latvian put wide of Lyle to send the home support into raptures with an early lead.

You`d be forgiven if you thought the occasion and early goal would make the heads drop within the ranks of the away side, But they did the complete opposite as they responded within a minute as Rob Dowd scored the goal to tie the game up. The Sheffield Steelers forward silenced the crowd apart from the 200 and odd Traveling army from the British Isles that celebrated the goal.

G.B goal came from good work by Belfast Giants player Colin Shields who knocked the puck down with his stick after a disappointing clearance by the Latvian Defenseman while along the boards, Shields then saw his hard work pay off as his pass towards the front of goal found Dowd who skated into space and slotted home for 1 – 1.

PIC: bbc sports

G.B were taking a lot of penalties in the game as the officials were giving them every minute it seemed on Tony Hands men. Latvia then shown first hand how effective their Powerplay was, As with quick passing and movement within the powerplay Alexandra Nizivijs who was stood by the right of Lyle goal passed it quickly to the back post where Mike Indrasis was to put home for 2-1.
PIC: bbc sports

As we entered the second period Britain was forced to play a defensive game as it was a penalty strewn period for the away side as they spent most of it with a man in the penalty box. For all the great effort GB put in on the defensive aspects, they had Shields in the penalty box for SLASHING before Latvia took advantage taking no longer than 16 seconds as Nizivijs passed to Bartulis on the blue line and his rocket from the slot went past Lyle before he could make any effort to stop it as he was screened for a 3-1 lead.

In the 3rd stanza Latvia pushed on as they increased they their lead with Ronalds Kenins scoring for 4-1, GB were forced into a solid 4 minute penalty kill as they took dumb silly penalties and Latvia were just breaking them down easier now. Georgis Pujacs made it 5-1 with play starting down in the GB zone by the corner, before the puck was played to the slot and was knocked along where the defenseman jumped on the play and hit it between the legs of Lyle.
Britain got a consolation goal back as Craig Peacock drove to the net to make it 5-2 while on a 5-on-3 powerplay. Matt Meyers was then kicked out of the game after a late Check from behind and got a 2 +10 penalty. There was still enough time for Lativa to scored a sixth as Lauris Darzins scored 16 seconds from the end of the game to make the scoreline a more commanding victory.
———————————————————————————————————————–

 

GREAT BRITAIN   2  –  4   FRANCE (Friday)

Friday afternoon saw the Great Britain side face off in a close battle with France, Both sides went into the game losing their opening games so this was seen as a great opportunity for GB to beat a very good hockey nation.
PIC: bbc sports
Both sides had chances with Fabrice Lhenry  & Stevie Lyle called into action early, GB then lost the services of the Phil Hill who was took to hospital to get an X-ray on his wrist as he was checked heavily into the boards so they were down a man. Ashley Tait was sat for 2 minutes for SLASHING  when the French took the lead through a rocket from Laurent Meunier who dashed over the blueline and slapshot past Lyle.
PIC: bbc sports
Second period saw France up their game a bit more and GB were still getting in penalty trouble as the officials were calling some dubious calls on Tony Hand`s men and missing blatant calls. France then scored their 2nd goal on a delayed penalty, As Pierre Edouard Bellemare fired an accurate one time shot past Lyle from the slot. They were punished more so when a powerplay goal by Damien Fleury made it 3-0 as a shot from the hash marks found twine and GB were in a hole and in despair.
PIC: bbc sports

The final period a come back from the Brits as Craig Peacock netted a rebound from a mad scramble infront of Lhenry crease and eventually Peacock effort went over the line to the joy of his teammates and travelling army of fans who were fantastic in all the game getting behind their side in every game. That made it 3-1 and hope was raised of a fantastic recovery when Robert Lachowicz scored to cut the lead to 1 as the French were in shock as his effort went top shelf and GB were in the ascendency now with less than 9 min to play.

However Great British heart were broken when a mistake behind his goals by Stevie Lyle was jumped on by Brian Henderson who dispossessed him and played it out front to Charles Bertrand who scored to condemn Team GB to 2 straight losses and eliminated them from the tournament with 1 game left as the final score was 4-2.
———————————————————————————————————————–

 

