Manchester City showed what they are capable of doing as they thrashed Newcastle United 4-0 putting in a champions performance on at the Etihad stadium. City was looking to take some form into the Manchester Derby a week on Monday at old Trafford. And the recent form has been mixed if anything in the last few league games with defeats against Chelsea and a not very convincing win at Aston Villa, But have lost to Everton 2-0, drew 2-2 with Liverpool and also had that nightmare at St.Marys going down 3-1 where it was labelled the worst performance by Mancini men since he came to the club 3 seasons ago. A view shared by the Italian manager at City.

City before kickoff found themselves 18 points behind league leader Manchester United after their victory up in Wearside against Sunderland. So City was concentrating on keeping hold of second place in the table as their title challenge hopes for this season anyway ended a while ago, But have to make sure they finish in the top 3 places to avoid having to play a qualifying round for the champions league next season. Newcastle was the visitors to the Etihad and their form has been hit and misses since the January transfer but has done well in the Europa league but has struggled in the league over recent weeks.

City made 5 changes from the last game when they lost to Everton 2-0 before the International break, With Mancini picking the Championship winning back 4 with Joelon Lescott, Gael Clichy and the return after 2 months of Club Captain Vincent Kompany back from injury all returning to the side alongside City player of the season so far Pablo Zabeleta.  Sami Nasri and Yaya Toure also returned to the fold and the starting eleven for City put a Championship winning display against Newcastle.

City dominated play early on as Newcastle were playing quite defensively game but for all the possession they had the home side just couldn`t make room for a shot or was trying to walk the ball in at times. The City midfield took complete control as Silva and Nasri was making inroads on the Visitors making gaps and finding good passes, Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure were equally as effective providing the cover just in front of the defence. City hadn`t troubled the away side in the shooting ranks in the first part of the first half, Closest chance they had was when Nasri came under pressure by 2 Newcastle defenders and no support he managed to wriggle out of it and play a good cross into the penalty area which Dzeko had a shot saved by Elliott and as the ball fell to Barry he somehow managed to strike the ball miles over the bar. 

City had a free kick by Carlos Tevez which when over the bar and the referee was having a long chat to the Newcastle keeper Rob Elliott who was taking a lot of time to take dead balls. Edin Dzeko had a header that when wide of the goals from a Sami Nasri corner. Zabeleta then had a volley goes to the right as he couldn`t quite connect on it as well as he wanted to. The home side thought they had took the lead in the 38th minute when a ball was played into the penalty area and Zabaleta run to the ball as well as David Silva, Silva poked it home just ahead of the Argentinean defender but was flagged offside as Silva started in a offside position.

However for the Blues it didn`t take very long for the first goal of the game, as a Gael Clichy run down the wing and great cross into the danger area was put in by a sliding Carlos Tevez from six yards as he went sliding with a Newcastle defender in the 40th minute. This looked a different City side than the one seen all season, was a more focused and determined side than they have been all season and so wasn`t a shock when they extended their advantage, as a Sami Nasri pass to Silva was in between his feet got control of the ball and coolly slotted home passed Elliott for a 2-0 lead and brought an end to the first half.

Second half Newcastle came out strong in the early stages as they looked to try and catch them early, City were asleep for the opening 5 minutes as Newcastle enjoyed a purple patch of possession and good play. Danny Simpson put a cross into the box and Zabeleta cleared away and Newcastle were had a great chance to cut the lead in half when Yohan Cabaye had an effort and went just passed the post and the alarm bells were ringing out in the City team to wake up from the slow start they had made so far. Cabaye had another effort but that over the bar.

But the killer goal when in for home side as their first attack in the half produced a corner and from that resulting corner the ball was partially cleared away, Only as far Gareth Barry and his hit goal wards found Captain Vincent Kompany who with a little flick of the heel scored to make it 3-0 and City were in cruise control now and the goal seemed to break the Geordies spirit as they looked downtrodden after that goal. City looked fantastic from then on and played with fluidity and pace much like last season when they were crushing teams at home.

Cisse was causing a few problems within the City side as he was turning them inside and out at side as they could tackle him, but then a cheer went up as when the ball was played towards him he stood on the ball and fell to the ground bring a loud cheer and laughter at the incident. Kompany nearly got his second goal as another corner came in from Silva and the Belgian international could only just head over the bar. The Blues kept the great play going and Dzeko was like a new player second half as he was holding players off wriggling away from tackles and making good passes he was one of many players that were having a great game for the home team. In the 68th minute the score was 4-0 as a Yanga-Mbiwa clearance from Nasri cross came to the big Ivorian and he ran at the defenders beating 3 of them into the penalty area and shot at goal getting a little nick off James Perch studs which just caught out Elliott as he all he could do was palm it in the goals as the little touch took it away from him.

Kompany went off to a standing ovation from the home fans as he had good steady game at the heart of the blues defence alongside Lescott, There was gasp of horror from city fans when Silva seemed to go down on his own clutching his knee when trying to block a ball, Newcastle played on and a shot coming in by Dan Gosling went into the hands of Joe Hart as he comfortably save it as it rolled to him. City made their second substitution when Silva was brought off hoping his injury wasn`t bad and with an eye on the Manchester Derby next week. Scott Sinclair came on for the Spaniard and one of his first touches nearly produced a good finish, the winger picked up the ball outside the area quickly turned and had a curling shot looking to go in far corner but Elliott made a fantastic save to get a hand to it and turn it away.


The game was being played a friendly pace then as both teams when through the motions as was winding down to the final whistle, final whistle went and City reduce the massive gap on their neighbours and now have a chance to try and gain 3 points more on their cross city rivals a week on Monday in the Derby.
Mancini will hope his troop will have the same effort and desire for that clash as they did in this game , as if they play on this form then it won`t be the one sided affair that everyone expects at Old Trafford. 


Aces lose Home opener to Wolves




It was a case of new riders, same result for Belle Vue Aces on Good Friday. As the Kirkmanshulme outfit had their season opener against their nearest rival geographically the Wolverhampton Wolves, Wolves have been tipped by many pundits to finish bottom of the league this season as their squad isn`t as heavy hitting or powerful as past sides to don the Black and gold at Monmore Green. 

They still have very talented riders in the shape of Swedish superstar Freddie Lindgren and GB International Tai Woffinden amongst their ranks, Along with Polish rider Adam Skornicki the ex Ace has always had a tendency to have hot and cold meetings in his career. And along with the newly acquired asset from neighbours Coventry Bees in Ricky Wells they have some firepower among them. But even so the line-up Belle Vue had should have had enough to at least win the meeting in my opinion, as they are led by Slovenian International and GP star Matej Zagar and “Zorro” Magnus Zetterstrom. They have Rising British star Craig Cook and captain Ales Dryml who are very capable riders of scoring high points too; they also have in their ranks New German signing Kevin Wolbert and returnee Artur Mrockza who has struggled to find any points in their heartbreaking loss in a challenge match to the Birmingham Brummies last week losing 47-43.


So with a Good Friday bumper crowd in and the queue of cars trying to get in this was a chance for the Aces to show the crowd and newcomers to the sport that Belle Vue were going places in the league this year starting with Wolves. The start was delayed due to a massive crowd and crash on M6 towards Manchester so it was delayed by 30 minutes.

The teams came round on the parade lap to take the applause of the crowd as there were many that had travelled up from the Black Country to see their side try and gain early points in the league. The sun was beating down on the track and mixed with Wind made the track very dry and dusty as normal, but no blame attached to the track men who tend to it by watering the track and grading it making it look fantastic compared to the last match at Belle Vue where a massive hole turned up between the 1st & 2nd bend. The maintenance work on it was great by the track staff, so riders prepared to come on track the Yellow light flashed to signal the traditional 2 minute warning for the riders to get to tapes ready for the first race.

After a lot of excitement to seeing the new Aces take to the track this season, the First heat saw the battle of the Grand Prix riders as Belle Vue Matej Zagar made his home debut with fellow debutant Kevin Wolbert as they faced the Wolves pair of GP rider Freddie Lindgren and Ty Proctor. The Wolves pairing gated and held onto a 5-1 Heat win to give Wolves a perfect start to the meeting.

The Aces hit back in heat 3 when Magnus Zetterstrom and Craig Cook both made the gate and they rode into the sun in more ways than one and scored a big maximum 5-1 heat advantage to draw the scores level at 9-9.

Heat 6 saw the Wolves regained the lead again as the Lindgren brothers got a 4-2 heat win as Older brother Freddie got the better of Matej Zagar and his brother Ludwig held third place holding off Kevin Wolbert to give Wolverhampton a 2 point advantage, that was increased to 4 points when American rider Ricky Wells capitalised on a mistake by Aces captain Ales Dryml who went to wide and allowed Wells to get round the Aces captain and win the heat. Belle Vue 2nd heat header Artur Mrockza was carrying on from his Nightmare in Birmingham as after he was gifted his point in Heat 4, the Polish rider looked slow under powered and plain awful trailing at the back and the score was 23-19 in favour of the guests after heat 7.

