Phoenix go top after super victory

Manchester Phoenix 6 Guildford Flames 0

Phoenix scorers: Robin Kovar 2, Luke Boothroyd, James Archer, Michal Psurny and Robert Schnabel

MANCHESTER Phoenix soared to the top of the league with a systematic demolition of current champions Guildford Flames.

Both teams had injury problems going into the game with Flames icing 13 out skaters and 2 netminders and Phoenix having just one more out skater.

The first period started off as a cagey affair with both teams measuring each other. Phoenix had the puck in the net early on but referee Liptrott had already blown play dead as he lost sight of the puck. The period ended with neither team finding a way past two excellent netminders and despite Phoenix outshooting their opponents 15-7 the score remained even at 0-0.

Phoenix opened the scoring after with a power play goal. With Milos Melicharek sitting out a two minute minor penalty for tripping, Phoenix took full advantage as Michal Psurny found Tony Hand, who sent a sweet pass across the front edge of the crease to the waiting Luke Boothroyd, who made no mistake to put the home side in the lead.

The advantage was doubled three minutes later with a Michal Psurny goal, assisted by Tony Hand and James Neil.

With the clock running down towards the second break, the large home crowd was treated to a candidate for goal of the season.

Robert Schnabel played the puck down the left wing towards Robin Kovar and the popular Czech forward held off a chasing Flame player and cut inside.

A neat one- two movement totally bamboozled Mark Lee and sent the puck high into the net for 3-0. Assists went to Robert Schnabel and Tony Hand.

End of the second period and the large crowd stood to a man to applaud Phoenix off the ice.

The home side continued their domination into the third period but Flames still looked a potent outfit in places and Stephen Fone had to be alert to keep them from pulling a goal back.

Flames were penalised for an icing infraction and Phoenix took just six seconds to make it 4-0. James Archer was the scorer, assisted by Tony Hand and Luke Boothroyd.

Just over a minute later, a demoralised Flames side gave up a fifth goal as Robin Kovar netted his second of the night, this time assisted by Robert Schnabel.

The rout was complete when Schnabel hit a scorcher into the net, assisted by Michal Psurny and Tony Hand.

The near sell-out crowd rose as one to applaud Phoenix after one of their best performances of the season. Stephen Fone picked up the Phoenix man of the match award for his shut out and Branislav Kvetan took the beers for Guildford.

A delighted coach Tony Hand said after the game: “This was an important game for us and the team took their goals well. Guildford are a top team and although short benched, they looked dangerous.

“I thought we dominated the second period and moving top of the league going into the festive break is good for the team. I would also like to thank the Flames team and organisation for their understanding during the charity ball toss after our first goal. Have a good Christmas everybody and see you next week at home to Peterborough.”

The next Phoenix game is at the Dome next Sunday, December 29 against the Peterborough Phantoms with the usual face off at 5.30pm.

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