MANCHESTER PHOENIX 5 – 2 GUILDFORD FLAMES
Manchester Phoenix kept within touching distance of their nearest rivals with a 5-2 win over the second placed Guildford Flames, with Bobby Chamberlain scoring twice in the victory for the English Premier League Champions as they made it four successive home wins. The night before saw Phoenix put on a ‘brave’ effort against the Telford Tigers on Saturday evening which saw them holding the champs-elect to a 1-0 score for 55 minutes, but two late strikes the game saw the Tigers condemned the visitors to a 3-0 defeat.
The Phoenix came into the Sunday match needing to put some points on the board as they looked to keep their hopes up of catching the fifth placed in Swindon Wildcats, prior to faceoff. Guildford started the brighter of the two with the hosts sluggish out the gates and had Steve Fone making a couple of early saves to keep his side with a clean sheet. It saw Fone forced into a big save after Johan Burlin got caught in possession and had the netminder making a good save. Manchester quickly got their act together and came into the game more and more, with some chances of their own as James Hadfield in the Flames net was then kept busy. With both sides creating chances in the early part of the contest, it then saw a bizarre timeout taken by the visitors, which seemed a strange time to call one.
Frankie Bakrlik nearly broke the deadlock in the game, after a pass up ice saw him one on one with Hadfield but the netminder came out on top and made good stop from the Czech forward, to deny the home side an opener. Minutes later and this time the forward made no mistake with his effort, as after the Phoenix man collected a pass up ice by Shaun Thompson and saw him cutting through the Guildford defense, before then slotting it in the net at 7.33 with Ben Wood picking up the second assist on the goal.
Adam Walker came very close to adding a second for the Phoenix, with his effort pinging off the crossbar and away out of play and into the netting behind the goals. Both teams played well with the goalies repelling the attacks and had the Phoenix defense looking more solid than that of their opponents, with the home team doing well to keep a slender one goal lead. At the other end it saw the Phoenix carving out their own opportunities and needed James Hadfield needing to be alert to avoid as he kept his side from going two goals down in the game with some great stops.
The game started to see some chippy plays and had the match official in Paul Brooks seemingly not wanting to call anything at all. Both sides started to push the boundaries at times during the game with the referee missing a lot and seemed to having the teams not happy with his handling of the game. With 13.25 gone in the contest, it saw the opening penalty finally coming and going against the hosts with Frankie Bakrlik being given a two minute call for Hooking on Marcus Kristofferson, with the Czech Republic forward gesturing a diving action towards the referee and saw the Guildford Flames on a power play.
Guildford’s power play didn’t conjure up much in the two minutes that they had, but saw a good penalty kill by the home side to stop them causing anything threatening. David Longstaff then drew the visitor’s level at 18.42 after his shot was came off Steve Fone skate and the puck found its way in for 1-1 with Andrew Hemmings and Ben Campbell assisting on their Flames Captain’s goal. Just before the curtain came down on opening period it saw Robin Kovar heading to the penalty box for a high sticks, that would see the hosts starting the 2nd period on a penalty kill with fifty seconds left on it.
Moving to the second period of play, and it saw the Flames for the first half of the period taking it to the hosts and had a resolute Phoenix defensive effort holding out well. Finally a call came against the visitor’s and had Jez Lundin collecting a charging call just before the halfway mark in the game. Jez Lundin hit from behind started to see the momentum swing towards Manchester and had the Phoenix retaking the lead. The goals all started with long pass by Joe Graham to Adam Walker and with Bobby Chamberlain skating quickly in support on the far side, it led to Walker playing a perfect pass to Chamberlain towards the back post and he made it 2-1 at 33.01.
Heading into the third period and the home side managed to thwart nearly most of the Guildford attempts in the period, with the Surrey based outfit attacks being snuffed out with a good solid defensive display by the home side, and not giving them much of a sniff at goal. With the home fans irate over the non-calls going against the visitors, it then saw former Phoenix man Andrew McKinney picking up a hooking call to see Phoenix given a power play opportunity. Manchester once more with the man advantage, couldn`t work anything and saw the Phoenix once more failing to even generate a shot on goal and had the Flames easily kill it off.
Frankie Bakrlik then picked up a penalty for boarding and from that call, it led to Danny Meyers scoring on the power play to tie the game at 2-2 and peg the hosts back once more. Soon after coming out of the penalty box and not getting a call going his way, the Czech forward spoke out of term to Brooks and sat for ten minutes with an abuse of official call and saw Bakrlik really done for the night. With the scores tied, it took 50 seconds after the Flames tying goal to then see the Phoenix restoring their lead again, through the sniping skills of Bobby Chamberlain with the Manchester forward scoring his second goal of the game from a near impossible angle to find the back of the net at 52.01 with Robin Kovar and Shaun Thompson assisting.
Adam Walker then made it 4-2 for the hosts, with a strike by the Scottish forward seeing Manchester move two goals clear of their opponents and then after Matt Towe was penalised for hooking, it saw Robin Kovar making it five with a power play goal at 57.02 with Tony Hand and Adam Walker assisting on the goal and sealing the win.
The win means it keeps the pressure up on the two sides above them, with them chasing the tails of their nearest rivals the Swindon Wildcats and their next opponents to the Altrincham ice dome in the Peterborough Phantoms next Sunday. With the business end of the season well and truly here now, points will be harder to come by and if results was go massive in their favour next weekend, it could see the Phoenix just two points off 4th place. Manchester travel down to Buckinghamshire next Saturday night, as they meet the Milton Keynes Lightning and then onto the Phantoms home on the Sunday.