Belle Vue responded with 3 heat wins in a row as first off Wolbert made a rocket from the gate and his team mate Richie Worrall who has recently been signed as an Asset for the club this week helped his partner out as Wolbert took off and Worrall made sure he guided him round as he did great to lead them to a 5-1 heat win and equal the scores up at 24 apiece.  The following heat number 9 saw Zorro & Craig Cook gate ahead of the Lindgren brothers and went onto hold position until a mistake by Cook let Freddie up the inside on bend 2, However Cook on his determination to regain 2nd place lost speed on the following lap and so settled for 3rd spot and the Aces took the lead for the first time in the whole meeting leading 28-26 after Heat 9.

Matej Zagar was improving as the meeting went on and in heat 10 the Slovenian made a great start but was caught up on 1st & 2nd bends by Wells and Skornicki, But he kept the throttle on just got the better of Wells and the next lap as the riders disappeared into a dust cloud Wolbert took Skornicki and gave the Aces a 32-28 lead, and the Home side looked to be taking the meeting away from the visitors. However heat 11 Wolves strong pairing of Tai Woffinden and Ty Proctor drawn scores level yet again as they beat the poorest Pairing for Belle Vue of Mrockza and Dryml by scoring a 5-1 to set up a tense final 4 set of races.

Heat 13 in many eyes as the heat got nearer was the killer heat for the Home side as neither of Aces riders were in form or looked likely to beat the on form pair of Woffinden and Freddie Lindgren so as predicted Artur Mrockza had the race of the meeting as he shot out from the tapes and never looked back as the Wolves pairing had no answer for the Pole who won it comfortably in the end leaving his opponents eating his dust, Sadly Zagar couldn`t repeat his previous heat performance and trailed off at the back. As Mrockza came round to take the applause of the home fans he punched the air in delight and was like he had won the world title with his celebrations. 


Scores were still tied heading into the penultimate heat 14 as the score was 39 – 39, Cook missed the gate and Ales Dryml couldn`t catch Ludwig Lindgren as the Wolves took a 4-2 heat win and led by 2 going into the final race of the meeting. As Belle Vue needed a heat advantage to avoid losing the opening meeting anything else would result in a defeat so as the lines up were announced the riders made their way to the tapes. Wolves had the strongest pair out in Woffinden & Fredrik Lindgren and Aces team Manager chose Matej Zagar and Magnus Zetterstrom to be the riders to go out and win the meeting for the home side and kick-start that season.

Sadly The Aces didn`t manage to pull off a heat advantage as Zetterstrom was passed entering the 3rd lap by Woffinden who was fantastic all meeting for the away side, Wolverhampton took the final heat with a 4-2 and won the meeting 47-43 inflicting defeat and the Aces are still awaiting their first win of 2013 as they will need to sharpen up their gating skills by next Tuesday when the return is raced at Wolves Monmore Green Stadium in front of the Sky TV cameras.



BELLE VUE: Magnus Zetterstrom 13 , Richie Worrall 6+1 , Matej Zagar 6 , Ales Dryml 5+1 , Artur Mroczka 5+1 , Craig Cook 4+1 , Kevin Wolbert 4

WOLVES: Tai Woffinden 13+1 , Fredrik Lindgren 10+1 , Ludvig Lindgren 8+1 , Ricky Wells 7 , Ty Proctor 6+1 , Adam Skornicki 3 , Jacob Thorsell 0

SPEEDWAY TODAY viewed by a fan

Well it`s that time of year again as the British Elite League Speedway revs up for a new season as we head into the 16th Elite season since the formation of the Elite League from the old British League championship. This season has already come under controversy as it’s the first time there will be only 1 trophy up for grabs as Promoters ridiculously decided on scrapping the prestigious Knockout Cup as some sides weren`t bothered or thought it was waste of time, But the fans however see it as the Speedway s answer to the FA CUP.

The most passionate supporter of Speedway will tell you it`s going to be one the best seasons ever and exciting all this year and unmissable and all the other usual propaganda spewed out towards the masses and also towards the people who haven`t seen the sport to entice them into it and watch it at their local track and help their club out with the fans coming through the turnstiles. However if you’re a harden speedway fan and know the sport and how it is run and has been for many, many years then you know this season will be like any other season has been for the last 13 years or so.

The early days of the Elite League was thought of as the one of the best leagues in the world arguably the Best in the world back in 1997 at its beginnings, As the riders you had then were well known to the Speedway fanatics such as: Gary Havelock, Joe Screen, Jason Lyons, Sam Ermolenko, Mikael & Peter Karlsson, Ryan Sullivan, Martin Dugard, Chris Louis, Craig Boyce, Greg Hancock, Leigh Adams and Hans Nielsen. These were fantastic riders that were worth paying money to see then as the years went on younger riders that came up from the Premier league and from aboard made the Elite League so watchable. World championship riders from the Grand Prix coming to England to race with the likes of Tomasz Gollob, Tony Rickardsson, Jason Crump, Nicki Pedersen and British youngsters to in Scott Nicholls and the Late Lee Richardson as well.

Arguably the decline in top riders coming to the UK nowadays is that Poland pays big and I mean BIG MONEY for riders in their Extrasliga as riders get paid 3 or 4x more in Poland than they do in England and as there are 4 leagues in Europe in which a majority of the riders ride in all 4 of the leagues (Polish, Swedish, British and Danish leagues) riders now pick and choose whether they want to be jet setting around Europe for possibly 8 months in rare cases. Poland nowadays is considered the best league in the world due to having nearly EVERY Grand Prix rider in that league and get sell out crowds and is a kin to football as the fans are extremely passionate too there.
Sweden is looked at as the 2nd best as they have lot of the Grand Prix riders in their sides too as both Sweden and Poland have a 1 or 2 Foreign rider rule in place, Which means every side is allowed to have more than 2 foreign riders ( not being from Poland or Sweden ) in their sides. But teams have found way round it riding on a Polish or Swedish licence meaning they can cut corners, But the racing in both is fantastic. Denmark is the arguably 3rd or 4th choice league depending on your preference; they have very young sides in that league and not many riders from outside of Denmark. I`ll be honest it`s very hard to find places that show the Danish league but from clips from the internet the racing is good there too.
Britain is looked upon as a “has-been” league to the rest of the Europe, As what was once looked at as league to copy and follow in the footsteps of as these other leagues caught up and then re- invented themselves and turned their sides competitions and brand of speedway into must watch TV in their own countries. In the UK however the current board of speedway or BSPA (British speedway promoters association) lacks any forward thinking and is massively behind the times in ideas or promoting the sport and trying to bring it as close as they can back to its heyday like in the 70`s when places like Perry Barr at Birmingham, Plough Lane at Wimbledon, Blackbird road in Leicester and of course nearer to home the Legendary Hyde Road stadium at Belle Vue. These were all full up stadiums with riders entertaining the fans with great racing riders like: Peter Collins, Malcolm Simmonds, Chris Morton, Kenny Carter, Ole Olsen, Barry Briggs, Ivan Mauger, Dave Jessop, Ove Fundin, Erik Gundersen, Martin Ashby and Bruce Penhall.

Today British league still has riders that can captivate an audience but the league is very very stale and the powers that be have ruined the sport with certain decisions they`ve made along with promoters that have at times turned the matches you watch on sky television into their own mini reality show as they want to be on camera constantly. Compare our coverage to Polish and Swedish league, it`s all fluid and the commentators only go mad when a really truly fabulous pass happens and they are mainly reserved. Sky coverage the commentary side is appalling, 2 commentators shouting at the top of their voice as one makes a mistake and the other passes him weakly “FAN-TAS-TIC RIDE!!!!!” no it isn`t it`s a mistake capitalised on.  
Week upon week we have the same terrible sayings thrown out every week, and the live games on TV you can guarantee who is on the most. The other 3 leagues have a variety of match ups and you never seen the same side 3 within weeks. British coverage is mainly Poole v Coventry, Coventry v Poole, Wolves v Coventry, Wolves v Poole always the same 3 sides on constantly and were forced to watch tracks where there is hardly any passing and SKY will talk it up and say great meeting again. And you have to shake your head in disbelief at some things. And of course they bring the old chestnut out when they venture to Manchester every time.  “Overcast, gloomy, dull, rainy” or not used to sunshine in these parts!  This coming from one presenter who is from Birmingham and statically gets more rain than Manchester. 
And when Belle Vue was only match on due to Birmingham or Wolves called off for waterlogged tracks they came to Manchester when it was sunshine and had to have a dig at the only Northern club in the league passed the M6 “It`s not raining for once”. These are supposed to be professional presenters yet they are as bad as the people who run the sport. As the BSPA who run the sport have been accused by many fans of not growing the sports but only looking after their clubs best interests as the 2 main leagues in Britain. Elite & Premier are run by 3 people each within their own leagues. Edinburgh Monarchs promoter is the head of the Premier league and they have won the title in recent years, and if that’s not coincidence the ELITE is run by Poole Pirates Promoter and they have won the title nearly every season since he took charge. 

