Match report by Steve Merry
On Saturday night the Bees headed up to Blackpool to face the Manchester Phoenix in a regular season English Premier Ice Hockey League match. The Bees were again missing Lukas Smital (injury) whilst the Phoenix were missing Joni Tuominen. The Referee for this match was Pau Brooks and his linesman were Elliott Marshall and Nathan Ormond. Starting in net for the Bees was Matt Smital and for the Phoenix was Stephen Fone.
There were a number of exchanges in the first ten minutes and either team could have taken one of their chances but the netminders and defences stood firm. It was the home side Phoenix who struck first at 13:11 when James Neil shot home. A defensive error gifted the Phoenix their second goal when Edgars Bebris scored shorthanded, whilst Marek Indra sat for tripping, and after the Bees had some sustained pressure in the zone on the powerplay. The Bees managed to get themselves on the board at 16:33 when Carl Thompson scored for the Bees assisted Basic & Gabrocik. The Bees started to gain some momentum, the Phoenix had other ideas when Edgars Bebris netted his second of the evening at 17:12. The Bees tried again to find a way past Stephen Fone in the Phoenix net, but the period ended with no further goals.
The Bees came out for the second period looking to cut the deficit early and they did just that as they scored at 23:34 through Carl Thompson assisted Luka Basic and David Gabrocik. The Bees were on their way back into this game, but it was to be so different than things looked. After a light hit along the glass, the plexi smashed and the maintenance team at the rink needed over an hour to fix the damage and clear up the resulting mess. This inadvertently spoiled the Bees rhythm as they came back out trying to get back to the game in hand once again. The home side scored again at 26:57 as Edgars Bebris completed his natural hat-trick. The game had now turned in favour of the home team with Robin Kovar netting at 29:05 and on then on the powerplay at 33:25 through Marek Indra, whilst the Bees forward Krystof Kafan was sitting a minor for high sticks. This forced a changed of netminder for the Bees as Alex Mettam took over from Matt Smital between the pipes. The Bees manged to get a lucky bounce at 38:28 when Alex Barker broke free and scored assisted by Lukas Basic.
After a shorter than normal break, due to the plexi issue during the second period the Bees set out with a point to prove at the start of the final stanza. They mounted the pressure and got their reward at 46:45 when Luka Basic fired the puck into the Manchester net past Stephen Fone. Josh Smith then cut the deficit further at 49:35 to get the Bees within a single goal, assisted Martin Pavlicek. The Phoenix looked shaken and after a reshuffle of the Phoenix lines, they extended their lead again at 51:28 when Roman Malinik scored. The Bees attempted to cut the lead again when they pulled netminder Mettam for the extra attacker but despite the extra player it would be the Phoenix man of the match Edgars Bebris who scored into the empty for the Phoenix at 58:59, for his fourth goal of the evening, sealing the win for the home side Phoenix. The visiting Man of the Match award went to Bees forward Alex Barker.
Period scores: 3-1, 3-2, 2-2
Phoenix scorers: Bebris 4+2; Malanik 1+4; Kovar 1+3; Indra & Neil 1+0; Boothroyd 0+2; Stratford, Bailey, Langhammer & Wood 0+1
Bees scorers: Thompson 2+0; Basic 1+3; Barker 1+2; Smith 1+0; Galazzi & Pavlicek 0+1
Phoenix PIMS: 6 (Langhammer, Indra & Kovar 2)
Bees PIMS: 2 (Kafan 2)
Shots on Phoenix (Fone): 53 (19, 18, 16)
Shots on Bees (M.Smital & Mettam & Empty Net): 21 (12, 9, 0) & 9 (0, 3, 6) & 1 (0, 0, 1)