Manchester Phoenix 5 Guildford Flames 6
(After Penalties 0-1)
Manchester Phoenix found themselves unable to complete a much 4 point weekend, as it saw a former Phoenix man in Swedish forward Marcus Kristofferson netting a hat trick for the Guildford Flames in what was a seesaw battle between the two sides at the Altrincham Ice dome and what was a thrilling game of hockey for all that watched. Manchester looked to kick on after a their 8-3 victory down in Bracknell after they trailed 3-0, but scored 8 unanswered goals to take the victory on the Saturday Evening.
Phoenix started the game the brighter of the two sides as they put some early pressure on the visitors, but nothing that was really of note. Guildford then took the lead against the run of play at 3.54 as the Flames turned defence into attack and broke away up ice with Matt Towe and Vladimir Kutny assisting veteran forward David Longstaff, as the Guildford Captain went forehand to backhand cutting across the crease to slide the puck by Steve Fone and put the visitors up early 1-0.
Guildford then got into the game a bit more following their goal and enjoyed some chances on Steve Fone, but the Manchester netminder was more than equal to anything thrown on him in net. Manchester was only really threatening from the quick breakaways play they were creating and one of them led to an equaliser through Shaun Thompson. It all came from a Flames attack that saw them strike the crossbar and the puck was intercepted by home side through Shaun Thompson and as they broke on a 3 on 1 attack, it saw Thompson go top shelf on Greg Rockman for a 1-1 score.Minutes later though it saw Guildford given a power play opportunity as James Archer was called for a tripping on Marcus Kristofferson with the Swede making a bit of a meal of the fall, but no question it was a penalty. From there the Swedish forward in Kristofferson struck the twine to put the Flames back in front with the power play effort for 2-1 with Jozef Kohut and Tom Duggan assisting.
In the Second frame it saw the hosts on the penalty kill early for a mystery High Sticks call on Johan Burlin and that then saw the Flames go 3-1 up after a lapse in concentration by the home side. Tom Duggan sent the puck towards to the side of the net from the boards and had Fone knock it away to the board right to the path of Kohut and he played it toward Kristofferson at the front of the net and saw the Swede score his 2nd of the game at 21.05.
The home fans were getting frustrated by the non calls against Guildford and were angered by a boarding call missed by Jez Lundin on James Neil that saw the referee stood no further away than 4 foot from the incident, but didn’t make a call. Phoenix then seemed to channel their frustration into a goal from the following play as a shot on goal by Jack Watkins was tipped in by Robin Kovar at the front of the net to see them within one at 3-2.Guildford then got called for a Tripping on Frankie Bakrlik with the Czech forward upended and drew a loud cheer from the home fans as the official Andy Miller gave Manchester their first powerplay of the game with Vladimir Kutny going in the box. The opening minute saw them looking aggressive and trying to carve out a chance for themselves, but it saw them lose momentum as the man advantage went on and so the Flames killed it off.
It soon saw Guildford having a man back in the penalty box once more as this time Jozef Kohut was called for Slashing and didn`t see much in the way of the shots at all for the home side, but did see a couple of Flames breakaways and needed Steve Fone to come up big on a couple of occasions. Ben Wood then took one for the team soon after, with the visitors having a chance and had Wood tying up his man, but the Guildford man still got the shot off and resulted in a Hooking penalty against the interim Captain.Johan Burlin then followed suit soon after as he was called for a Hooking call himself and gave the visitors a 5 on 3 man advantage for less than a minute. Manchester killed off both penalties and saw them returning to full strength, but then saw them given an power play after a Trip by Jez Lundin saw him perform a sliding dive that took the legs of a Phoenix man with 1.21 left to go in the Second and would see Manchester start the third period with the extra man advantage.
The start of the third period saw an incredible 20 minutes of hockey by both sides, with the hosts netting twice in the opening 46 seconds of the play. James Archer got the ball rolling in the scoring column firstly, as he scored on the power play with Robin Kovar and Frankie Bakrlik assisting at 40.26 and that was quickly followed by Bakrlik with the Czech man turning from provider to scorer, with a nice wrist shot that beat Greg Rockman in the Guildford nets for the 4-3 lead and the first time and only time the Phoenix would lead in the contest at 40.46.
Their visitors responded in kind 4 minutes later, when they scored two goals in quick succession too as Ben Campbell netted at 44.08 to draw level and then Marcus Kristofferson completed his hat trick at 45.53 to restore the Flames lead for a 5-4 score. Rockman at 50.50 skate off towards the locker room with what looked like a groin strain and he was replaced by James Hadfield in the Flames net for the rest of the game. Manchester then asserted a lot of pressure on the Flames defence and saw Andy Hemmings go for a Slashing call and then Danny Meyers follow quickly after for the same offence. Phoenix battered the Flames defence and saw them struggling to withstand the onslaught by the home side and saw a very well worked power play by Manchester saw them strike the pipe work, much to Guildford relief.
It seemed it was only a matter of time before the puck would go in eventually for the home side and when Jez Lundin was called again for Tripping, it saw the home needing to score sooner rather than later with time ticking down for the home team. Phoenix quick passing was proving to be tricky for the Flames to deal with and when the puck fell to Tony Hand the player-coach for Manchester quickly fired the puck into the back of the net for a 5-5 game at 53.13. Manchester looked favourites to go on now and take the game as their tails were up and had Rockman in a bit of flap, as they pushed hard for the go ahead goal with the puck fizzing across the face of goal and saw the Flames hanging on in there as they refused to lie down and let the Phoenix find this winning goal. Guildford had a couple of chances themselves, which needed Fone to make a few saves to help his side stay in the game as it became end to end with a feel of overtime hockey being played out in the final couple of minutes.
Neither side could find the breakthrough and so we headed into a overtime period of hockey and had fans of both sides standing to applaud the teams for an enthralling 60 minutes of hockey played. The hosts were much more the aggressors in the extra period of play, as the Flames seemed content to play it out and go to the lottery of the shootout. Those plans were nearly thrown a bit when Branislav Kvetan was penalised for a Delay of Game penalty, to which after a lengthy discussion between the officials on ice it saw the home team given a 4 on 3 power play to try and score the game winner.
Manchester used their quick passing to good effect and had the Guildford defence in bother, but the visitors stood up well to the challenge and saw the hosts miss out on cashing in on their extra man advantage and see the game head to a shoot out. Both sides looked in search of the extra point on offer and had the home side taking the first penalty of the shootout with Adam Walker missing his effort with David Longstaff doing the same for the away side. Further misses by Frankie Bakrlik and Shaun Thompson for the Phoenix and Josef Kohut for the Flames, but the final word went to Vladimir Kutny as he slipped his penalty through the legs of Steve Fone to see the Surrey-outfit claim the extra point and hand Manchester another home defeat.