Manchester Phoenix 1 – 7 Cardiff Huskies
This past Saturday saw the Manchester Phoenix welcoming the Cardiff Huskies to the Altrincham ice dome, in what was a reverse fixture to the opening match of the league season in which on that occasion the Phoenix came out 4-2 victors in that game and looked to build upon that win. Their opponents had picked up a stunning result in their previous game, thrashing the League and Playoff winners the Peterborough Phantoms 6-2 so both teams had momentum coming into the contest.
From the drop of the first puck, it was very clear that the visitors wanted to get revenge for their earlier defeat in the league against the Phoenix, and saw the Welsh side come the much brighter team. The Huskies came close with a couple of half chances for Scotty Turner as the forward almost gave his side an early lead in the game.
Manchester seemed to be lacking match sharpness compared to their visitors, as Phoenix hadn’t played since their opening day win and compared to the Huskies it showed. With the game ticking along it saw a bit of a scrappy period with not much really in the way of goal mouth action or shots by either side. Cardiff though threw the puck on goal a fair few times and hoping for a rebound, but Steve Midghall in the Phoenix nets was always comfortable with dealing with the shots and kept the game scoreless.
Manchester then created a glorious chance against the run of play, when duo Karl Nicholson and Anthony Booth broke away up ice on a 2 on 1 for the home side but Huskies Netminder Han O’ Connor made a good stop at her near post to deny the Phoenix and avoided what would have been a sucker punch for the away side.
Nathan Stephens then came even closer for the away side but Midghall was to the rescue once more for home side as he made yet another good stop off the forwards, but you always thought it was a matter of time before they broke through. Manchester then got called for too many men at 9.17 in the game and that saw them successively kill off the penalty with ease after their opponents couldn`t make much use of the extra man advantage.
As we headed towards the end of the opening period it saw Cardiff deservedly taking the lead in the game through Nathan Stephens at 14.15 with Tim James and Scotty Turner both picking up assists to see the Huskies go 1-0 up after end of the first period. Moving to the second period and it saw a period to forget for the home team, as the Phoenix crumble under severe pressure by their visitors.
The nightmare period started just after two minutes in to it when Stephens slalomed his way past the Phoenix players before firing at the near post and beating Steve Midghall all ends up to double the lead for the Huskies at 16.30, with the assist going to Paul Furber. Twenty-Six seconds later and the score moved onto 3-0 for Cardiff after Scotty Turner fired high over the netminder and the static home defence to see the home side in disarray and the travelling side taking the game well and truly away from their hosts.
Cardiff was tearing the home side apart with some precise crisp passing and attacking while it saw the home side left chasing shadows for the majority of the time and had certain players in the Huskies side playing superbly and running the Phoenix players ragged. If the visitors passing and attacks could be referred to as smooth as an Aston Martin, then the Phoenix would have to be the equivalent of an old banger.
Cardiff’s movement and speed was very much key to their fourth goal, after it led to a lovely flowing Huskies move and was finished off by an Alex Weaver strike, with Russell Wiley getting the assist at 19.10. Manchester finally got on the scoreboard at 22.43, when Karl Nicholson assisted Anthony Booth to where Booth put it past Han O’Connor to end the Huskies shutout hopes and give their fans something to cheer.
Phoenix was to be tortured even more by Stephens as the Welshman was all over the ice and didn’t let up once in the game, to which he nearly bagged himself a hat trick but Steve Midghall was yet again equal to him and made a good save off him. Stephens though wasn`t going to be denied twice and saw him bury his effort in the back of the Manchester net at 27.35 to complete his hat trick and move the score line to 5-1 for the Huskies and the score made grim reading for a sorry Phoenix side.
Play moved into the third and final period of the match to which the Huskies still continued to dominate play and created more chance in the process. Manchester seemed to be in a damaged limitations exercise where the hosts were just unable to get anything going at all against a very well drilled and speedy Cardiff outfit.
Cardiff looked in search for more goals and at 35.26 they netted goal number six through Nathan Stephens fourth of the game, to see the visitors adding to their advantage. Play got far more chippy towards the end of the match with some hits coming in with a touch of frustration playing a hand in them too.
Both sides decided to continue on with their arguments and heated discussions and saw handbags moments later with a couple of punches thrown in the scrum. The result was both teams losing a man for two minutes over the incident with Karl Nicholson from Manchester and Andy Swinfen from Cardiff, both sitting it out on the naughty step for roughing.
The Huskies completed the scoring in the final five seconds of the game and of course it had to come from Nathan Stephens where the forward grabbed his fifth goal of the game and seventh for the visitors. The result was a thrashing for the Phoenix but saw a near complete and terrific performance by the away side from South Wales.
Manchester will look to draw a line under this game and move onto their next game in the league, where they`ll look to bounce back against a tough Kingston Kestrels team and get back to winning ways.
MAN OF THE MATCH: STEVE Midghall – Manchester Phoenix
Shots on Goal:
Steve Midghall – Phoenix faced 31
Han O’Connor – Huskies faced 6