MANCHESTER PHOENIX 9 – 0 SHEFFIELD STEELKINGS
This past Saturday saw the War of the Roses taking place on the Sledge as it seen the first ever competitive game between the two sides despite them meeting in friendly matches in the past. With the teams meeting twice in a row in successive weekends it saw the Phoenix drawing first blood over their Yorkshire rivals with a 9-0 win at the Altrincham Ice Dome in a tough game despite what the score line says.
Manchester welcomed back Steve Midghall to the starting line up after the netminder was missing against Kingston with a shoulder injury. An interesting side note to the game too was it was a family occasion too with the battle of the Oakley’s as John and Jake of the Sheffield Steelkings faced off against their fellow family member in Els who was on the Phoenix side.
It saw the hosts dominate the play in the game and take an early lead when the Karl Nicholson got on the score sheet at 1.44 to give the home side the 1-0 lead. Sheffield did well to combat to an energetic Phoenix side and saw them holding the hosts to a one goal lead with the Steelkings doing a good job. Rob Allen then made it 2-0 at 3.56 after the forward scored with a tip in at the front of the Sheffield net after Anthony Booth picked up his second assist of the game as the Phoenix started to move up a gear.
Phoenix upped their play with every passing attack and grew in confidence with their opponents being pulled out of position and also losing shape which caused chaos in the Steelkings zone. Sheffield then had a rare chance as Caroline Bonner brought out a save from netminder Steve Midghall to see him deny the White Rose side a goal. Pat Bailey then put in goal three at 7.23 after Hackworth made a good stop from Bailey initially, but Bailey followed it up to put home and seen the hosts opening up a commanding lead.
With Sheffield struggling to get much in the way of attacking efforts it did see them having flashes of good play as they tried to go forward but the Phoenix defence was just on top of them to snuff the play out before it could turn into something better. Manchester scored their fourth unanswered goal in the match through Karl Nicholson after the Phoenix man fired his shot and found the top far corner for a stunning goal.
Steelkings netminder Bryan Hackworth was called upon yet again for the opponents as he made a couple of brilliant save to deny their opponents having an even bigger score in the game. As you would expect with a meeting between Lancashire and Yorkshire it saw some heavy hits come in by both sides as Barry Grayson gave some good hits on Phoenix players and saw the home side give it right back.
Nicholson then scored his hat trick goal as the score moved to 5-0 for the hosts in the opening period and was a deserved lead as it was predominately one way traffic in the period. We then got our first meeting of the game of the Oakley’s battling with sibling rivalry in Brother and Sister facing off minutes before the end of the first.
In to the second and it nearly saw a first goal for Els Oakley as the Phoenix player found herself at the front of the net and had a couple of chances with Bryan Hackworth making a double save off her to see the score line remind at 5-0 and if it had gone in then her opposition on the other side would not have heard the last of it. Anthony Booth then netted goal six for Phoenix at 19.04 as the puck came to him at the side of the net and he managed to just flip it high past the netminder to extend their lead. Phoenix thought they had scored soon after but had it waved off by the referee as he thought it was put in with a hand.
Sheffield then started to make head way in the game as they managed to filter into the Phoenix zone and had a half chance through David Hall but he managed to drag his shot wide of the target but let Manchester know that they hadn`t given up in the game. Dominic Cosgrove then made it seven with a poacher’s type of goal timed at 24.43 as the puck fell to Cosgrove from a rebound and the Phoenix man who as grafted with not much success this season saw him score a well deserved goal.
Seven became eight at 28.00 when Karl Nicholson’s shot was saved by Hackworth in goals but a clearance near the front of the goals by the Steelkings had the puck bounce unluckily off Hall’s stick and into the net for another goal in the Phoenix column. With two periods of play gone and the scoreboard reading 8-0 to the home side you would be forgiven for thinking that the losing side would just try to shore up at the back and avoid conceding more, but instead saw them having a real good go at start of the third.
Sheffield came out and camped in the Manchester end for a couple of minutes and had the hosts in a bit of a panic as they failed to clear their lines and brought another save out of Steve Midghall in the Phoenix nets from David Hall and had David Scivill looking for the rebound. Sheffield seemed to gain confidence and when Anthony Booth served a two minute call for Boarding and saw the Steelkings given a great opportunity of pulling one back.
Instead though it saw Nicholson break away up and fire a shot on goal but Hackworth was more alert and kept it out. Pat Bailey then scored the goal of the game at 36.21 when the Manchester man picked up the puck to the left side of the Sheffield goal and with a flick of the wrist saw the puck fly over past the goaltender from a tight angle and beat the Sheffield goalie all hands down. Els Oakley had another chance to grab her first sledge goal and once again it was the netminder to rescue.
The horn sound to bring the curtain down on the game and saw the Lancashire side earn the bragging rights this weekend and will have both sides renew this new rivalry next weekend at Ice Sheffield when the Phoenix travel over the Pennines.