A lot of rules bend has gone on with manipulating the rules and riders getting certain treatment so they can move and also the riders have been accused of not trying hard enough so they can ride for certain teams the next season or get sacked and then move to the team they want to go the most. Why fans are driven away from the once proud sport to always replicating the scandal with the “Italian football scores” in 2006.
Fans have been crying out for ex riders or an independent body to come in and shake things up. But the current bunch that preside over this association said publicly “There was no need for chance as British speedway was doing in a great state”…yes a GREAT terrible state. Fans on the terraces I’ve spoke with have all no trust in the people who run the sport and call them certain names that isn`t broadcast able. But the fans are expected to thing everything is rosy and it certainly isn`t at all. 
So we are currently watching a sport that in its current state dying a slow painful death with people who aren`t seeing the bigger picture, as there is no facilities or motivation for youngsters coming up to get involved in speedway and a National program that is massively behind the main speedway nations and with the rising newcomers from Russia gathering speed then Britain will soon find themselves falling to the way side. But as were told “the future in Britain is in great hands” whose hands are these as they not showing any signs of progression in youth development or international status. Great Britain has been thrashed in Under 21 tournaments and in Individual meetings they hardly score as they have no experience or people to guide them.
Changes for the best would be a Independent body to guard over dodgy ground and also limit the amount of Foreign riders in the league or up the level of British riders to 3 in a side so they gain experience by facing better riders and get a chance at the top level instead of 3 matches and never used again and bring a rider from aboard to take the place of a rider that could be given to a home-grown one.



Sunday evening saw the final regular season game of the season in the English Premier League this season at the Altrincham ice dome, As the Manchester Phoenix played hosts to the Bottom of the table Telford Tigers but a lately resurgent Telford Tigers as they hadn`t lost in 3 games to any team and was their best form in the EPL since they came back last year into the league.  As they beat Bracknell 5-2 Saturday and Peterborough 8-4 the previous week along with the unbelievable massacre of Phoenix 8-2 the previous weekend.

Manchester had the extra day`s rest as they played on the Friday night at Ice Sheffield against the Sheffield Steeldogs winning eventually after overtime 7-6, This despite throwing away another 4 goal lead once again this season. Phoenix were 6-2 up with 10 minutes to go when they fell apart and conceded 4 goals to go into Overtime and luckily Tom Duggan who was Man of the Match scored his 5th goal of the night to give Manchester the extra point.

So heading into the Sunday clash it was expected to be a bit of meaningless match with neither fighting for anything in the way of qualifying for playoffs as Manchester consolidated their 3rd place spot in Sheffield Friday night nor sadly for Telford they were out of the running a while ago to be fair. As Manchester were hoping for no injuries being picked up before the Playoff quarter finals next Sunday which they were waiting on confirmation on who the Phoenix would be facing due to it being either the Swindon Wildcats or the Bracknell Bees depending on results that evening.

Phoenix drafted in 3 of the Trafford Metros for the game as they were missing forward James Archer who was ill and Czech defenseman Ondrej Pozivil who is struggling with an injury he picked up against Telford last Saturday. So in came Lee Pollitt, Cade King & Jared Dickinson for the Phoenix and Telford team change was Macaulay Heywood coming into the side for the Tigers.
 So as the teams entered the ice for the least league game of the season Joy Tottman took charge with Jan Posladek and Kris Wells on the lines, The game started with both sides putting some big hits on one another and was like a playoff type game with the feriouous checking in the plexi glass, Especially from the Orangemen from Shropshire.  Phoenix responded with their own hard hitting and also found the opening goal as Play from the first line consisting of Joachim Flaten and Tony Hand fell to Michal Psurny who scored his 41st goal of the season beating the Tigers net minder Declan Ryan in the process at 4-01 to put the Phoenix up 1-0.
The game became a scrappy affair with Telford then picking up by frustrating the Phoenix fast flowing style and Telford had a few chances as they tested the returning Steve Fone to the Phoenix nets. He made a couple of good pad saves from the Tigers forwards and wasn`t showing any hints of rust in his play so far.
A penalty was then called by Tottman on Telford number 14 Tomas Janak for INTERFERENCE timed 7-44 and put Manchester on the power play.  The power play can be best being described as atrocious as they had one effort on target as most of it was spent in the Phoenix zone retrieving the puck.  One big area for Phoenix has been the power play as they have never looked likely to score on it all season due to the way the set up. So no surprise that Telford killed it off and went back to full strength
Manchester had a couple of efforts but nothing that was too troubling to be honest for Ryan in the period, A lot of sloppiness by both sides made the game largely a scrappy period as both teams were making the game more exciting by the big hit going round the first 20 minutes. 

We had one occasion where the physical stuff was getting to the peak and James Preece from Telford and Rob Schnabel from Phoenix were pushing and having some heated words by the boards in the Phoenix end. Telford did get on the scoreboard as Phoenix sloppy play combined with good pressure by the Telford side brought a goal, Phoenix thought they had cleared their lines only for the puck to somehow managed to go in from Telford 79 Thomas Soar and the large contingent of Travelling Telford fans in the Orange end of the rink was partying as they saw their side level the game up at 1-1 at 14-02.
The horn sounded for the end of the first 20 minutes as both teams headed to the locker room with Telford arguably the happier of the 2 sides, as they were frustrating the home side from pulling away and getting a fair few chances.

2ND PERIOD the period was dominated by Manchester as they upped their game a lot than they did in the first stanza. Manchester was troubling the Telford defence as they seemed like they were camped in their zone a lot in the majority of the second. Telford were still in the game but the checking wasn`t as hard hitting in the period as it seemed in the first and that was one reason why Phoenix was taking over. Manchester have been in recent times struggling with physical sides and one reason why Telford was successful over a week back against Manchester was the physical play they were putting on the Altrincham based side. So once the hard play was decreasing so was the game play they were using as Manchester threw off the shackles and was free and playing good flowing hockey again.

Chances was being made and seemed only a matter of time before Phoenix scored to regain the lead and it did, As Ex-Telford Tigers player Andy McKinney and Richard Bentham did good work as Declan Ryan had been pulled out of position Bentham fired at Ryan and looked a dead certainty to go in but a fantastic save by the Tigers goal tender stopped it but only as far as the incoming Trafford Mets player Jared Dickinson coming in to poach the rebound home and make it 2-1 and give the home side back the lead at 27-44.
Telford almost replied instantly as a Telford player skated behind the net found Ex-Phoenix Scott McKenzie and his effort struck the bar and Phoenix were left off as it had Fone beat the shot. But to rub it in for Telford Michal Psurny scored his second goal of the game to extend the lead to 3-1 as again the first line produced again with Flaten finding Hand and his pass to Psurny let the Czech forward skill handled quickly to slide it home near post for his 42nd of the season and looked to have took the game away from Telford goal coming at 30-05.
Then Phoenix looked to have killed the game off with a 4th goal with Bari McKenzie behind the net battling  away Tom Duggan picking it up passing it in the slot to Liam Chong and his up it in for 4-1 at 31-27 to give Phoenix what looked like the 2 points and would carry on their winning form to next weekend as Telford heads were dropping and so Tigers Coach Tom Watkins took a time out and the Tigers did respond but Manchester were in complete control of the rest of the period as Tigers were down and out and Phoenix look all but in control of the game now as the horn for the end of the period. As if the first period Telford were happy with going in to the break with then Manchester were cock a hoop in the 2nd break.
3RD PERIOD    saw an absolutely shocking opening 3 minutes and one that will give nightmares to the Manchester side. Telford came out for the final period looking like a beaten side and one playing just for pride and so as the puck was dropped the first chance Telford had they took, As James Preece dispossessed Schnabel by the boards he played forward towards Callum Bowley and as he skated in the Phoenix zone he passed across to Thomas Soar again and he dispatched him the pass to cut the deficit to 2 and give the Tigers some hope for the remaining 18 minutes and 52 seconds of the final period as the scored at 41-08.
Then things got interesting even more when 8 seconds after the restart Phoenix won the face off played back to Manchester Phoenix captain Luke Boothroyd and a lapse of concentration by the normally reliable captain  , His pass went across ice straight to Bowley and he passed back across to Preece and he finished it off to send the Telford fans crazy in the corner as their hopes of getting something out of the game was rapidly growing as it was Telford in the ascendancy and Phoenix looking shocked and lost on the ice and had lost all train of thought now. The Tigers 3rd goal was timed at 41-16 and Phoenix should have taken a timeout to calm the troops as they were visibly mentally all over the place.
Play carried on and 31 seconds later Telford completed a remarkable recovery as Phoenix were all at sea with their defensive exploits and looked lost with them chasing shadows as panic set in. As Luke Brittle started the play off Scott McKenzie collected the puck in his own zone. The Scot then skated hard down the left wing cut across towards goal lost control of the puck as it headed across the Phoenix crease, bodies all strewn across the front of the Phoenix nets. The puck came to Tigers number 44 their latest import recruitment Tomas Karpov and he put it high up for a 4-4 score line and sent the Telford Tigers fans delirious and a seas of Orange and black was waving around as they couldn`t believe the Unbelievable score line and what they were witnessing and to be honest no one else inside the rink could either.
As it was complete and utter silence in the dome as the Tigers fans celebrated their 4th as Manchester were players and fan were at a loss as what was happening in front of them. Telford took over the game as every attack by the Tigers seemed like it was going to threaten a goal when they skated up into the Phoenix zone.
Phoenix took a while to regain composure as they were being outplayed by Telford and the travelling fans loved it. Fone was keeping Phoenix in it still with some good saves and the Phoenix was grateful that his head was still focused, despite what was happening around him.

