MANCHESTER PHOENIX 4 – 5 TELFORD TIGERS
(2-1 After penalty shots)
Sunday Night saw a very controversial game at the Altrincham Ice Dome as two calls going the way of the Visiting Telford Tigers seen the Shropshire side come back from two goals down, to win the match in a penalty shootout and leave the home side in all aspects seething with some very questionable decisions in a crazy third period.
Both sides had come into the match on the back of losses on Saturday Night with the Tigers losing at home to the Guildford Flames 6-2, while Manchester had lost in a tough game down in Basingstoke, with the Bison coming out on top winning 4-2.
Phoenix was missing key defenseman Rob Schnabel in the line up after he was injured in the Basingstoke game. Schnabel got hit to his solar plexus in the first period by a stick, which resulted in Manchester missing their big Czech D man for the game against the Telford outfit. In the first minute of play in the game, Joe Graham saw his shot deflected by Robin Kovar as Declan Ryan made a stop in the Tigers nets, Kovar then had another effort just go wide of the net as the home side started off brightly.
However Phoenix seemed to be resorting to the same tactic in the opening 10 minutes of play as they were breaking away and then trying to pass it to the back post where there was no one coming in to put home most of the time. Richie Bentham and Ex- Tigers player Andy McKinney went on a breakaway for the home side and saw Liam Chong skating hard to get to the back post and get contact on it, but Ryan was quick to deny him.
Manchester then went on the power play after Nathan Salem was called for Tripping at 6:38 in the game. Manchester didn`t make use of the extra man advantage as one attack summed up the Phoenix play while on the power play, that being when the passing was slow and pedestrian at best. Bakrlik was the shooter on the point ready to blast one and when the puck came towards him, he went to one time it from the blue line but saw his stick brake and brought an end to the play as Manchester was stop start as the game was becoming very scrappy now.
Telford were starting to frustrate the home side now with their good defensive display and were out playing Phoenix in the opening period so much, that with good pressure and play it saw Telford take a lead at 11:20. Slovakian Marek Mikusovic had an effort which Steve Fone saved and then saw the rebound from Nathan Salem stopped to by Fone as well but the netminder couldn`t stop the third shot as Mikusovic scored for the Tigers as they led 1-0.
Phoenix almost scored from the restart when Psurny and Hand broke away on a 2 on 1, only for a Tigers Defenceman to block Tony Hand shot on goal and clear the danger for the Tigers. Ben Wood then had an effort on goal which saw his shot whistle past the Tigers net, however Phoenix kept possession still and saw the puck flash across the face of goals with no one there to score.
Phoenix almost drew level when Hand let loose a shot which was saved by Ryan but it was spat out straight to James Archer and the forward just couldn`t put it in to tie the game.
There was chaos at the other end then, when the puck seemed to settle next to Fone near post and saw a mad a scramble as the puck came loose in the Phoenix crease and Fone dived onto the puck to get the whistle, Phoenix were playing far below the standard they had so far this year. Then just before the 1st break Joe Graham was called for Hooking at 18:15 as the Tigers went into the break the happier side by far.
Phoenix in the second period looked a lot brighter and more cohesive than in the 1st by a distance. Manchester managed to kill off the power play that the Tigers were on and then minutes later drew level, when Tony Hand scored to make it 1-1 at 21:50.
The home side then created a chance with Hand and Bakrlik all skating forward before Bakrlik lost control of the puck in the Tigers Zone, till he battled back to win it and then laid it off for Luke Boothroyd and Ryan flashed a glove to stop the defender from giving them the lead.
Liam Chong and a Telford player collided at mid ice to which Chong picked himself up from the deck and got in position at the front of the net to which he direct the puck on goal, but only to see Ryan yet again stop him and then the puck got played across goals where James Archer was waiting and with a huge target to aim at, but Ryan while down made a breathtaking save to rob Archer as all Phoenix players and fans alike couldn`t believe he saved it.
Telford then retook the lead at 27:35 when a bit of scramble at the front of Phoenix occurred and when danger looked to be averted, Callum Bowley appeared from nowhere and just lifted it high into the Phoenix nets for a 2-1 lead as Phoenix defend just stood there like statues with the goal a bit against the run of play in the second.
Less than a minute later Phoenix responded when a Robin Kovar shot was redirected in past Dec Ryan, as he saw it trickle in to make the score 2-2 at 28:19.
Telford then had a goal disallowed when a Phoenix player had got stuck in the back of the net and with the goals off its moorings as well, it was was fairly clean cut itwas no goal. The Phoenix player just managed to get out of the nets while the nets were still off and once he skated towards to the bench, Telford put the puck in the net and a couple wasn`t happy with the decision, but they knew it wasn`t a goal despite less than half hearted protest, this wasn`t the only disallowed goal in the game.. More on that later.
