By John Slater
This past Saturday saw the Bees back at The Hive for a Firewors Night home game at The Hive as they welcomed the Manchester Phoenix. Both teams went into the game at full strength as Netminders Alex Mettam, for the Bees, and Stephen Fone, for the Phoenix, started the match in the respective goals. Referee Dave Cloutman took charge of the match with Flynn Stitch-Cunningham & Donald Campbell on the lines.
The Bees made a good start to the game by taking initial control but end to end play ensued for the first few minutes. Marek Indra, for the visitors, came close but the Bees scrambled the puck away. Moments later Michael Stratford also tested Alex Mettam in the Bees net but the ‘keeper turned the chance away with his blocker. Krystof Kafan had a good chance immediately after but saw his shot go just wide of the post. The visiting Phoenix enjoy some possession and see a Joni Tuominen shot in from the blue line tipped over the net before a Robin Kovar effort is tipped away by Alex Mettam. Having cleared the zone the Bees apply pressure of their own to the Phoenix zone which pays off well as David Gaborcik picks up the puck just inside the blue line, creates some space and fires past Stephen Fone in the Manchester net for the Bees first goal unassisted at 7.11. Straight from the face off the Bees apply more pressure with Manchester’s Luke Boothroyd making a mistake which Kristof Kafan takes advantage of, he stumbles onto his knees but still manages a shot on net forcing Stephen Fone to cover the puck. The Bees net their second goal of the night only a couple of minutes later as Manchester lose possession of the puck, which Josh Smith picks up and clears to Luka Basic who in turn passes to Olegs Lascenko who returns the puck to Basic to finish even handed at 9.31. Chances are exchanged as Josh Smith shoots just wide of the net and Manchester’s Ben Wood shoots in from the blue line which Alex Mettam partially catches but the puck rebounds away for Scott Bailey to pick up and wheel round and shoot, Mettam again though is equal to the chance. From the resulting face off a mad scramble ensues in front of Mettam, a few shots in on target which are partially cleared and then in the melee the puck pings off the post and lands just behind Mettam who falls to the ice to cover the puck, Matt Foord collides with the net which comes off its moorings. The net result is a two minute delay of the game penalty to the Bees captain at 15.41. The Phoenix forward Roman Malinik makes the power play count only seconds later at the Phoenix first goal is pushed over the line at 16.12 with assists going to Robin Kovar & Edgars Bebris. In the dying seconds Josh Smith shoots the puck from just outside the blue line and the puck pings off the post.
The Bees start the second period as they did the first with the majority of the possession. An early chance sees Krystof Kafan picking up the puck skating down the middle of the ice, he passes to Alex Barker who shoots but Stephen Fone saves. Manchester’s new signing Vaclav Meidl picks up the puck heads into the Bees zone and goes around the boards to pass the puck out front of Mettam which is cleared away, Lukas Smital collects the puck and heads down the middle of the ice one and one on with Stephen Fone who manages to keep the puck out with his leg pad. More pressure from the home side sees Luka Basic trying to squeeze the puck past Fone at the corner post, but the netminders stick keeps the puck out. Some good passing between Luka Basic, Olegs Lascenko & Josh Smith keeps the Phoenix busy with Fone managing to keep the Bees from scoring further. Phoenix Coach Tony Hand calls a time out at 33.52. Both teams play out the second period with end to end play but few clear cut chances or incident.
The third period gets underway the way it ended in the second with lots of play and possession for the home side Bees. The early pressure pays off with David Gaborcik finding Josh Smith well who puts the puck past Stephen Fone for the Bees third goal at 47.36. The Bees couldn’t relax however as less than two minutes later Manchester pull themselves back into the game, at 49.15, with a Robin Kovar slap shot, this then sets up a really tense last ten minutes of the game. The visiting Phoenix pile on the pressure, with the Bees looking to break when possible. The home side however hang on, despite all the Phoenix can muster and the visitors removing Stephen Fone for an extra attacker in the dying seconds, to see out their first home win of the season. The man of the match awards went to Josh Smith for the home side Bees and to Edgars Bebris for the visiting Phoenix.
Period scores: 2-1; 0-0; 1-1
Bees scorers: Smith & Gaborcik 1+1; Basic 1+0; Lascenko 0+1
Phoenix scorers: Kovar 1+1; Malinik 1+0; Bebris 0+2 & Boothroyd 0+1
Bees PIMS: 4 (Foord & Kafan 2)
Phoenix PIMS: 2 (Bebris 2)
Shots on Bees (Mettam): 37 (17, 7, 13)
Shots on Phoenix (Fone): 27 (8, 12, 7)