Daniel Croft then got sent to the box for 2 minutes for SLASHING at 48-57 and put the Phoenix back on the power play and they need now than ever to try and get the PP working as they had looked awful in their first attempt. Second power play was marginally better as they managed to get a half chance and a Schnabel shot that was easily dealt with by Ryan. Phoenix then had Rob Schnabel go for TRIPPING at 54-57 as he sent a Tigers player sliding across mid ice when in no danger and while on a Penalty Kill, Ben Wood was sent for SLASHING at 56-15 giving Tigers a 5-on-3 Power play,

Thankfully for home side they killed it off and the game was getting stretched a bit now as both sides had chances and were pushing to win it in regulation. So as we entertained the final 2 minutes of the game a puck was knocked into the Phoenix zone and Steve Fone skated out to play the puck but before he could reach it Danny Rose stretched out to poke the puck and the puck finished up in the nets as the Phoenix defenseman couldn`t stop it in time as the red light lit assists going to Luke Brittle and James Preece to help Telford completed one of the most Incredible Comebacks seen at the Ice dome for many years. Phoenix took a timeout at 58:25 to gather thoughts though it should have been called during the early period blitz by the Tigers.

But there was still more drama to come as with Manchester pushing on for the tying goal, puck was thrown up ice towards Scott McKenzie and as he beared down on the Phoenix nets he had Bari McKenzie and Luke Boothroyd on his tail and was hooked down leading to Joy Tottman signalling for a Penalty shot to be awarded. So McKenzie himself took it to the home fans trying to put him off but his effort couldn`t beat Fone as he denied him. Right at the end of the game Phoenix pushed on and a shot went flashing across the crease and there was no white shirt to put home, and then Tony Hand skated round the net and tried to the no look shot and it stopped by Ryan and Telford held on for a famous win and their first ever win at the Ice dome.



Manchester Phoenix :    Steve Fone  22 Shots  Save percentage 77.27% 

Telford Tigers:    Declan Ryan 33 Shots  Save percentage 87.88% 

Penalty Minutes: 

Manchester:  4 PIM  , TELFORD:   4 PIM 


W/E  March 31st & April 1st Teams on LEFT have First leg: 

Peterborough Phantoms v Guildford Flames

 Swindon Wildcats v Basingstoke Bison

Bracknell Bees v Manchester Phoenix  

Slough Jets v Milton Keynes Lightning


WALES   30  –  3   ENGLAND 

In what should have been a real spectacle and climax to the RBS 6 Nations championship with the title decider at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium, It turned into a complete and utter nightmare for the men in St George colours. As the Welsh Dragons completely outclassed a very poor English side on all sides of the game. Whether it was Scrums, runs, set plays or kicking Wales had all the answers as they massacred England by 30-3. Comments before the kick off abound were  “Are England really that good and the Italian performance was a one off?” Are they the real deal? “. All questions were set to be answered in an 80 minutes nightmare infront of a packed out emotional Millennium Stadium.

Pregame gave the players a taste of what was to come as “Bread of Heaven” was bellowed out by the Welsh fans as the players went through their warm up and the noise was deafening inside the stadium and more so with the roof closed and made the atmosphere even more louder as it reverberated. The game was by many would England try to defend the 6 point different they held over their rival or go for it.

So as the players headed off the noise was building and the anticipation to the clash was growing by the minute. Time grew nearer t game time and as England came out into the cauldron of Welsh fans and were greeted to a warm reception. But then Wales came out to one of the loudest roars in International rugby as the pyrotechnics and smoke welcomed the Welsh side onto the pitch.  The National Anthem was sung both with gusto and emotion by both sides, though the Welsh anthem “Land of my Fathers” was sung more loudly than ever before and with people in the crowd crying to, everyone was emotional.

New Zealander Steve Walsh was the Referee for this big clash, It became apparent that Wales were far more up for this game than England seemed to be as the defence was solid all game for Wales as England were struggling to make much if any head way in the Wales half. England had to weather a lot of continued pressure by the Welsh, Eventually England were penalised for Not rolling away and up stepped Leigh Halfpenny to boot it over for an early 3-0 lead the hosts.

 A penalty on Dan Cole for not rolling away resulted in Mike Philips taking a quick tap and running through a static English defence as Tom Croft managed to stop the run and Wales ploughed on. Biggar got the pass and when he tried to pass left the balls slipped out going backwards as Barritt jumped on the loose ball as England gained possession back. England then found a gap as the forward spread play to the left wing Tuiliangui passed to Mike Brown and tried to pass his way out of trouble with no White shirts in support of him and threw in Welsh hands and they kicked deep into England half.

England gave away yet another penalty inside their half as they were penalised at the breakdown, so ref Steve Walsh blew, giving Wales or Halfpenny at least a chance to extend the lead and pull back the points difference. Halfpenny kick from 45 metres went over and Wales led 6-0 after 18 minutes.
The visitors then won a penalty of their own as Sam Warburton was guilty of hands in the ruck and gave Owen Farrell the chance to cut the lead in half. His kick just went over with help of the post to knock it get over the crossbar.

Wales were so dominant in all aspect especially the scrum as they turned England and gained a penalty with Halfpenny yet again converting for a 9-3 lead and Wales had confidence oozing all over as England were in danger of being embarrassed as they were at sixes and sevens and giving away penalties in good areas.
Wales then conceded a penalty straight away and Farrell kicked to reduce lead but his kick went wide and so missed a glorious chance to bring the score lines closer.
England started to get a bit of a foothold in the game for the first time as they started to make some progress but were still being snuffed out by the men in red.

Both sides had spells mini passages of play and right on the stroke of Half time Biggar tried a drop goal attempt and just went the wrong side of the posts as Wales headed into the break up by 6 points 2 points shy of the winning margin on points difference.

Second half started with Wales getting a put in to the scrum and yet again dominated the English pack as the forwards collapsed and was being a massive problem and over concern for the Stuart Lancaster and his side. Phillips & Tipuric both made breaks for the welsh as they made yards and was eventually stopped by the white shirts. England found themselves on the end of another advantage for the Welsh as they were still giving away stupid penalties to the home side.  Leigh Halfpenny does what Leigh Halfpenny does best and that kick the points necessary for his side as they got out to a 12-3 lead and were now in Championship winning territory being 9 points up and 2 ahead.

England made changes to try and find any weakness in the Welsh armour as Wales was having everything go their way. Decisions going in favour of Wales and England making mistakes was leading to their downfall, and things got worse for the English as a quick break by the Welsh on the England left, Had the English in trouble as they were outnumbered by red shirts as Jonathon Davies pass to Alex Cuthbert was taken and as he run off the tackle of Mike Brown the Millennium stadium erupted in joy for the home side as they were now had one hand on the Six Nations trophy and England heads were starting to drop as well. Halfpenny missed the conversion but he was having a great game for Wales and so could be let off this once.

Owen Farrell then missed another penalty for England and it seemed the occasion had caught up to the English players, As while the England players were like rabbits in the headlights with the atmosphere and the play their opponents were producing. Wales on the other hand were playing great rugby and had certainly used the occasion as motivation as they asked England questions and had no answers to the men from the valleys. Biggar then knocked over a drop goal to make it 20-3 and this was becoming a rout now against the English and was bordering on embarrassing for the Lancaster and his troops.

They lack all motivation and a leader on the pitch as they fell apart and Wales rubbed salt in the wounds even more making it more painful for the England faithful, As Warburton cut through the English defence and was brought down halfway in the England half, Fast passing outlet came as they sprayed the ball out to the right and found Halfpenny,  His pass found Tipuric with Cuthbert in support and as he dummy passed he made space before offloading to the supporting Alex Cuthbert and Wales and the fans were in dreamland as they scored another try and Cuthbert`s 2nd of the game and the champagne was already flowing as they dismantled England with fantastic team play and was giving them a royal beating.

England were downtrodden by the Welsh as they out muscled, out thought and out played the English and were far more clinical in all play. Defence wise they were magnificent and hardly gave England a sniff of a try. England were penalised again going in at the side and gave Dan Biggar the chance to kick the penalty and he duly obliged as his kick sailed over the bar and 3 more points added to the Wales score, Making it 30-3 and a demolition of the Pre tournament favourites.
England then had a mini spell where they finally reached near to the Wales try line and was pushing the Welsh defence hard for the first time all game, Only for Danny Care to try and dink a kick to corner but his kick went right out of play and summed up how England was in the game AWFUL!

