Manchester Phoenix 2 – 2 Peterborough Phantoms
An absolutely absorbing game in the British Sledge Hockey League saw the Manchester Phoenix and reigning league champions in Peterborough Phantoms, playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw with a hint of controversy thrown in to boot.
Both sides came into the contest looking to win for different reasons. Victory for Phoenix would see them go level on points with the league leaders and if the Phantoms took the win, it would see them stretching their lead to four points at the top of the Sledge Hockey table. From the off it saw the double winners in the Phantoms showing just why they are the current reigning champions, as they started the better of the two sides with a couple of early chances falling their way, but was continually denied by the man of the Match for Manchester in netminder Steve Midghall.
The hosts managed to force their way back into the match thanks to their their defense thwarting their opposition and seeing some attacks starting to happen, but in truth had both sides defences very much on top and had neither team giving up any easy chances for their opponents. Peterborough then found themselves getting behind the Phoenix defence, as they broke away on a very rare sight of a 4 on 0 attack, but a misplaced pass saw the move come to nothing. Phoenix netminder Steve Midghall was at it again soon after, as he managed to pluck the puck from thin air to see the scoreboard remaining scoreless.
Then at 7.41 into this fast paced contest, the home side scored against the run of play with Phoenix forward Karl Nicholson. It all came from a cut out a pass by Nicholson in his own zone and after Rob Allen played it back to Nicholson, he played it off the sideboards to see the Phoenix man dashing up ice and putting it in with a neat finish by Robin Gaze for 1-0.
A bizarre occurrence saw the opening period overrun by an extra 45 seconds, and saw the Phoenix having to defend very well at the end of the period. In the second period of play, it saw both teams trying to get a foothold in the game with neither side really grabbing a hold of the game and being a pretty even defensive battle. Manchester then caused problems in the Phantoms zone and had Nicholson nearly making it two as his effort struck the pipework to see the visitors breathe a sigh of relief.
Peterborough’s Darren Brown collected a Teeing penalty at 24.01 as a hit on Karl Nicholson saw referee Kris Wells deem it a penalty and gave the Phoenix a short lived power play, as Pat Bailey then picked up a Boarding call 17 seconds later which cancelled out the man advantage. Midghall then made an absolutely stunning save from Phantoms forward Ty Christopher to see him frustrating the visitors as they were pushing hard for a tying goal. In the final embers of the period it saw Midghall yet again taking the applause from those in attendance, with a save to deny the visitors in what looked like a almost certain goal and had the Phantoms bench jumping in what they thought was a goal too.
Moving to the final period and it saw the game played in two sections, the first half was a tight contest and second half was a free for all. From the rarity of a 4 on 1 in the first period we then saw an entire line on a 5 on 1, but saw Graham Wilson making a last ditch stop and stopped the Phantoms getting back on level terms.
Eventually the pressure and saves from Midghall couldn’t continue and saw Ty Christopher scoring with a nice effort that saw the helmet of Steve Midghall come off during the tying goal of the game for the Phantoms. Darren Brown picked up his first of two assists in the game as the Christopher goal came at 35.41 and saw Peterborough moving up a gear and which nearly brought them a go ahead goal, but again the Phoenix defence came up huge.
Manchester then retook the lead less than two minutes later, when Anthony Booth moved in on goal and saw a push on him at the front of the net which had him bump into the Phantoms netminder Robin Gaze during play and with the play seemingly at an end, the referee gave a goal as he saw the puck over the line. This led to angry protests from the visitors, after they claimed the goaltender had it covered prior to a whistle.
Peterborough channelled their anger and hit back a couple of minutes later themselves, through Kieran O’ Meara as when Steve Midghall was stranded on the ice and with the smallest of gaps at the back post, it gave O’Meara the chance to put in and peg the Phoenix back at 2-2.
As the game neared the end, both teams had to kill off respective penalties, as Pat Bailey was called for Teing and then Callum Shakespeare was penalised for same offense. Both teams had chances to win the game and had neither side wanted to give up any goal scoring opportunities to their opponents in the dying moments. This was a truly seesaw matchup, in which had play going one way and then the other and so when the horn blew to signal the end, it had both teams shattered from giving every bit of energy they had in an absorbing and entertaining match from start to finish.
After the match Ty Christopher and Darren Brown were both given ten minutes each, one for misconduct and another for unsportsmanlike conduct. Both sides will look to recover quickly ahead of the return fixture down in Peterborough’s barn next weekend, where they will renew acquaintances.
MVP Match Award for Phantoms forward No.9 Tyler Christopher, presented by Karlos Nicholson.