Tom Watkins then got put in the box for Tripping at 33:26 in the game, while on penalty kill Telford broke away on a 2 on 1 which seen Robin Kovar back check for the Phoenix and managed to cut out a pass for the visitors and then managed to skate up ice and have an effort himself which seen Ryan yet again stop Phoenix.
At 35:25 the home side took the lead for the first time in the game when Bakrlik broke down the left wing before he passed across ice to Kovar who put it home to make it 3-2 Phoenix, with the home side starting to make their dominance count now.
Telford almost immediately hit back when a bouncing puck hit a few legs in front of Fone and seen the puck bobbled just past the post and gave the home fans a huge sigh of relief. Marek Mikusovic then got called for a horrible looking check from behind on a Michal Psurny, that saw Psurny have no way to defend himself and saw Hand skate right over to the Slovakian and have some VERY STRONG words with the Tigers player over the incident, yet all he got was 2 minutes for Cross Checks, when it should have been at least 2+10.
The following power play saw Phoenix extend their lead to a 2 goal lead as Robin Kovar made it 4-2 for the home side, with fellow Czech forward Michal Psurny and Player Coach Tony Hand combining for Kovar to score as it sent the water bottle flying off the nets at 39:11. That looked at the time to have given Phoenix the edge in the game and Telford seemed to have lost the momentum in the game as Manchester you thought would try to snuff out all hope of a comeback from Telford..well it was going to all go crazy in the third period.
Third period saw one of the most Controversial period`s Phoenix have ever been involved with at the Ice dome in their history, as firstly Manchester was penalised for an Icing Infringement at 41:08 to which they successfully killed off, then came the first of the two controversial decisions.
Phoenix were on the attack and when the puck came to Czech forward Michal Psurny his effort went past Ryan glove and struck the pipe work at the top of the net inside the goal and bounced out for 5-2 with Psurny and Hand started to celebrate as did everyone else in the Ice Dome, however referee Steve Brown who was in as good of a position as you`ll ever get to be in, wave it off for a no goal despite the red light coming on and everyone seeing the puck go in.
Psurny remonstrated along Hand behind the play about the goal not being awarded and saw Telford go right up the other end and saw Mikusovic pass the puck across the face of goal for Adam Taylor to tap in to make it 4-3. An incensed Hand and the normally cool and collected Michal Psurny along with a 1000 Manchester fans was all fuming with the referee up that end of the ice for refusing to give a perfectly good goal and no saw Phoenix a bit on the back foot.
The boos were still ringing round the rink and if they weren`t impressed by the officials on the Telford Tigers 3rd goal, then they would go ballistic over the 4th goal they score as the home side players were seething even more so with the officials. As in the lead up to the goal there was then a blatant off side call missed by the linesman and despite Phoenix fans and Phoenix players shouting “OFFSIDE” the whistle never came and saw Nathan Salem then put home for a 4-4 score line at 50-40 and the boos become even more anger driven by the home fans, as the referees had well and truly lost of control of this game now with their bad officiating.
Phoenix in truth after the Psurny “goal” lost their heads too and never fully focused properly after that incident, as now it was Telford in the ascendancy in the match. Mikusovic had a great chance to give the visitors the lead late on in the game when Luke Boothroyd stood on the puck just outside the Phoenix zone, the Tigers forward collected the puck and saw him skate it back in and saw his shot saved by Fone. As time dwindled away and so did the chance of a game winner in regulation so we went to Overtime.
Phoenix had the better of the chances in the extra period of play as Luke Boothroyd had a couple of chances in the space of 20 seconds, as he went from one end to the other and then battled back in the Tigers zone for the puck and managed get off another effort.
Psurny came close but Ryan stopped him and with the scores still deadlocked we then went to the penalty shot. Phoenix went first though Michal Psurny, who was still angry over the disallowed goal seen his penalty saved by Ryan.
Telford then had Nathan Salem score for them before Robin Kovar tucked home his penalty to make it 1-1, Marek Mikusovic missed his shot and when Luke Boothroyd took the 3rd one for Phoenix and pulled it wide it then came down to Callum Bowley who scored and gave Telford a very fortunate win under the circumstances and left the Phoenix with a real nasty taste in their mouth over the 2 goals scored by the Tigers in the 3rd.
Tony Hand and Phoenix still argued with the match officials and saw Tony Hand pick up a 10 misconduct penalty at the end as well to cap off the end of a controversial third period and game.