GREAT BRITAIN   0   –  6   KAZAKHSTAN

The final game in the tournament for team Great Britain saw them take on the side 4 places above them in the World Rankings Kazakhstan. There was a change of starting goaltenders as Stevie Lyle was replaced by Hull Stingrays netminder and ex Sheffield Steeldogs young Ben Bowns for his debut on the world stage, Unfortunately it wasn`t the greatest debut for the shot stopper as he found out the difference in gulf between Club v International level very quickly.
As 30 seconds were on the board when Kazakhstan opened the scoring through Roman Starchenko as he took control of the puck from a pass on the blue line and quickly cut back and ripped one past Bowns for 1-0. The score very quickly became 2-0 for the Kazakhstan side as fast quick passing by the forwards passed in the slot to Konstantin Romanov who wristed one over the shoulder of Bowns for a early double at 2:30.
GB managed to gather their thoughts as they went into break 2-0 and had come out back in the 2nd to force a way back in it. Things though got off to a terrible start as Jonathon Philips & Rod Sarich was sat for ROUGHING & SLASHING respectively. It took all of 11 full seconds before Talgat Zhailaov scored on the 5 on 3 powerplay at 24:58.
At 28:22 It became 4-0 as Alexei Litvinenko scored to extend lead as a mistake by Rod Sarich pass was put the Kazakhstan forward who skated freely towards the puck and fired home
at 29:32. It soon became 5-0 as IIya Solarev got onto the end of a fast break down the left wing of GB and his effort was put passed Bown who had no chance.
PIC: bbc sports
GB fans then celebrated a long awaited penalty called against their opponents rather than them for the first time in the game. Those cheers were quickly died out as a pass up middle ice found  Viktor Alexandrov who slotted past Bowns for 6-0 and Great Britain were getting a true Hockey lesson from the side the face again in a couple of months in the World Championships in Hungary in April, And judging on this showing The Kazakhstan side will be extremely dangerous come that time.
3rd period Team Gb defense held firm and stopped any more goals being scored, Yet couldn`t muster one goal themselves. The 2 sides had a few heated exchanges as tempers flared but nothing going overboard.
So GB failed to win a game but the effort against team a step up should be applauded as they did well, without the prepareration of all the other sides in the build up. So next action for GB now is in April in Hungary for the World Championships.

BELLE VUE SIGN GP RIDER & GERMAN ACE



Matej Zagar   pic: speedwaytv




Belle Vue team building for the forthcoming 2013 season is starting to take shape for the men from Kirkmanshulme Lane, as the Aces have made 2 signings to leave one available spot open with Magnus ZORRO Zetterstrom tipped to be the final rider.

The Aces have swooped to sign Slovenian Champion & Returnee to the Speedway Grand Prix circuit this year Matej Zagar. The Slovenian is making a return to the British speedway scene as the last time he ridden in the Elite league it was with the Eastbourne Eagles back in 2010 where he had a disappointing season and subsequently left. During that time his form in Poland and other Major Speedway countries has been good leading to him qualifying for the Grand Prix series this season of which he has been out of for a few years, So with his form and thing working well for the 29 year old from Ljubljana, Hopefully the Manchester side will see the benefit of the rider this year.









pic: speedwaygp.com German International  Kevin Wolbert

The Second signing comes in the shape of German international Kevin Wolbert who himself shown first hand last season how much he likes the tight technical Belle Vue track as he scored 39 points in 3 meetings against the Aces scoring heavily in the 3 fixtures at Kirky lane. The German who was told by his parent club Edinburgh Monarchs that he wasn`t in their plans for the 2013 season and the only place available to him in Britain was Belle Vue and said in a recent “I`d love to ride for belle vue , as I love the track and hope I`m hoping the phone rings from the management there”.

The 2 signings will join signings Polish rider Artur Mroczka, Czech rider & Captain Ales Dryml, Finnish star Kauko Nieminen and rising British star Craig Cook making up 6 of 7 riders in the squad plus the “Doubling up” riders.  

 

SIX NATIONS: WIN IN DUBLIN KEEPS ENGLAND GRAND SLAM ON TRACK

IRELAND   6 – 12 ENGLAND

England became the only side to keep their unbeaten record in the Six Nations this year as they beat a spirited a Irish side in a rain affected game at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Both sides came into this game with a win under their belts after winning their first games against Wales & Scotland respectively. This game was described pregame as a Grand slam decider between the 2 nations.

The game didn`t live up to the the hype to be honest, As England dominated the first half with great play and also took full advantage of the handling errors by the Irish players as the rain driving down made the ball at times slippery and unplayable.

England won a penalty when Ireland was penalized for not moving away and Fly Half Owen Farrell carried on his great start to his young International career as he kicked the penalty to give the Away side a 3-0 lead.

Then a talking point in the game, Irish back Cian Healy stamped aggressively on Dan Cole ankle that was stuck out in a ruck, The stamp lead to emotions reaching boiling point as players got involved in pushing and shoving over the incident. Replays of the incident shows it was a vile stamp by Healy who has since been cited over the incident.

