Manchester Phoenix had a mixed weekend in the English Premier League this weekend, beating Peterborough Phantoms 7-5 before losing 4-1 to Telford Tigers yesterday.
Doubles from the in-form duo of Andy McKinney and Robert Schnabel, and single goals from Joachim Flaten, James Archer and Ciaran Long helped Phoenix secure an impressive eighth successive home win on Saturday.
Import signing Flaten opened the score with the first attack of the game, and Phoenix led after just 27 seconds.
By the end of the second period, Phoenix were cruising at 5-1 and the points seemed safe. However, Phantoms got back into the game in the third, at one stage reducing the arrears to 6-5.
James Archer’s goal in the final minute killed off the unlikely fight back but Phoenix will be wary of how Peterborough were able to get themselves back in the game.
Netminder Steve Fone said: “We let slip in the third period. They are gaining quite a reputation for being a comeback team at the moment.
We showed that we can really blow teams away with how we played but if we let our foot off the gas in the third period like that again, this game shows what could happen.”
A day later, Phoenix travelled to bottom club Telford Tigers looking to strengthen their position at the top of the EPL but fell to a surprise 4-1 defeat.
Unlike the free-scoring game 24 hours earlier, it took Phoenix until the third period to score – through ex-Tiger Scott McKenzie, who joined Manchester in the summer – but by this time, Tigers were 3-0 up and well on course for victory.
Fone said: “It wasn’t our best game yesterday. Telford always step it up a level against us. We didn’t score early on, and I think if we had the game would’ve turned out differently.
Even though they are bottom of the league, if you look at their results they have been pushing teams close all season.
There are no weekends when you look and can see guaranteed points this season. Every team can beat everyone else - the league is so close this year.”
Phoenix were without the familiar figure of Coach Tony Hand this weekend – he was in Japan leading Great Britain to within one qualifying round of reaching the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
“It was a bit different not having Tony on the bench this weekend. We had a few games like that last season when he was injured.
We are all professionals and know we have jobs to do. It didn’t go right for us against Telford, but as Basingstoke lost as well, we haven’t lost any ground though obviously it would have been better for us to win,” said Fone.
Phoenix are now second in the league to Basingtoke on goal difference. They both have 25 points, with third place Milton Keynes Lighting four points behind.
Basingstoke lost their game to reigning champions Guildford Flames, who sit fourth.
This weekend Phoenix travel to Lightning on Saturday before hosting Swindon Wildcats at the Altrincham Ice Dome on Sunday night (5.30pm). Tickets are available via www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk
Keep your eyes on Mancunian Matters for a weekend preview of both games later in the week.
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