England had the ball and were on the attack only for them knock on and feel just got worse for England as they lacked confidence and belief going forwards and didn`t look like a team that could score. The final 5 minutes Wales were pushing for more points and every attack looked menacing from the Welsh, Onwards they tried and all England could do was containing the Wales forwards.
Wales then kicked a ball into the England half and Captain Robshaw knocked on as he tried to grab it but knocked on and then kicked it down field in pure and utter frustration as the England Skipper and team mates on this day, it wasn`t be their day.

So as Steve Walsh blew for the full time whistle, Wales who came into the Six Nations on the back of 9 successive losses having last beat the Barbarians back in June 2012, They were crown the 2013 Six Nations Champions and the joy and jubilation was there for all to see as the Valleys were alive with the sounds of Victory & made especially sweeter for a any Welsh fan that they beat their enemy to not only clinch the title but to stop pinch it right at the end when it seemed that all along that England were going to cruise to the title. But credit to Wales they dug in deep and battled hard and grounded out wins and went to another gear when they had to barring the Ireland game.

Worthy winners overall and a lot of Welsh players hope to have booked their place on the flight to Australia for the Lions tour in the summer with British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland certainly pleased that his side under the tutelage of his Assistant Rob Howley winning the Championship for his side.


Phoenix send Sheffield packing to the DOGHOUSE!


Well… after the Nightmare of going down 8-2 to the Bottom placed Telford Tigers Saturday evening. All thoughts switched to the Northern Derby or War of the Roses clash whatever you prefer. The White Rose of Yorkshire team Sheffield Steeldogs against the Red Rose County of Lancashire and Manchester Phoenix!  Sheffield shocked the Double league winning Guildford Flames in the Champions barn winning 2-1 down there and so as we headed into the derby clash Sheffield had their tails up and Phoenix seemed like a side in disarray from the Telford thrashing.

So as we got set for the game and with both sides missing two Import players each, Arguably Phoenix was missing the two most influential players, In Top Scorer Michal Psurny and Defenseman Ondrej Pozivil missing for the home side which left Manchester short benched more than Sheffield had. The officials were Referee Tom Pering (…more on him as we go…) Linesmen Leigh Hetherington and Kris Wells.

1ST Period

Not too much in the way of hockey to speak off really as it was like a typical derby game or Playoff type game with both sides going at it hard, But Phoenix losing composure and Sheffield playing their normal chippy, chippy straying over the line play they use in games. But as frustrating and annoying as the tactic is, it has certainly worked for Andre Payette men over the last few years. Play was very scrappy as it was all very messy indeed between the 2 sides but incident packed.

First scrum of the game came when Steeldogs was in the Phoenix zone and a shot was saved by Jaszczyk and he frozen play for a whistle, Till Steeldogs player Greg Wood a good 4 seconds after play was froze mindlessly skated into the net minder on purpose and so players all got into a heated moment as tempers were flaring up between the 2 bitter rivals. Shockingly Ref Pering didn`t call anything and so play restarted to the bemusement of Phoenix players and fans alike.
Then moments another shot was caught by the young net minder as he gloved it for a whistle and Wood skated hard and sprayed Ice all over the net minder and more pushing and shoving but yet again no calls were made. Phoenix had a couple of attempts as Andy McKinney went close as his effort struck the post and Liam Chong was unable to get the puck for a rebound as Sheffield cleared their lines.

James Archer went close but can`t reach the puck after Tom Duggan backhands puck towards him.
The first penalties of the game came as the puck was along the boards in the corner and as Richie Bentham was hit hard from behind from Greg Wood the Referee decided to call something finally, And Bentham took exception and he went to get to Wood as both sides piled in by the plexi glass and with Big Schnabel being held by 3 Steeldogs players as Ben Morgan had a glove in Bentham face and then in Schnabel as he was “Staple gunned” to the boards.

After all the penalties were dished out the resulting calls were for Sheffield: Greg Wood was given 2 minutes for CROSS CHECKS and Ben Morgan was given ROUGHING & on the Manchester side was Richard Bentham & Rob Schnabel all getting 2 minutes each at 4-26. Luke Boothroyd was then called for HOOKING at 4-46. The resulting power play wasn`t that great by Steeldogs as they made no headway as shots were fired over the nets and missing by a distance. Phoenix had a couple more chances but their shots as well were going wide.

Then we had another coming together in front of the nets as play was whistled a Phoenix stopped by net minder Sheffield player pushed him on top but the Manchester player stayed upright, Both sets of players came in Steve Duncombe was trying to irritate any Phoenix player into a penalty, Schnabel then entered the fray and gave a face wash to Duncombe and Schnabel called him out as Duncombe was doing everything behind the players back. So when the same was done to him big Rob Challenged him as he was British and Schnabel an Import it helped Sheffield taking another import to the penalty box and so they both dropped the gloves.

Schnabel kept drawing him in but Duncombe was shying away and not backing up what he was doing, so when they did grapple Duncombe tried desperately to grab him down to the ice and avoid being punched and Schnabel was trying to throw and keep him from going to the ice quickly. But the Phoenix player just pushed him down and lay on him and both went to their penalty boxes, both getting the standard 2+2 for ROUGHING at 10-27. Wasn`t really much of one to be honest.

Sheffield had a spell of good pressure where they were in the Phoenix zone but most of the shots were blocked by a stern defence or they went wide of the nets as they couldn`t capitalise on any offensive play they posed. Player coach Tony Hand then picked up a 10 Minute MISCONDUCT penalty for shouting at the ref over the constant running the goalie over by Wood for the 4th time, that penalty was timed at 18-15.

Sheffield thwarted much of the hockey with constant needless roughing and dirty play to be honest, But as annoying as it was it worked especially as they took the lead through a Edgars Berbris goal as he backhanded his shot over the shoulder of Jaszczyk in the Phoenix nets and gave them a 1-0 lead at 19-02, Assist going to Lee Haywood.


Phoenix came out and looked a different side from first not responding to the constant cheap shots that was being dished out by the Visiting team. Phoenix tied the game early in the period as a breakout by Phoenix from Joachim Flaten played it to the left wing to Andy McKinney and had Liam Chong up in support and passed it on to the tape and his slap shot beat Dalibor Sedlar in Steeldogs goals for a 1-1 game at 21-27. 

Then came a complete joke decision by the 2 officials, namely Lineswoman Leigh Hetherington & Referee Tom Pering. The incident came at 21-46 when after play was frozen, Players were heading to the bench when Lee Haywood of the Sheffield Steeldogs skated slowly in front of him on purpose then was side by to which he Butt Ended McKinney in the body and tried to trip him up, McKinney reacted by trying to trip him back up as he lifted the Steeldogs leg up and he nearly fell as he didn`t expect it to be given back.

Heywood cried wolf to the female lineswoman and Rob Schnabel just looked on chuckling at him being made to look a bit stupid. She then had a word with the referee, so those watching expected both men to get 2 minutes each for delay of game. However shock around the Ice Dome as booing went around the rink as McKinney was sent to the changing rooms as he was adjudged to have “Kicked” the Sheffield player and so the Manchester player was given 5+Match and hopefully the decision will be reviewed as it was a scandalous call.

The rest of the period was spent with the hockey side trying to outdo the constant stop start interruptive style Sheffield brought, as Manchester was pushing for the go ahead goal in the game. A lot of chances were made and it was Sheffield who struck the post and luckily Manchester cleared away to the Steeldogs zone. We also had the Suspended player coach for Sheffield one Andre Payette sat in with the Phoenix fans as he was serving the final game of his 4 match ban for Spearing a player a couple weeks back. 

Though apparently a player coach isn`t allowed to be sat in the stands when suspended and was barking no pun intended orders to his players. Phoenix did take the lead as a few minutes of pressure by the returning Player coach from his 10 minutes resulted in Manchester camped inside the Sheffield zone and was giving them headaches as they struggled to get the puck. Hand danced his way round into a gap passed to Flaten who set up Bentham whose fist shot was saved by Sedlar in nets but he got his own rebound for a 2-1 lead 30-59.  Better was to come as couple minutes later Bari McKenzie scored from a tight angle almost level with Sedlar and his shot somehow found a way in for 3-1 and Steeldogs looked a bit lost goal was timed at 32-00.

There wasn`t much time to celebrate as that man for the Steeldog Greg Wood put home from a rebound as Jaszczyk lost sight of the puck and as it came to Wood, He couldn`t force in his initial effort but he did second time and made it 3-2 at 3549
And there was more chippiness by the young Upstarts from over the Pennines as Duggan was clearly caught along the neck by a Sheffield player, punches and slashes going missed by the Referee. Which was angering the crowd as these penalties weren`t so hidden from the ref as more done in front of the referee but nothing was getting called and you felt the game was straining to be get out of control as these were more blatant calls than I’ve seen in hockey. 

Greg Wood then tried to check someone and came off second best and stayed down but the referee carried on but had a look on his face that was “I can`t stop this now” So Phoenix attacked and just missed the target. Wood looked round and dashed off to the bench as the puck was sliding along the boards. Then in the last couple of minutes we had a when is a “ICING not a ICING?” riddle as Sheffield cleared it down the ice and players were skating around the Steeldogs zone for a face-off the Referee and Linesman called it no icing! Which drew shouts from the stands and when Phoenix did exactly the same they were called for icing themselves. Very inconsistence all game the officiating was.