England got another penalty as Ireland were losing composure and getting frustrated. Farrell kicked the penalty over and extended the lead to 6-0 for England. To compound the misery for the Irish in the 1st half along with knock ons, They had to contend with their kicker Johnathon Sexton going off injured as he pulled his hamstring trying to kick the ball upfield, But overstretched and was replaced by Ronan O Gara.

Ireland did get a late penalty in the half before the break as O Gara kicked to make it a 3 point game and give Ireland a bit of hope as England were out working and punishing their mistakes.

Most would think England would try to push on and kill the game off, However the start of the Second half for Ireland looked a completely different side from the first.

 As they had the visitors rattled and England were starting to show signs of nerves as they too started knocking on and were being penned in their half by a resurgent Ireland side. The Irish had woken from their slumber and the roar from the crowd made the atmosphere electric as the men in Green shirts were taking over now.

PIC: bbc sports

Haskell for England was sin binned as he failed to move away and he was adjudged to have kicked the ball away, leading the French ref to send him to the Sin Bin for 10 mins,Despite his protests England were down to 14 men for a while.

Ireland then won a penalty which O Gara dispatched for 6-6 scoreline, For the man advantage Ireland never took the game to England. They quelled the Irish attacks & that helped England out as the chance to use the extra man never came.

 Owen Farrell then gave England the lead back as he kicked 2 more penalties to make it 12-6 in the Red Rose nation favour.

Ireland had a couple of chances but couldn`t breach the England defences and with time counting down, they drew a penalty on themselves and with England captain Robshaw telling him to kick at goal, Farrell told his captain to kick to touch to eat up time. And resulted in them winning the line out and kicking the ball out for a famous win and their first win since 2003 in Ireland.

England will hope the winning run continues as they face France who are in a hole at the min!

PIC: bbc sports

SIX NATIONS: Scotland thrash Italians & Wales give France les Bleus


SCOTLAND    34  –  10   ITALY


Scotland got their 1st Six-Nations victory in 2 years as the Scots beat Italy at Murrayfield as they moved to 3rd in the table. Scotland were a side on fire as they came out guns blazing and the hosts took the lead with a Penalty from the boot of Greig Laidlaw

Tim Visser got a try for Scotland and Laidlaw kicked the conversion for a 13-0 lead, Luciano Orquera kicked a penalty for the Italians to put them on the scoreboard for 13-3 as the half time whistle blew.

Second half saw Scotland go mad in the scoring as the Scots scored 2 tries in 3 mins, As firstly Matt Scott went over for a try after a quick lineout which was played across the middle of the pitch to Kiwi born-Maitland, Who drew the Italian defence towards him and offloading to Scott who ran into space and go over making it 20-3 with the conversion added.

Stuart Hogg then scored the try of the game as he intercepted a pass from Masi that looked like a would be try for Italy was switched round as Hogg dashed 80 metres to run it back for a try and make the score 27 with the added kick.

Scotland thought they had another try, But was ruled “No Try” by the video ref for a forward pass. Sean Lamont then got their 4th try as Lamont jumped on a ball that was loose as the Italians weren`t paying attention and he poked it forward picked it up and run it under the posts for another try as Scotland were running riot over the opponents.

PIC: bbc sports

The Azzuri did get a try late on as Alessandro Zanni got a pass from Parisse who picked it up from the base of the Scrum and Zanni barged over.

Overall a convincing win for Scotland as they hope to build on this victory against the Irish in a couple weeks time.

———————————————————————————————————————–

PIC: bbc sports
FRANCE    6 –  16   WALES

The evening game on Saturday saw a “War of Attrition” type game between the French  & Welsh in front of a huge crowd at the Parc des Princes in Paris. The teams weren`t just battling each other they were up against the pitch too.

The turf was atrocious as it was cutting up terribly and making the game very slow and killing the match due to the amount of scrums that collapsed & were moved across the pitch by the referee, as the pitch was having the biggest say as the play was constantly moved across due the players losing footing from the farcical nature of the grass there.

Many times groundsmen  came onto to the field making running repairs to badly damaged pitch, neither side could gain momentum as the pitch wasn`t helping as this game is always entertaining between the 2 sides. But this time is was far from a classic.

On the game, France took the lead through a penalty awarded after the Welsh scrum collapsed due to the conditions, The ref knew the conditions was bad for both sides however the Scrum collapsed and resulted in Frederic Michalak kicking the penalty over for a 3-0 advantage.

PIC: bbc sports

Leigh Halfpenny responded for Wales as he kicked a penalty from halfway to make it 3-3 and that’s how the score remained at half time.

Second Half both teams remained cagey and Leigh Halfpenny put the Welsh in front for 6-3. However Michalak drew the game level when Wales collapse in the scrum leading to him kicking the penalty over for 6-6.

