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8th November 2008
|Referee: D Smith|
|Match complete||Manchester Phoenix|
|2 : 1 : 4 = 7||Goals||1 : 2 : 0 = 3|
|12 : 11 : 22 = 45||Shots||12 : 19 : 12 = 43|
|2 : 16 : 72 = 90||Penalties in Minutes||4 : 2 : 50 = 56|
Sheffield Steelers 7-3 Manchester Phoenix
Sheffield missing Ashley Tait, Jonathan Phillips, Jason Hewitt and Robert Dowd whilst Manchester were without Tony Hand and golie Stehen Murphy, all with the GB team in Sarnok, Poland.
3533 saw Sheffield record their first win over their Roses rivals at the third attempt thanks to a pair of goals early in the final session, though the visitors were unfortunate to lose Bruce Mulherin who crashed into the boards setting up the opening goal after just 69 seconds. Mulherin burst up the right and found Nathan Ward arriving at the back post to force home. Brad Cruickshank opened his account with a bullet from the right (2:14) and Joey Talbot stole the lead close-in (19:04) from Rod Sarich's pass from behind the net.
The visitors' powerplay edged them ahead, David Beauregard whipping home a wicked deflection (30:47) with Kenton Smith roofing a rebound (33:48) from Brett Clouthier's shot. Another late leveller as Doug Sheppard potted on the doorstep (38:00) from another Sarich pass from behind the net.
The final session opened with Ryan Finnerty blasting home first-time (40:30) after Scott Basiuk's shot had been turned aside and Cruickshank buried his second from 10 feet (42:18) to put the home side in charge at last. A pair of late goals made the game safe, Jeff Legue couldn't miss at the back door after a slick passing move drew the goalie out of position (58:15) and Ryan Finnerty's opportunist shot from the edge of the area (59:21) rounded out the scoring.
But in between those 2 goals, Andrew Sharp went toe-to-toe with ex-Steeler Brett Clouthier, but not for long as Clouthier made short work of Sharp. However as he continued to rain punches with Sharp on the floor and the linesmen apparently reluctant to intervene, Brad Cruickshank stepped in with Lucas Burnett joining him. All 4 players recieved 5 + game fighting penalties with Cruickshank given an extra game misconduct for third man in.
The sides meet up again in Altrincham tomorrow night and Manchester's potent attack will need to find more defensive discipline to protect their stand-in keeper Adam Summerfield, who was woefully exposed at times and did well to keep the score down until the final period.
Phoenix impressed on their opening powerplay without finding the net whilst the home side pushed Sarich up front with 4 forwards missing. Finnerty and Cruickshank both saw shots turned aside before Burnett's shot was padded to Beauregard and Jody Lehman did well to keep out his first-timer from the left. Soon afterwards Kyle Bruce took a tripping penalty and after Summerfield padded behind Cruickshank's shot, Sarich collected the puck and found Talbot at the back post to level.
The first 5 minutes of the middle session belonged to Steelers but Phoenix came back and Lehman did well to freeze the loose puck in a scramble in front of his goal. Soon after Ward's shot from the edge of the zone was just padded aside by the unsighted Lehman. three minutes later Steve Munn took an interference penalty in his own end and after Lehman turned aside Alex Dunn's shot, he could do little about Smith's shot from the left which ricocheted to the far side and Beauregard first-timed the puck home.
Ex-Phoenix Basiuk took a needless cross-checking penalty behind his own net and on the powerplay, another pile-up in front of Lehman saw Munn and Burnett sitting Roughing penalties. Smith's screened shot was padded straight to Clouthier but he back-handed the chance wide. On the same play Clouthier's right wing shot was padded to Smith who made no mistake to edge Phoenix ahead once again. With Munn still in the penalty box at this stage Mark Thomas talked his way to a misconduct, leaving the home side short on defence.
However they responded by taking the game by the scruff of the neck and levelled when Sarich went on a mazey coast-to-coast skate down the right, passing behind the net to flip the puck out to Sheppard who squeezed it home.
Sheffield started the final period in the same vein and although Summerfield got a glove to Basiuk's ferocious shot from the left, the puck fell nicely for Finnerty for what proved to be the game-winning goal. From the face-off Talbot got in close but Summerfield padded the effort aside. But Steelers soon found the net again as Finnerty's fierce right wing shot was turned aside, only for Sheppard to pick up th puck and find Cruickshank in space and he made no mistake.
Legue kept forcing saves but Phoenix hadn't given up and Beauregard's wraparound at Lehman's left post needed a solid block. Ward's left wing shot produced a big rebound which the visitors were unable to capitalise on but Munn was heading for the box once again, this time for tripping. Phoenix were visibly tiring and struggling to produce the slick powerplays of earlier, but Burnett's left wing shot was only just kept out by Lehman.
However back at full strength Summerfield was the busier keeper and a great double save, as Cruickshank's left wing shot rebound to Finnerty in front, but the young goalie wasn't to be beaten.
He had no chance with Sheffield's sixth, Talbot finding Sarich low on the left who in turn found Legue at the back door for a slick goal. Finnerty made it seven from distance, his snap shot catching the keeper by surprise.
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