Manchester Phoenix 7 – 0 Bracknell Bees
Manchester Phoenix made it four straight wins at home with a comfortable 7-0 thrashing of bottom of the table Bracknell Bees as the Phoenix proved too powerful for the Bees to handle and saw them overcome a weakened Bracknell side that was missing key youngster that on GB duty, but a brace by Czech Republic pair Frankie Bakrlik and Robin Kovar saw them victors. It saw home comforts for the Manchester side after they went down in Wiltshire on Saturday night to the Swindon Wildcats losing 4-2.
Both side were missing some of their key players as the Phoenix had netminder Steve Fone not icing due to an ankle injury and then missing forwards Jack Watkins out with an injury too and Bobby Chamberlain who was away on International duty for the G.B Under 20`s. Phoenix gave a home debut to Gareth O` Flaherty as the former Telford Tiger came in to the side on a 2-way deal with the ENL (English National League) Coventry Blaze.
In the case of Bracknell it saw them missing defenseman Harvey Stead and forward Ivan Antonov due to representing the Great British Under 20`s national side of which had Chamberlain of the Phoenix as team mates.
The game itself was pretty much dominated all the way through by the Manchester Phoenix as the home side put the slightly inexperienced Bees side in trouble from the off, as the hosts tested Alex Mettam in the Bracknell goals and saw him called upon fairly often with the Phoenix attack threatening throughout. Pavel Strycek was called for a Hooking call on Frankie Bakrlik at 3.00 and so put the home side on a power play to which the Phoenix made use of with James Archer scoring put the puck past Mettam at 4.44 and see Manchester lead 1-0 with assists given to Bakrlik and Tony Hand.
Bracknell was lacking any kind of cutting edge in their play and whether it was in physical play or attacking play, the Bees just seemed to lack confidence and belief across the ice, with no real plan at all. Harvey Hind-Pitcher then took the trip to the penalty box went he sat for two minutes for a High Sticking call at 5.19 and saw a failed attempt to convert with the extra man advantage for the Phoenix as the Bees killed it off successfully.
Manchester completely dominated the period and saw the Bees rarely threaten the hosts whatsoever, as the scoreline was the only thing to close. Phoenix then netted a second goal in the match following a Tripping call by Jan Bendik on netminder Declan Ryan, who had cleared the puck from behind his own net, before the Slovakian used his stick to upend the netminder.
Czech forward Frankie Bakrlik then made it 2-0 on the power play, when a pass across ice from Robin Kovar rebounded in off the Czech forward skate and deflected in over Alex Mettam to double their lead at 19.48.
Second period and the home side continued to assert their dominance of the game, as the Phoenix then had a little spell of penalty trouble to which first off Joe Graham was sent to sit for two over a Tripping call and then once the penalty expired Graham was skating back to the bench and saw the line change by Manchester get horribly disorganised and was called for Too Many Men at 25.52.
Manchester killed the penalty off and put the beleaguered Bees in more trouble as Mettam wasn’t getting much help from his defense as he’d like to have done, which basically saw Bracknell come under a wave of pressure throughout and Phoenix cut through them.
Manchester then went 3 up at 29.59 when Frankie Bakrlik shot was partly saved by Alex Mettam and the puck managed to find its way into the back of the Bees goal for Phoenix to all but seal the points in reality. Bracknell was in disarray and unable to mount any type of attack whatsoever in the contest and it was clear there was to be no way back for the men from Berkshire. Assists on the Bakrlik goal got credited to James Neil and Robin Kovar as the hosts was putting on a good show for the large crowd inside the Altrincham Ice Dome.
Manchester nearly made it four when a three on one saw Michal Psurny and Tony Hand and James Archer all break up ice but a overly worked move saw Phoenix unable to get a shot off against Mettam and so Bracknell was let off the hook.
Robin Kovar made it 4-0 at 36.28 when Bakrlik and former Bees forward Shaun Thompson assisted the Czech man to convert on what was the easily goal he`ll probably score this year. Kovar picked up the puck behind the Bracknell goals and with no defense at all trying to stop the Phoenix man he seemed to skate round in stages and so the left of the cage was unguarded to which he put home and summed up the Bees side that was lacking enthusiasm, attack and defense all game.
With the period winding down, the Bees had a couple of rare efforts on Declan Ryan as they tried to generate some creativity and found Ryan in the Manchester nets turning away all shots that came towards him and had the Manchester defence having one of their easier games with Bees playing a kind of damaged limitation type game.
In the final session it saw Kovar collect a penalty after just 41 seconds gone into the third, as he was called for Hooking and saw play down the Bees end rather than that of the home side as the visitors really wasn`t have their best nights to be honest. Minutes later the Czech forward netted his second of the game and Manchester`s 5th at 43.28, with Joe Graham and Frankie Bakrlik setting up Kovar to fire top shelf over the shoulder of the netminder and see the home side taking the visitors apart with their high tempo play and the lack of depth within the Bracknell side being exposed.
Lewis Turner got called for Tripping for the Bees with just over 10 minutes of the game to go, this saw the Phoenix unable to convert with the extra man but they did score not too long later, when captain Luke Boothroyd shot at the front of the net and his effort found a way in by Mettam for 6-0 at 51.59 and the thought must have come across the minds of the travelling Bees fans that made the journey up for the game and whether they would concede double figures due to the way their side was defending.
The scoring came to end less than a minute at later in the game at 52.28, when Tony Hand had time and space to bide his time and fire into the net that was gaping and the player coach made it 7-0 and all but saw Phoenix avenge their loss down at the ‘Hive’ a few weeks prior and did so in lethal fashion.
Manchester played the game out and gave Declan Ryan a early Birthday present in the shape of a shutout and his 3rd of the season with the previous two coming in the EPL Cup campaign.