TONY Hand’s Manchester Phoenix showed the form of champions on Saturday night with a pulsating come from behind victory against last seasons champs Guildford.
Phoenix, who now top the EPL with only 4 games remaining, stormed back in the final period to snatch the points with red hot Frantisek Bakrlik netting a hat-trick.
However it was the visitors who led the match after the opening twenty minutes with a Martin Opatovsky strike as he left the penalty box and tucked the puck home.
Bakrlik drew the home side level on a 5 on 3 powerplay in the second period, but again the Flames struck straight from the penalty box as Andrew Hemmings put the puck under Steve Fone in the Manchester net.
Former Phoenix forward Marcus Kristofferson extended the visitors lead to 3-1 within a minute of the restart for the final period, but an excellent powerplay goal from Michal Psurny drew Phoenix within one.
But once again the Phoenix defence fell asleep and Kristofferson restored the Flames two goal cushion with the home side seemingly dead and buried.
But back to back goals in less the minute from Bakrlik brought Phoenix back from the dead, firstly another powerplay strike brought Hand’s side within one, then Andy McKinney fed Bakrlik alone in front and he picked his spot past a helpless Mark Lee in the visitors goal.
The come back was completed with a little over two minutes remaining when another 5 on 3 powerplay chance presented itself to the home side and Robin Kovar struck the winner.
Hand said after the match: “Huge result for us tonight. Credit to Guildford, they are a quality side and never gave up for 60 minutes. Our powerplay practice paid off tonight with 5 goals. We have had a tough schedule but the lads are digging in and putting in tremendous work to keep us in the running for the title.”