Manchester Phoenix 6-3 Bracknell Bees (Phoenix win 8-6 on agg)

Phoenix players with the Championship banner on Sunday - by Andrew Sobutta

Phoenix players with the Championship banner on Sunday - by Andrew Sobutta

First published in Sport

FRANTISEK Bakrlik blasted Manchester Phoenix past Bracknell on Sunday night to seal their place at the Coventry Playoff Finals weekend.

Phoenix, who went down 3-2 in a close battle in Berkshire on Saturday, returned home the following night to dispatch a tough Bees outfit who pushed the league champions all the way.

Bakrlik netted two goals and helped with another as he led Tony Hand’s side in a man of the match performance, but it took until past the midway point of the match for the home side to break through a resolute defensive show from the visitors.

Michal Psurny put Phoenix ahead and brought the teams level on aggregate with a neat breakaway finish before a powerplay bullet goal from Bakrlik put Manchester in front and Joe Graham roofed in their third of the night.

But with Bracknell suddenly needing goals they responded in the final period with Lukas Smital netting for the visitors early. This was quickly followed by goals at either end as the teams battled for a final four place in Coventry.

First Hand put Phoenix 4-1 up on the night before the Bees struck back via James Gallazi from close range. James Archer responded for Manchester with a powerplay goal with little over five minutes remaining but still the visitors came forward.

And they were rewarded with another goal from Pavel Strycek strike to bring the aggregate score to 7-6, but with the visitors hunting for the equalizing goal, Bakrlik sealed the win with another blast that left Bees netminder Alex Mettam with little chance.

Phoenix will now meet the Swindon Wildcats in the first playoff semi final match on Saturday in Coventry while the second semi final includes the Basingstoke Bison and the Guildford Flames.

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