By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent
Manchester Phoenix’s hopes of retaining their EPL title are still intact thanks to captain Luke Boothroyd’s fortunate overtime winner last night against Swindon Wildcats.
Phoenix beat the visitors 6-5 at the Ice Dome but suffered a 6-3 reverse against the same opposition on Saturday.
League leaders Guildford Flames are 8 points ahead of Phoenix with 8 games left to play, and the Altrincham based club realistically need to rely on other teams beating Flames to stand a chance of catching them.
Wildcats’ performance belied the near 20-point gap between the teams and Phoenix were at serious risk of suffering a pointless weekend.
Boothroyd’s winner – his second in three games after not scoring all season – followed goals from Tom Duggan, James Archer, Stephen Wallace and a Jaroslav Spelda double.
Boothroyd’s winner travelled along three quarters of the ice from a speculative shot, bouncing over visiting netminder Dean Skinns’ glove to secure victory in an unlikely manner.
Credit must go to Phoenix who never gave up, having gone behind three times to take the game to overtime – thanks largely to import Spelda, who hit his brace with his side 5-3 down.
Phoenix player coach Tony Hand – back from a three month injury lay off yesterday – admitted his side need to improve in future games.
He said: We were off the pace this weekend and we were punished. We needed a big slice of luck to take the points from this game and we got it, but we can’t rely on that”
Despite a man of the match performance from Duggan, in which he scored a goal, Wildcats won comfortably on Saturday afternoon.
Goals from Ladzi Harabin and Martin Cingel weren’t enough to stop Swindon recording a second victory over Phoenix this season.
Slava Koulikov missed both games through injury, whilst Ryan Johnson missed the away game due to suspension.
This weekend sees Phoenix take on bottom of the table Telford Tigers in another double header. The home tie is on Saturday night at 7pm at the Ice Dome. Tickets are available at the rink or via www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk
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