End of the period came to a big cheer from the Home fans as they rose to their feet for their players as they headed to the locker rooms and one of the most loudest boos I’ve heard in ages directed towards the officials and could be heard clearly outside. 


Manchester had to decide whether they would attack an go in search of a goal to and attack all period or play smart and hit Sheffield on the break, As Phoenix were slightly tiring a bit being men down and defending the one goal lead. Phoenix came out pushing hard for this 2 goal cushion and when Bari McKenzie was twisting and turning and making a fool out a Sheffield player near the nets, It was no surprise he was pleased with that and tried to shoved on top of the Sheffield nets and carried on pushing and shoving him nearly send the net toppling. Clear penalty and was FINALLY called by Perring which drew one of the Biggest cheers of the night and was against you know who Greg Wood for somehow “HOOKING” when there was hook to be seen at all, penalty timed 42-56

Phoenix was given an extra man advantage and a 5-on-3 Power play, which is the worst thing for Manchester as they have conceded more goal Shorthanded than they have scored on the Power play. So Gibson was called for TRIPPING up Tony Hand in mid ice and Hand just slid from one side of the ice to the other and Gibson proceeded to make gestures of Diving and Holding up an imaginary card for what he deemed a dive! Penalty coming at the 4357 mark. Most refs would give 10 Misconduct for that as we`ve seen a lot worst given for 10 at the Ice Dome this season.

So the ensuing Power play took place and 1 shot on the entire 2 man advantage on what has to be said yet again a lacklustre power play by Phoenix. Both Steeldogs were let out of the box and play resumed, and then we had the rare rare sight of Captain Luke Boothroyd or “cool head Luke” and Andrew Hirst of visitors grabbing hold of each other. Behind play and fans expecting fireworks after a heavy hit by Hirst on Ben Wood moments after Wood had put a hard hit on him. Both players were given 2 minutes each for HOLDING at 4707 (and the interview about it on the podcast is bit funny too). 

Phoenix were caught in more penalty trouble as Steve Duncombe was skating at an angle with Richard Bentham who looked like he wanted to take someone of the Steeldogs on in the entire game, both were side by side Duncombe lost control and went down looked back and Perring called the penalty on him to which he was massively frustrated which as was a lot of fans as the call was the softest all game. So he headed to the box for TRIPPING at 49-57.  

The Power play for Sheffield was quite good they moved the puck about and were pulling the defence out of position; Just the final pass or shot was eluding them at the final hurdle. Then both sides had chances Phoenix had 2 great chances as one shot went across the face of crease and goal line missing the goalies legs by inches & then one pinged off the foot of the post by James Archer. The game was played liked a early Playoff game and both sides upped the checking a bit and Schnabel found him on the end of a penalty for INTEFERENCE at 5130 as Sheffield looked surprised too at it.

Phoenix looked to be holding on for the last 10 minutes it seems as Sheffield came at them with everything, The power play was good again by them and when ex Phoenix defenseman Ben Morgan skated towards goal with a mostly easy chance he ballooned it into the netting high above the plexi and they knew that could have been the last effort. Sheffield 2 players that seemed to just play hockey was Edgars Berbris and new Import Lubomir Korhon as he was the most noticeable player wearing white gloves. 

The 2 imports gave Phoenix a bit of a run around especially Korhon, as he used a lot of stick skills and speed as he twisted and turned the phoenix inside out during the game. He found Bebris and his effort went just wide of the post, the play switched down the far end as they tried to start another attack but Tom Duggan batted the puck out of the air while on a 1 on 3 waited for Archer to skate freely in and Sedlar produced one of the most stunning cart wheeling saves I’ve seen. 

Everyone in the rink applauded him even the linesman as everyone expected a goal as he went down early to save it. Fantastic save and worth the admission for that glove saves alone. Time was ticking by and then Phoenix were struggling Tony Hand tried to clear the puck only for it fly in the netting and so he was given a 2 minute penalty for DELAY OF GAME at 57:33. 

Home fans were biting their nails as they urged their side to stop their bitter rivals tying the game up and shots came whistling past the net and Jaszczyk saved and covered up. In the final minute and a bit Duncombe was literally dragged off the ice by team mates as he was injured somehow in a play and the net minder Sedlar was trying to dash to the bench and bring the extra attacker on 2x he tried and the 3rd time they replaced him. 

Phoenix net was like the Alamo as defenders blocked, sticks were all over and slashing the puck behind the net and trying to hold the puck against the boards it was a frantic finish. And for Phoenix the horn sounding was the best sound they`d heard as the phoenix players celebrated one Sheffield player was so frustrated he smashed his stick against the glass so hard as they were clearly annoyed by losing to their local rivals.  



Manchester Phoenix: 32 PIM   Sheffield Steeldogs: 14 PIMS


Andrew Jaszczyk:  24   Dalibor Sedlar: 39


Manchester Phoenix: #31 Andrew Jaszczyk     Sheffield Steeldogs: #35 Dalibor Sedlar



FINAL 13 seconds:



It`s that of year already when the Deutsche Eishockey Liga starts up to crown the Champions of Germany. Adler Mannheim and Koln(Cologne) Haie finished in 1st and 2nd respectively in the league standings. It`s also a bit of a shock that both side only have one player representing them in the Top 20 Points scorers overall, But also means that they spreaded the points out showing they ain`t just a 1 man team they are both good sides and contribute all over the ice.  Koln also had the best goaltender in the league with Danny aus den Birken ranked number 1 with a save percentage of 92.9 %.

The playoffs get started this Wednesday night as the First Round of the 2013 Playoffs starts with the Augsburger Panther playing host to the Straubing Tigers and in the other first round match up it`s the Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers of Nuremberg facing off against the Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg.  Both matches are played in a best of -3- series before winners advance.  So the winner of the Augsburger/Straubing series will face the challenge of Koln Haie in the Quarter Finals.

And winners of the other First Round clash will face Adler Mannheim, The other Quarter Final match ups sent in stone are Krefeld Penguine v ERC Ingolstadt and the reigning champions Eisbaren Berlin will face the Hamburg Freezers in their defence of the their championship.

FIRST ROUND:  (best of 3 series)  13th-17th

Augsburger Panther 8 v  Straubing Tigers 9

Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers 7 v Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg 10


QUARTER FINALS:  ( best of 7 series)  20th March – 4th April

Adler Mannheim 1  v  Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers / Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg

Krefeld Penguine 3  v ERC Ingolstadt 6

Eisbaren Berlin 4 v Hamburg Freezers 5

Koln Haie 2  v Augsburger Panther / Straubing Tigers


MORE IN DEPTH Later in Playoffs..








Manchester Phoenix put together a fantastic display of attacking power Saturday evening as they thrashed a sorry Peterborough Phantoms 7-2 in front of yet another Sell out a crowd in the Altrincham Ice Dome. The victory meant it was the Manchester club 5th successive win in a row and puts them in good stead for the upcoming playoffs at the back end of this month.

Phoenix were still riding on a crest of a wave after their wins last weekend over the top 2 in the league Guildford Flames  & Basingstoke Bison respectively. However Phoenix knew a slip up to a physical side in Peterboro would give the chasing Milton Keynes Lightning a chance to close the gap on Phoenix for 3rd spot as currently its 3 points difference.

sell out crowd

Peterborough have been one of the sides that have frustrated the hell out of Manchester this year as they have twice took the Phoenix to wire with penalty shots after Phoenix threw away 2 glorious leads down in Peterborough and have shared penalty shootout wins too. The last visit of Phantoms to the Ice dome resulted in a shock 4-3 victory to the East Anglian team, with them thrashing their hosts 9-4 in the last meeting between the two back on February 10th.

Phoenix started much like they had done the previous weekend as they took charge early of the game as they pressured Dan Green in the Phantoms net, peppering him from all angles. Green looked lost to be fair as the puck was coming in at all angles and his defensemen weren`t helping him either. The Phoenix forwards were looking up for it as the big crowds have certainly energised the side in recent games as they have admitted that themselves. First shot of note came from James Archer as his shot from a tight angle struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced a couple of feet away from the goal line leading to it being cleared away.

Though it didn`t take long for the ex-Phantoms forward to score against his former club as the architech of the goal was defenceman Ondrej Pozivil, The Czech D man skated round the zone breaking through attempted challenges to feed Archer and he scored from close range to give Manchester the opening goal at 4:00 with Pozivil and Tom Duggan getting assists. Peterborough were getting good chances as well ,as the defence for the hosts was forgetting its duties as the visitors had numerous break aways as both sets of defences were getting to far forward and leaving gaps at the back leading to alot of breaks outs.

Eventually it caught up with Phoenix the lapses of defending, As Tom Norton hit a pass up ice to Tom Carlon and the forward skated 1 on 1 towards Jaszczyk in the Phoenix nets. Carlon tried to beat the young nettie but his effort was saved but only as far as the trailing Ondrej Lauko who joined late on the play and tapped home the rebound to make the score 1-1 after 9:02.

