Manchester Phoenix 2 – 4 Cardiff Huskies
The Manchester Phoenix home roadshow season took them to the confines of the Fylde Coast Ice Arena just outside of Blackpool for their penultimate game of the season, as they took to the Third ‘home’ Ice of the season. Their opponents were the Cardiff Huskies and a team having a good season by all accounts and chasing the league title still, as they still stand a chance of denying Peterborough a fourth successive championship victory.The Huskies were bolstered by a couple of Great British Internationals that had made the move from Peterborough last season in Tyler Christopher and Jon Le Gallodec, as they swapped East Anglia to Welsh Valleys.
Both teams started brightly in the match and saw some physical play too boot, as the opening minutes were quick paced. Cardiff’s Ty Christopher saw him testing the debutant between the pipes for the Phoenix in Darren Pomfrett, as the Manchester goalie made a big glove save to stop the visitors from taking an early lead in the contest.Pomfrett was then called upon once again for the home side, after a deflected shot came back off defenceman Graham Wilson and saw the netminder making a quick reaction save to keep it scoreless still.
Cardiff were the aggressors early on in the game and saw Christopher having another chance, when the forward was first to a loose puck with Wilson and went on 1on1 with Pomfrett but it was the goalie with an important low glove save to deny the GB man. Manchester who were playing brilliantly defensively, then saw them taking a lead very much against the run of play as Karl Nicholson chased down a loose puck in his own zone and saw the Phoenix captain fending off two Huskies players before roofing the puck high passed Alex Weaver at 11:10. Anthony Booth then doubled the lead at 14:40 for the home side, when Rob Allen’s long clearing pass along the boards was collected by Booth and his effort was partly dealt with by the Cardiff goalie, but the shot just had enough pace on it to see the puck going in to see the Phoenix 2 up at the break.
A slight wardrobe malfunction of sorts before the second period saw Phoenix goalie Darren Pomfrett having an issue with his pads and was replaced by Doug Hankinson until he got sorted. Cardiff came out strong at the start of the second period and brought an early save out of Hankinson as the visitors were dominating play early on. Manchester then wasted a great opportunity to make it 3-0 when Nicholson skated into the Huskies zone and found Booth, but the forward mis-hit his shot but manage to regather it back and have his second effort saved fantastically by Alex Weaver from point blank range.
It seemed just a matter of time before the Welsh side would eventually net after all their pressure on the hosts, so when Ty Christopher gained the zone and skated behind the Manchester net, he spotted the movement of Lloyd Woodyatt and played a quick pass for him to tap in for 2-1 at 22:15. Goals for Cardiff were much like buses, as when one turned up a second one came right after. It saw a breakout pass evading most of the Phoenix players and that helped set up a 2 on 1 for the visitors as Woodyatt and Christopher once again linked up and saw the latter scoring for Cardiff, with Hankinson left hung out to dry by his side at 22:50.
With the Manchester coach Pete Hagan clearly not impressed with his defence for their second goal they conceded, it saw him sending Pomfrett back out in the game after his pads issue had been sorted. The change saw their fortunes turning a bit with Rob Allen stopping a clearance from leaving the Cardiff zone, and then fired a shot on goal but was comfortable taken by the goalies glove. Nicholson went desperately close for the hosts with a long range effort, as he then tried to score from the rebound and was blocked by Tyler Christopher as play quickly went down the other end and saw a point blank save from Pomfrett to see both teams having chances.
The Manchester coach was clearly unhappy with the go-ahead goal that gave the Huskies the lead, as coach Hagan clearly felt that it was offside in the lead up. It all came from a Cardiff break and some poor mishandling from the Phoenix side that led to a 2 on 1 for the away side, with Andy Swinfen firing an effort and getting blocked but was quick to convert from the rebound and put the South Wales side 3-2 up.
Manchester players start inquest to 2nd period
The Manchester players during the second break will have had time to reflect on some sloppy plays that led to them conceding a couple of the goals and had a period to make amends. However a freak goal at the start of the final period saw 4th goal being shipped by Phoenix. Play restarted with Lloyd Woodyatt winning the puck and playing it back to Paul Furber, who then just tried a long range shot on goal and saw the puck going straight in and will be one goal that Pomfrett will certainly want back in the Manchester nets.
Karl Nicholson then found himself in the Cardiff zone and managed to thread a ‘eye of the needle’ pass between two Cardiff players and in towards the path of 3 three Manchester forwards who completely missed the pass, as the Phoenix players were almost stunned that the pass made it towards them in the first place. Tyler Christopher then drove into the Phoenix zone with speed and useful stickhandling that saw him bamboozle a couple of Manchester players, but when the forward went to shoot he was stopped by Nicholson right in the nick of time. With a few minutes left to play in the game, it saw a timeout taken by Manchester as they looked to plan one last push in the game. Manchester tried to find a goal to set up a tense finale, but the visitors held on for three league points and closed the gap on Peterborough.
MAN of The Match : Rob Allen for Manchester , Ty Christopher for Cardiff
After the game Coach Hagan said “We played well for the most part, but few lapses in concentration let us down, we played so well at times and really gave them a scare. But it just wasn’t to be, and Cardiff showed why they are fighting for the title with Peterborough.
We have one last league game against Sheffield on Sunday 17th July here at Fylde, so we aim to finish on a winning note.
On the bright side it’s great to get another player making his debut, and he really did well. So a few things to work on in practice, and as long as we learn from games like this, sometimes these losses can be a good thing in the long run.