Both teams were in the words of BBC Jonathon Davies “Not playing to win, but Playing more not to lose” which summed up the game fantastically. Then a moment of genius as the Welsh forwards drove the play switched left, Where Biggar chipped a little over the French defence and was collected by George North on the wing and did well to stay in field after a hit and get the try which put the Visitors ahead along with the conversion to make it 13-6.

Wales forced France into errors which led to them conceding a penalty late on which gave Wales the chance to close out the game and give them victory. Leigh Halfpenny then kicked just close to the the halfway line and as he stepped up to kick to it, His long strike at goal went between the uprights and made the Welsh contingent in Paris delirious with joy.

PIC: bbc sports

As the French struggled and couldn`t make any possession tell, the home fan let their voices heard especially come full time. As the final whistle was just about heard as the home fans in the Parc des Princes vented their anger & fury as they showed their displeasure as boos and whistles got louder and louder as Les Bleus were well & truly booed off the pitch.

Good news for the French is they don`t play in France and can avoid the wrath of their fans, However they next face unbeaten England at Twickenham next. The Welsh next face the Italians in Rome too.

GIANTS CRY WOLF!

pic: jack hinds

MANCHESTER GIANTS   75   –   88    WORCESTER  WOLVES

Last Friday night saw all the recent good work of the Manchester Giants come crashing down in front of a near full house at the Wright Robinson Sports College, As the Worcester Wolves put on a clinic of how to play defense & offense as they beat the Hometown team 88 – 75.

The early stages were looking like the game would be very close as the Giants led 13-6 as they were carrying on their great form they had been on in recent weeks. The Giants recent signing GB international Nick George was making some good plays for the home side as they looked to get out to a bit of a lead.

Worcester however wasn`t playing ball and they forced their way back into the game with some defensive lapses in the Giants defense as the Wolves were getting the rebounds and the men in Green & Purple weren`t rebounding as hard or wanting it more as in previous games it looked. As the Wolves were getting easy rebounds.

The Wolves were starting to make shots as they were making more space for themselves and pulling the their opponents out of position with good team play and screening. Their main threats in the side starting to step up a bit as Alex Owumi hit a 3 pointer to put the Wolves ahead after Callum Jones missed both his free throw attempts and with the giants having the last possession of the 1st quarter missed giving the visitors a 3 point lead at the end of the quarter.

Stefan Gill was starting to catch fire as he kept the home side ticking with three 3 pointers in a row as the Wolves were unable to stop him. But luckily for them they had 2 other players that stepped up for their side in Stanley Ocitti  & Lithuanian Arnas Kazlauskas , As both were were hitting baskets for fun as the Giants backed off and let the Worcester Wolves take over.

Manchester were making shots just not get the luck for them to go in as one seemed to go in then spin out which summed up their luck in front of the basket. The home side were huffing and puffing at the Wolves basket, but either they couldn`t find the net or the defense was stronger and struggled to beat them. As the half time horn sounded it was a 13 point lead for the Wolves and would need the home side to up their game if they wanted to over turn the deficit , as they go into the locker room with the score of 46-34 to the away side.

pic: jack hinds

Second half of the game started and saw the Wolves carrying on from where they were hitting the big baskets and breaking away for easy baskets. The home side launched a comeback as they had Worcester looking over their shoulders as the score was being pulled back, Yet once again the Giants ran into foul trouble as the visitors drew fouls off the home side.
But also there was many times that the Giants were fouled but was rarely called a foul which led to frustration amongst the fans & players.

Stefan Gill was one incident that wasn`t called when he put a shot up was tripped blatantly by a Wolves player got the basket but no foul came, Then they went up the other end and George ran up behind knocked the ball out of the Worcester play as he smack it out his hands and off the backboard but was called as a foul. Which had all connected with the Giants furious with the decision and the 2 free throws made. George himself had a foul drawn and it started to get a bit heated on the court as the frustration was clearly getting to the Giants now.

Manchester was making basic errors and was forgetting about defending & was going back to the old ways of not blocking and letting them shot the ball as the score ballooned at the end of the 3rd quarter with 72-46 in favour of the away side.

The Giants in the 4th tried to claw their way as they started to get the score moving but it was always going to be in a losing battle as the 2nd & 3rd quarter had killed off the Giants chances to be honest.

So as the seconds counted down the home side and crowd was silenced by a great team display by the Wolves.

Top Scorers:Manchester Giants – Nick George 18, Stefan Gill 12, Mike Bernard / Ben Eaves / David Watts 11
Worcester Wolves Alex Owumi 20, Stanley Ocitti 20, Arnas Kazlauskas 15