Then the big crowd was treated to a good old fashioned punch up as Andy McKinney and Greg Pick dropping the gloves straight from the restart, Both combatants got a couple of punches in and then both were trying to steady themself while still swinging McKinney just seemed to push him and Pick went backwards falling down and the linesman got in to separate them both. Both received 2+2 for ROUGHING at 9:05

The game wasn`t the most prettiest to watch at times, But was bit “hung ho” as both teams seemed to play a game of bring everyone forward and forget about defending, this was never more evident than at 11:54, as Phoenix broke away with Pozivil starting the breakout with Tony Hand, Hand quick pass through the gap came to Michal Psurny and he fired the puck past Green to make it 2-1. James Neil then took a trip to the box for HOOKING at 14-17 and from that resulting power play the guests tied the game as Ondrej Lauko again scored to make it 2 – 2 at 14-38 with James Ferrara and Tom Carlon helping out on the goal. Period came to an end  after a crazy kind of period of hockey with the scores tied at 2. Second Stanza started with Phoenix going on the penalty kill early as Bari McKenzie was called for HOLDING at 20 -35 giving Peterborough the chance to take the lead, But Phoenix killed the penalty off successfully. Phoenix retook the lead as Psurny & Joachim Flaten worked well together to set up Ondrej Pozivil goal as Flaten pass cross to the back post was put home by the Czech Republic native with the goal coming at 25-54.

Tom Duggan then sat 2 minutes for HOLDING timed at 29-58. Phantoms had a mini patch of pressure on the Manchester goals as Ziedens and Glowa had chances, Will Weldon tried his best to score when there was a scramble in front of Jasczcyk ,But his effort was him kicking it goalwards and being stopped by the defencemen and netminder too. Manchester held firm though on the powerplay and were tightening up significently at the back. Joe Graham was called soon after Duggan penalty as he was called for HOLDING THE STICK at 30-14.  Bari McKenzie scored for Phoenix to make it 4-2 as Archer and Duggan combined for Bari to score on the power play at 35-31

Joe Graham then made his 2nd trip to the box for CLIPPING as he went to block a shot but took out a Phoenix player in the process at 39-45. 3rd & final period started with Phoenix scoring a power play goal as Peterborough were still killing off the penalty on Graham from at the time, Bari McKenzie took his goal tally to 2 for night as Tom Duggan passed him the puck in the slot and it beat Green making the score 5-2 with James Archer grabbing an assist too on the goal at 41-31.

 Michal Psurny scored his 2nd of the game as well with Tony Hand assisting on the goal as Phoenix were running riot now making it 6-2 at 44-07. The heads of the Phantoms had well and truly dropped by now, As it was noticable that a few players were just skating around for the sake of it and not fully interested as the game was out of reach and they didn`t look like pulling a comeback out this time. James Archer didn`t want to be left out of the 2 goal club either , So after some great work by the 2nd line with McKenzie and Duggan all working the corners & boards and recycling the puck down low in the Phantoms zone . The puck came to Archer and his shot from the Phantoms face off circle somehow found a gap and went in past Green who was in complete disbelief over how it went in the net.

The contrasting emotions on the bench were so obvious as one side was smiles and back slapping was going on and the other was of despair and resignation of the game. Phantoms called a timeout which resulted with Phoenix making a goaltender change with 15 mins left as Jorge El-Hage came into the game to standing ovation from the home fans. The Rochdale native made some great saves and looked sharper between the pipes and made a few good saves too. Phoenix came out and played great hockey and put on a clinic as Peterborough couldn`t deal with the home side as they camped in Phantoms zone for majority of the 3rd. Peterboro had a few chances but El Hage was equal to them all. Manchester then got called for a ICING INFRACTION at 54-37 and then Ben Wood made the journey to the box also as he knocked the stick out of the Peterboro hands and so sat for SLASHING at 55-56 , Both penalties were killed off by the home side and then with only 45 seconds left in the game Greg Pick was called for SLASHING at 59-15 and time was play out with a big cheer as the Phoenix keep up their recent winning streak.


English Premier League GP W OTW OTL L GF GA Pts
1 Guildford Flames 50 34 2 2 12 216 140 74
2 Basingstoke Bison 50 29 3 4 14 170 126 68
3 Manchester Phoenix 49 24 6 3 16 196 160 63
4 Milton Keynes Lightning 50 26 4 2 18 162 136 62
5 Slough Jets 49 20 5 4 20 177 173 54
6 Swindon Wildcats 49 20 1 10 18 184 189 52
7 Bracknell Bees 49 18 4 5 22 181 188 49
8 Peterborough Phantoms 51 18 5 3 25 173 188 49 
9 Sheffield Steeldogs 50 15 5 1 29 143 199 41
10 Telford Tigers 49 8 1 2 38 117 220 20



PHOENIXAndrew Jasczcyk   Shots faced :15    86.67%    / Jorge El Hage  shots Faced: N/A

PHANTOMSDan Green    Shots faced: 28 85.71%


PHOENIX : 14    PHANTOMS : 10  

MAN OF THE MATCH: PHOENIX: #86 Bari McKenzie       , PHANTOMS : #23 Tom Carlon








CROWD Waiting to get in

Less than 24 hours after the heartbreaking exit in the EPL CUP to Guildford Flames, Manchester Phoenix took on Basingstoke Bison a team which was 5-0 up in the season series as Phoenix had struggled to get to grips with the drilled disciplined side coached by Doug Sheppard. Manchester have always had a blind spot when it comes to playing sides coached by Sheppard, As they were outplayed by his former side Slough Jets and were beaten by his former team in the EPL PLAYOFFS Final last season.
This season they have had the Indian sign over Tony Hand going into this game,having won every game this season. So with the Bison in recent games capitulating over recent weeks and the previous night ,overcoming a tough Topsy turvy game against Slough winning 5-4 on penalties, The Phoenix were going into the game on the back of 3 successive wins with the win over the League Champions Guildford the night before in the cup being the most standout result.
Basingstoke were missing 6 personnel in their squad as Alex Symonds, Kurt Reynolds, James Smith, Andy Melachrino, Jacob Heron and one of Phoenix favourite pantomime villains Nicky Watt. Manchester were missing long term absentee ,Starting Goaltender Steve Fone through injury.So like Saturday night Andrew Jszczyk retained his place between the pipes as the Home side set their sights on beating the only team they had yet to beat!
The game was played in front of a Packed out Altrincham ICE DOME the first sell out since the old Elite days, When they played a Elite League KO cup match in a nearly full house against strangely enough the Basingstoke Bison and won 6-1 that night! WAS THIS AN OMEN?


The Teams came out and after the National Anthem was played the game was under way and off we went. The chants of “PHOENIX!” were ringing around the rink from opening face off, as it was the hometown team that got off to a great start as they tested Stevie Lyle in the Bison net from the off and pressured him alot in the early stages of the game.
The line that was causing alot of problems for Guildford the previous night was doing the same against Basingstoke too. As the 2nd line with Archer, McKenzie and Duggan running rings around the Bison defense with their quickness and so was no surprise when that line opened the scoring in the game. When Bari McKenzie combined with James Archer for Tom Duggan with a quick release shot that past Lyle for 1-0. His defenseman looked to have screened him outside his crease for the goal it looked like, So Phoenix drew first blood at 2-32 into the game.
Worse was to happen for the Bison as at 3-41, Some quick movement of the puck by the Manchester forwards led to Michal Psurny making it 2-0 for Phoenix, And Phoenix were in full control as Basingstoke looked to left their game on the coach, As they were poor compared to previous matches between the 2 sides. Lyle didn`t look as confident as he normally does and his defensemen were going walking about leaving him hung out to dry a fair few times.
Tom Duggan was the first player sent to the penalty box as he was called for HIGH STICKS at 5-13, But a good defensive effort by the Penalty kill and the netminder too meant no breakthrough for the away side. Most of the period was played along the boards as both sides tried to grind their opponents and play a tactical game. The game was not a fast flowing run & gun game that was pleasing to the eyes, But it looked like a tactic that finally Phoenix could use against the Bison as the herd struggled to deal with it.
Phoenix clearly dominated the 1st period as Bison was struggling to get anything going at all and looked a very frustrated side indeed, And so as we approached the break  Andy McKinney was sent to the box for TRIPPING at 18-24 and on the Bison power play nothing was being created much in the way of chances for them. Then as the puck fell onto the stick of Joe Greener on the blue line he seemed to throw one on goal and it went straight in as the young netminder was screened by the group of players in front of him with just 2 seconds left of the 1st period at 19-58.
Basingstoke weren`t testing the young goalie in the Phoenix nets too much at all as Phoenix were holding their shots off to the outside, And shots were missing the target or they were just unable to generate any plays at all. The late goal by Greener coming on the back end of the last period had certainly given them a confidence boost and could easily have swayed the game in favour the opposition.
Basingstoke seemed lacklustre and looked a completely  different side to the one had visited Manchester on the 2 previous occasions. Where they soaked up pressure and countered but this was far from a side that looked capable from it, whether it was down to a bad night at the office or they were in a mini slump they were not playing the seem type of game compared to normal.
And Manchester were countering their guest with good play as they continued the puck by the boards but, at the same time so were the Bison more so than Phoenix. Then at 28-54 Tom Duggan was up ended by Greg Chambers with an apparent elbow on the Phoenix forward which drew blood and so we had a delay as they scraped the blood of the ice. So with play ready to resume Referee gives Player coach Tony Hand a 10 minute ABUSE OF OFFICIAL for something he must have said as he was incensed with no call from the play against Chambers.
So moments later Joe Miller then went to the box for HOOKING at 29-17. Then we had a mini wave of goals at the end of the 2nd period, First off Jaroslav Cesky struck a fantastic goal over the shoulder of Jsczczy in Phoenix nets with the smallest of gaps and his accurate shot rung in off the pipes for 2-2 coming at 37-51. Phoenix responded under a minute later as Liam Chong Feed Andy McKenzie and as he skated  1 on 1 against Lyle he pulled him all over with some dekes and slid it between Lyles legs for a 3-2 lead at 38-50. And to round of the period, Ondrej Pozivil and Michal Psurny set up Joachim Flaten to make it 4-2 at 39-25 and that was the killer goal really.
3rd period, Bison stalwart Tony Redmond was sent to the box for  HIGH STICKS as he caught Tom Duggan accidentally and so sat at 43-20 along with Joe Greener who was given a 10 minute ABUSE OF OFFICIAL too. By the time Redmond had parked his backside in the box he was back out again, as from face off in the Herd zone Pozivil gave it to Psurny who somehow managed to get it high up and the puck find a way in, As he scored the Power play goal as Lyle seemed to have covered the whole net, goal was clocked at 43-34.
Last action of the game in the 3rd period was James Archer getting a loose puck and taking a quick wrist shot at Lyle which beat him to make it 6-2 at 45-49. Phoenix picked up a ICING INFRINGEMENT penalty at 57-58, But was killed off successfully and so the end of 60 minutes, send the Packed out crowd home with a big smile after a fantastic weekend for the Manchester side beating both Top 2 teams in the league.


