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5th January 2008
|Referee: M Hicks|
|Match complete||Manchester Phoenix|
|0 : 0 : 0 = 0||Goals||1 : 2 : 1 = 4|
|5 : 14 : 8 = 27||Shots||7 : 7 : 8 = 22|
|2 : 2 : 0 = 4||Penalties in Minutes||4 : 6 : 2 = 12|
Sheffield Steelers 0-4 Manchester Phoenix
Sheffield missing Ashley Tait (concussion)
3420 saw Manchester make it 9 wins in 11 games with an easy victory against a Sheffield side who have forgotten how to score goals. This was the second time Steelers' have been shut-out at home this season, and their second successive loss to Manchester.
With Scott Fankhouser producing point-blank stops from Doug Sheppard and Jason Hewitt, Phoenix helped themselves at the other end. Ex-Steeler Brett Clouthier picked up a long pass and swept left to net with ease (10:19), Joe Tallari swept up the left wing to fire home (30:26) and Brain Passmore killed the game 63 seconds later scoring from left of centre. The home side's misery was compounded when Rod Sarich was stripped of the puck by Sean Starke who stepped up to blast past Jody Lehman, again from the left wing.
The home side started brightly with Jeff Legue forcing a save and Sheppard's deflection on the doorstep being well saved by the impressive Scott Fankhouser.
Passmore tested Lehman at the other end but Starke took the first penalty of the game for hooking soon after. Randy Dagenais' shot from the edge of the zone hit Sheppard and although the Sheffield forward threw himself at the loose puck in the crease he couldn't force it in. Instead, Lehman found himself making two saves from the busy Luke Stauffacher with Phoenix still short-handed.
Omar Ennaffati's shot was padded aside and, although the home side swept down the other end, there was no end product and instead Passmore released Clouthier who made scoring look easy.
Ian Manzano and Hewitt tested Fankhouser from distance but it was all too easy for the visitors as Lehman was grateful to freeze the puck in a scramble by his left post. Soon after, Starke cycled behind the net to force a save at the other post.
Phoenix failed to test Lehman on Legue's tripping minor and instead Dagenais burst up the wing with Tallari taking a hooking penalty trying to win the puck back on the back boards.
Jeff MacMillan fired the puck out inside his own zone to give Sheffield 57 seconds on 5 on 3, but the home side's abject powerplay failed to produce a single shot.
Fankhouser was at least called into action after a freak ricochet found Sheppard 8 feet out but the Phoenix keeper turned the first-time shot past his right post.
Sheffield huffed and puffed without creating quality openings. Jeremy Cornish low on the left forced a save and Warren Tait forced another going across the front, but the Phoenix defence knocked Hewiit clean off the loose puck before he had chance to squeeze it in.
With Sheffield reduced to speculative shots from distance, Tallari burst up the right. Mark Thomas did his best to haul him down and would have taken a tripping penalty, had the forward not found the net despite Lehman's despairing forward dive.
Phoenix were on fire and Starke forced another save, but Sheffield were soon 3 down when Passmore netted from inside the left circle.
Four minutes later Legue had a glorious chance, jumping onto a loose puck and cutting inside but his fierce shot was straight at Fankhouser and with the net adrift Sheffield had no chance to force the rebound home.
Cornish and Starke clashed to leave the sides 4 on 4 and another shot from the edge of the zone by Sarich was comfortably dealt with. MacMillan found himself sitting a hooking penalty for 32 seconds of 4-on-3 but only Sarich forced a save with Legue firing the rebound wide.
Two big saves arrived early in the final period Ennaffati's right point shot was turned aside and Lehman did well to keep out Starke's rebound despite the Phoneix player being prone on the ice. Then a drilled pass from the left found Hewitt on the doorstep, but again Fankhouser somehow kept it out.
As the home side lost their shape Sarich was caught in possession and Starke drilled a powerful shot into the far corner of the net.
Within 30 seconds Legue could only tap the puck to Fankhouser when stood near the near left post.
Sheffield continued to keep plugging away without looking like scoring, though with 6 minutes remaining Sheppard thought he'd squeezed the puck in at the near post from low on the left but ref Hicks ruled it hadn't crossed the line.
Stauffacher might have made it five, twice getting in down the right. the second time Lehman required a double save to deny Phoenix.
A late penalty to Basiuk saw Phoenix call a time out and although Dagenias forced a good blocker save, the result was never in doubt.
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