By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent
Manchester Phoenix's mixed start to the Engligh Premier League season continued this weekend, with the Altrincham based club again winning one game and losing the other.
After suffering a heavy 8-2 away defeat at Milton Keynes Lightning on Saturday, Phoenix recovered to defeat Telford Tigers 3-1 at the Altrincham Ice Dome yesterday.
The weekend's results see Phoenix lie fifth in the table having won two and lost two of their opening fixtures. Reigning champions Guildford Flames and Slough Jets are joint top, both boasting a 100 per cent record after three games each.
Phoenix were chasing the game against Lightning from the start with the home side 3-0 up in 13 minutes, thanks to Leigh Jamieson and an Adam Calder double.
Robert Schnabel's first goal for the club gave Phoenix some hope going into the second but within minutes Lightning had scored three more - two from Jamieson, one from Adam Carr - to lead 6-1 at the halfway stage.
A brawl broke out between the two sides, after Richard Bentham made his Lightning opposite number aware he was far from pleased with him raising his stick.
Team-mates Andy McKinney and Ben Wood got involved, with Wood being pulled to the ice by Chris Wiggins. Six players served penalties for roughing for their role in the melee.
Captain Luke Boothroyd opened his account for the season in the third period, but goals from Blaz Emersic and Grant McPherson sealed an emphatic win for Lightning.
Coach Tony Hand said: We were heavily punished tonight for some mistakes but there are still some positives to take from the game. We outshot them by a considerable margin but must find a way to make the chances count."
Phoenix returned to Manchester for Sunday's game licking their wounds after Saturday's crushing defeat and were rewarded with a hard-fought victory over Telford Tigers.
Once again, Phoenix could not make the most of numerous opportunities to open the scoring, with import signings Joachim Flaten and Michal Psurny both denied by Tigers netminder Declan Ryan.
Player of the Year Tom Duggan suffered a shoulder injury in the first period which ruled him out of the rest of the game. He joins new signing Liam Chong on the sidelines.
It took until past halfway for the deadlock to be broken, and Coach Hand - on the ice despite not wanting to play as much this season - provided Flaten with the assist he needed to open the scoring.
Psurny smashed in Phoenix's second but any thoughts of a late rout were cut short by Luke Brittle's goal for Tigers on the powerplay, as Bentham sat out a two minute penalty.
Despite pushing for an equaliser, Tigers could not do it and Flaten's second of the game with less than a minute to go gave Phoenix a morale-boosting victory ahead of next weekend's games.
They travel across the Pennines to face Sheffield Steeldogs on Friday night, in the first War of the Roses clash of the EPL season.
Phoenix will be looking for revenge following their loss in the annual pre-season friendly games between the two sides.
On Sunday night, Phoenix host Swindon Wildcats for the first time this season. Wildcats were Phoenix's opponents on the first day of the season, and Manchester came home with an overtime victory under their belts.
Sunday's game starts at the usual time of 5.30. Tickets are available at www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk
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Photo credit: Richard Allan