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Manchester Phoenix 5 MK Lightning 4 (AOT)

December 9, 2009

Manchester Phoenix 5 Milton Keynes Lightning 4 (AOT)

Altrincham Ice Dome

Walker 30.44, 39.15, Mattsson 38:47, Hagelberg 57.19, Boothroyd 62.17

Brittle 3.41, Kalgoum 8.06, 35.23, Farn 29.24

Two weeks ago these sides met and produced the best games of the season so far. On Sunday they lined up for what was, once again, a top-of-the-table clash.

MK began brightly, but it was Phoenix’s indiscipline cost them early on. Andre Payette needlessly picked up a boarding penalty and MK took advantage – the home defence went AWOL as Adam Brittle skated through two zones and slot past Adam Summerfield, who might have expected more protection from those in front of him on what was always likely to be a testing evening.

The penalties continued against Phoenix, some more blatant than others, and MK took a two-goal lead into the first break as Monir Kalgoum picked up a rebound in front of goal.

The sides square up during a testy first period

The second period began with MK picking up penalties, but they took the lead after a fumble from Summerfield, icing in his third straight game  following an injury to  first-choice Steven Fone: Michael Farn’s effort was gloved into the net.

Phoenix responded immediately with Adam Walker continuing his goalscoring form. Shortly afterwards Kalgoum added an easy fourth for the visitors – Phoenix were 35 minutes in and had yet to get going.

The turning point of the match came at the end of the period. With Lewis Christie in the box for a controversial penalty (holding Payette’s stick when most felt the Phoenix man was to blame), MK defenceman Leigh Jamieson took a needless penalty for slashing Tony Hand.

Left with a 5-on-3 powerplay, Phoenix took the initiative. Ed Courtenay found Mattsson in space and the Swede fired home through the legs of Barry Hollyhead. Less than 30 seconds later, Adam Walker scored his second of the game and Phoenix had closed a three-goal deficit to just one.

Nick Poole is furious as Phoenix equalise

It took 17 minutes of play in the third period before the equaliser arrived. Another powerplay led to the tireless Jaakko Hagelberg netting a goal as Ed Courtenay picked up his third assist of the night. Lightning player-coach Nick Poole received a ten-minute misconduct for having words with the referee afterwards.

The home fans celebrated Phoenix’s second comeback of the weekend – in Bracknell the night before they turned 1-4 into 5-4. Here they had scrambled a point against all the odds.

There was better to come. Two minutes into sudden-death 4-on-4 overtime, Lightning’s Matt Towalski and Phoenix’s Andre Mattsson tangled in front of the team benches. Both lay on the floor and under-fire referee Dave Goodwin let play continue with the visitors on a breakaway. When the game was stopped, both players were given delay-of-game penalties, to the fury of the Lightning players and staff.

The 3-on-3 situation was over 27 seconds later, as Ed Courtenay and Tony Hand took advantage of the open space to feed Phoenix captain Luke Boothroyd down the left. He fired clinically through Hollyhead’s legs to the fury of the visitors, many of whom refused to shake hands with the officials.

Phoenix captain Luke Boothroyd fires home the winner

For the second time in two weeks, the league’s top-two played out a thriller in Altrincham. The result leaves Manchester 3 points clear of MK with a game in hand.

* All photos and video taken from manchesterphoenix.com

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