Phoenix win tough encounter at Peterborough

Peterborough Phantoms 2 Manchester Phoenix 3

Phoenix scorers: Andy McKinney 2, James Archer (penalty shot winner)

J DAVIDSON-sponsored Manchester Phoenix travelled to Peterborough on Saturday for a vital League and Cup match against the local Phantoms.

Fresh from nearly two weeks off, Phoenix were at full strength for the game that would decide who they would play in the cup semi-finals as well as two league points.

Phoenix did not show any rustiness after their break as they took the lead after just 42 seconds. Great combination play as Robin Kovar found Frankie Bakrlik who passed to Andy McKinney in front of goal and the latter sent the puck into the net.

Phantoms are a tough team at home and they slowly got themselves back into the game and deservedly equalised with a goal from Erik Piatak. Robert Ferrara found new signing Darius Pliskauskas who sent Piatak in on Stephen Fone and he scored after decking the Manchester custodian.

The period continued with end to end play and both netminders had to be sharp to keep the scoreline level.

The home crowd as silenced with a superb goal for Phoenix.

Frankie Bakrlik sent Robin Kovar off on a mazy skate from the half way line. Having made the space, Kovar sent the perfect pass to Andy McKinney to bag his, and the team’s, second of the night. End of the first period 2-1 to Phoenix.

The second period was six minutes old when Peterborough hit their second equaliser of the evening. Piatak was in the right place at the right time to fire the puck past Fone.

Four minutes later, Phoenix suffered a major blow when Frankie Bakrlik limped off with what looked like a knee injury.

The game kicked off after 34 minutes when the referee dished out 10 minute misconduct penalties to Greg Pick and Joe Graham and followed that up with a 10 minute misconduct to Andy McKinney. This all started when James Archer hit a Phantom’s player into the boards for a two minute boarding call.

There was no further action in the period and the teams went to the locker room even at 2-2.

Peterborough took the game to Phoenix in the third period and Stephen Fone made a number of outstanding saves to keep the score level. At the other end, Damian King also had to be alert to deny Michal Psurny. The period ended without the scorekeeper being troubled and the game went into overtime.

Into 4 on 4 overtime with Phantoms creating the better of the chances and Phoenix refusing to buckle under the pressure. James Archer received a perplexing two minute penalty for elbows with two minutes left on the clock. However, Phoenix showed their class by holding on to the puck, thus denying Phantoms any chance of pulling their netminder for the extra man. No goals and the dreaded penalty shot rule came into place First up for Peterborough was two goal hero Erik Piatak. Stephen Fone stood his ground and denied the big forward. Robin Kovar took Phoenix’s first shot but the puck nestled comfortably in Damian King’s chest for the save. Luke Ferrara was next up for Phantoms but he fanned on his shot and Fone gathered the puck.

James Archer, penalty shot hero at the play-offs last April, stepped on to the ice for the second Phoenix penalty. In his usual style, James meandered wide left and cut across the netminder and found the gap to send the puck high into the net to give the visitors the lead. Peterborough new boy Darius Pliskauskas had the extra pressure of having to score to keep his team in the game, but Fone was up to the task and blocked the shot to give Phoenix the extra point.

Coach Hand said: “I am very pleased with the lads tonight; they gave their all for the cause. Losing Frankie was a big blow but everybody knuckled down to their responsibilities.

“There were a few mystifying calls from the officials in the second period that completely baffled me but we did not let it affect us. Stephen Fone was great and did a good job on the penalty shots.

“It was good to get the points after our break and a nice bonus to gain home advantage in the cup knockout stages.”

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