Andrew Jaszczyk  20 SHOTS faced 90.00%      Stevie Lyle     36  SHOTS faced  88.89%
PHOENIX  : 16   BISON :14







Yet again the old cliché for the Manchester Phoenix and Semi finals can be used when it comes to the EPL CUP at least as it was another case of “Always the bridesmaids, never the bride”, As that’s is now 4 consecutive seasons Phoenix have reached the semi finals and lost out each time & also now 2 years running to the Guildford flames. Coming into the game it looked a difficult task beating the flames by 3 to take the tie outright, but by all means do-able as both sides had 3 wins a piece in the drawn league series between the 2 Pyro named sides.

The 6-4 loss to the Flames in Guildford in the 1st leg was a bit of a 2 way thing the bad side the Phoenix were short benched as they had a few players missing compared to the Flames big bench and missing your starting netminder is the biggest problem you have in the EPL unless you have 2 netminder of the equal quality and ability like some teams can afford to do. Manchester are one of the teams not in the position to able to do that and that is why the chase for the league title slipped away along time ago.

The positive way to look at it was they lacked depth in the line up and still kept it close enough for a possible turn around in the 2nd leg so with that, 3 periods played 3 left to go and the winners awaiting Slough Jets in the final.

The 1st period started off a bit cagey as neither side were doing much shooting as play was mainly in neutral ice or the defences were on top of the forwards at both ends. Guildford game plan was to play a patience waiting game and break on the counter and take the chances that fell their way.
Manchester were just hoping the Flames gameplan backfired and that they could tire them out from defending most of the game.

Eventually after the feeling out of both teams Phoenix came alive and mainly the 3rd line of James Archer, Tom Duggan and Bari McKenzie, those sparked the home side especially McKenzie as seemed a different player than the one we`ve seen since he arrived before christmas. Both him and Duggan were by far the 2 best Phoenix players on show as the two smallest players were like terriers snapping at the ankle of the Guildford players & refusing to give up lost causes.

James Archer first took aim at Mark Lee at the Flames goal as his shot was turned away and faced a few more shots as Phoenix were the team on top with a majority of possession in the period. David Savage was called at 3-57 for TRIPPING & Neil Liddiard was called for hooking down Duggan at 8-07 meaning another Phoenix powerplay which was a decent one. The puck was being rotated around by the home side & seeing some player movement which was dragging the Flames players out of position was working. So when Tony Hand skated round the net into a free position and unmarked the pass came to him from the blue line cross ice but he fanned on his shot, with it just reaching the side of the net at snails pace.

Typically against the run of play Guildford took the lead as Flames were attacking in the Phoenix end the puck came to Curtis Huppe and the sniper cut in with some good stick work as he avoided the defenseman and wristed one past Jaszczyk to make it 1-0 on the night and 7-4 on aggregate and the goal seemed to deflate the whole rink as the goal went in as the large Flames contigent celebrated the goal, assists on that goal were given to David Longstaff & Jez Lundin at 12-46. The remainder of the period was Guildford taking control abit more as Phoenix seemed certainly flat after that goal went in. Only other action of note was a INTERFERENCE call on Branislav Kvetan at 16-34.

Second period was carrying on from the first period as the game was cracking to watch as the game was competitive and with the Flames up by 3 goals on aggregate the game could have just fizzled out, But it didn`t as both team were still going for as it showed when Guildford Nathan Rempel and Phoenix Rob Schnabel dropped the gloves to face off. The fight didn`t last long at all as the build up was longer than the actually fight as Schnabel slipped when he lost his edge as he avoided Rempel hook, both of them picked up 2+2 penalties for ROUGHING at 23-36. Milo Melicherik was called shortly after for SLASHING at 25-17.

The fight seemed to slightly ignite the home side abit as Phoenix scored through a Ondrej Pozivil goal, As Duggan worked it well to Pozivil who then layed it off to James Neil who was going past him in the other direction and he picked out Pozivil who slotted home from close range to make it 1-1 at 25-36. Then a powerplay goal came quickly after as Michal Psurny scored to give Manchester the lead at 26-01 with assists going to Tony Hand and Joachim Flaten to make the overall score 7-6 to Guildford at this stage.

Melicherik was back in the box again for HOOKING at 27-54 putting the Phoenix back on the powerplay again, but they couldn`t make of it before Luke Boothroyd brought down a Flames player HOOKING him at 28-27. The Flames were then on a short powerplay and made use of it as Melicherik did something positive for the away side as his pass to Longstaff went to Rempel who quickly shot past Jaszczyk in nets as he was clueless as to where the puck was. The score was now 2-2 and 8-6 on agg with the goal coming at 30-02.

Milos Melcherik then headed back to the box for the 3rd consecutive time for HIGH STICKS as his hit on Duggan was very high as Andy McKinney was angry with the actions that at 30-27.  Phoenix powerplay produced one real effort as Hand effort at the side of the goal was aimed too high and hit the plexi behind the nets. James Archer then visited the penalty box as he was called for INTERFERENCE at 35-10. The faceoffs situations were getting ridiculous as Guildford were taking ages to get ready and causing delays and retakes after retakes, leading to the ref to take action as Huppe was messing around and Referee was sick and tired of the antics and so gave the forward 2 minutes for DELAY OF GAME at 37-59.

The 3rd period, Phoenix upped their game abit as they were a bit sloppy at times in the second period and tried to push one last time for the final 20 minutes. As it seemed Phoenix had lost there way abit in the second compared to first period. Manchester retook the lead as James Archer quick release shot beat Lee in nets to make the score 3-2 at 42-26 with Bari McKenzie & Tom Duggan who were the most effective line all game for the home side and the crowd was right behind them now as the momentum switched back to Phoenix again.

As Phoenix were defending as hard as they could and seemed to be shutting the Flames down David Savage noticed the movement of Nathan Rempel so his pass up ice was latched onto by the Flames forward and he pulled the young keeper out of position and slipped it home to tie the game again at 3-3 coming at 50-44. Then the killer for Phoenix was Andy McKinney & Richard Bentham both picking up 10 minute MISCONDUCT penalties each at 51-03 as Phoenix were short benched and now losing 2 bodies for the rest of the game was a massive problem.

Rempel then got penalized for HOOKING at 51-32, Then Guildford received a team penalty for ICING INFRACTION as they changed illegally putting the Phoenix on the Powerplay and it lasted all of 7 seconds as Hand won the faceoff, Pozivil fed Michal Psurny and he hit it high in the net for 4-3 lead with over 4 and half minutes goal timed 55-19. But sadly it wasn`t to be as the time ran out on yet another agonising EPL Cup run.

Flames played a good game while defending the 2 goal lead and made for a great advert for EPL hockey as always between the 2 sides. The Surrey based side now face Slough Jets in the final, While for Phoenix this would have to be used to start the momentum as we head towards the Playoffs at the end of the month.


                          SHOTS ON GOAL:

PHOENIX: Andrew Jaszczyk   21

FLAMES:  Mark Lee   34

                              PENALTY MINUTES



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