KINGSTON KESTRELS 0 – 4 MANCHESTER PHOENIX
Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey team recorded one of their most stunning victories in their history, with a 4-0 win at the Hull Ice Arena against one of the powerhouses of British Sledge Hockey in the Kingston Kestrels. Just 14 days earlier the two sides had faced off at the same venue when Manchester was forced to play their ‘home game’ in Hull and saw an entertaining 2-2 draw on that occasion.
Roll on a fortnight later and Kingston were a team in form, as they had beaten their title rivals the Peterborough Phantoms 4-0 in their opponents back yard. Meanwhile, the Phoenix were smarting from a heavy loss down in South Wales against Cardiff and so were hoping to try and get their season back on track. Manchester went into the contest still lacking bodies and had only five out-skaters and was still missing their first choice netminder in Steve Midghall, who was still not fit and so Doug Hankinson was back between the pipes.
The game was played in tricky conditions, with fog causing problems on the ice and played it’s part throughout which caused some errors on both sides. Both teams managed to get three shots on target in the opening period, but Manchester had a 100% success rate with converting their chances as they lead 3-0 at the break. The first goal came in the 8th minute to break the deadlock, after Captain Karl Nicholson made it 1-0 with the assist going to Rob Allen. With just over a minute of the restart, it saw Dominic Cosgrove firing in a one- time shot for 2-0 lead Karl Nicholson and Anthony Booth assisting.
Kingston almost hit back in the game, but the defensive duo of Nicholson and Graham Wilson saw them sweeping up the loose pucks and also had Doug Hankinson in fine form to keep the puck out of the net when called upon. With just over 2 minutes left on the period it saw Rob Allen taking a great pass from Anthony Booth and he slotted home to make it 3-0 and have the away side on top.
At the start of the second, it saw the Phoenix in penalty trouble early after Booth took a T-bone penalty and gave the hosts a power play. With Kingston unable to make the most of their extra man advantage, it saw the Phoenix defence showing that they were able to limit the scoring chances of their opponents. Manchester then had a power play of their own and saw the Kingston netminder down at the other end in Houliston, pulling off some amazing saves to keep the visitors out. Phoenix out-shot their hosts in the second period, with Houliston facing 9 shots and Gibson who replaced him midway through the period, saving just the one.
Manchester was then awarded another opportunity on the power play, this time after a T-bone penalty was given against Fitzgerald and that saw the Phoenix piling the pressure on the Kestrels back line and saw the home side snuffing out the visitors chances. With Kingston getting back to even strength, it then saw Anthony Booth firing in goal number 4 for the visiting side and put the game pretty much to bed. The Kestrels upped their physical play a bit more, as they looked to wear down the Phoenix and find a way to breaching the visitors defences. Sadly for the home team, they were unable to make any head way and so saw victory for the short-benched Manchester Phoenix and finally end the Indian sign that Kestrels had over in the league.
After the game Coach Peter Hagan was full of praise for the team “Our last game didn’t really go how we would have liked in a lot of areas, but credit to the team, they got to work, they held themselves accountable and a few things were discussed to sort things out. They wanted to put things right and really came to play today, everyone was focussed. Kingston are always hard to play so we are delighted with the result, and it shows how competitive the league is, with no easy games. A great result, but we will be working hard ready to go for our next game and try finish the season as well as we can.”
Phoenix face the Cardiff Huskies in a return fixture at the Flyde Ice Rink this upcoming Saturday Evening as the Phoenix hoping to pick up as many points as possibly with the season drawing to a close.