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Manchester Phoenix 6 Slough Jets 7 (AOT)

January 5, 2010

A Blaz Emersic-inspired Slough Jets deservedly grabbed their fourth win out of four over Manchester Phoenix in Altrincham on Sunday night to further loosen the home side’s grip at the top-end of the league.

Phoenix went into the game without top scorer Ed Courtenay, who had been delayed in travelling back from North America after the Christmas break.

Phoenix have now lost five out of the last six as Slovenian Emersic hit five goals and two assists, including the overtime winner, and now lie four points behind leaders Milton Keynes Lightining with the Jets and Guildford Flames following closely.

Phoenix's Andre Payette lifts the irritating Adam Greener onto the boards

Phoenix raced into a 2-0 lead before two minutes were up, with goals from Adam Walker and Iain Bowie. Emersic struck back two minutes later, but his goal was the last in a period marred by petty confrontations (no thanks to Slough’s Adam Greener) and very little quality hockey. Walker had missed a penalty shot after a Slough defenceman covered the puck in the crease, but 2-1 was about right as neither side found much rhythm.

Phoenix were, on the scoreboard at least, coming off better, and extended their lead with a Tony Hand strike early in the second period as Walker and Rob Lachowitz, who enjoyed a prosperous Christmas with Elite League side Nottingham Panthers, combined to feed their player-coach.

Emersic promptly turned 1-3 into 3-3 with two goals inside five minutes as Phoenix’s defence went walkabout. Joe Graham going to the bench looking for a change proved costly as Emersic went one-on-one with Steven Fone and confidently equalised, netting his hat-trick within 34 minutes.

Hand then helped Phoenix regain the lead with a rare moment of decent hockey, but Dan Davies and Emersic ensured that the topsy-turvy period would end with Slough leading, each taking advantage of more poor defending and goalkeeping with two goals 27 seconds apart.

Adam Walker makes it 6-5 to give Phoenix a fighting chance

They went further ahead two minutes into the third, as Davies made it 6-4. Phoenix toiled with little reward until, with two minutes left and the visitors’ Peter Poljacek serving two minutes for interference, Adam Walker picked up a rebound from a tight angle and lifted the puck over Gregg Rockman. Another improbable Phoenix comeback looked possible, and less than a minute later Lachowitz scrambled home to take the game into overtime and secure at least a point.

Though both teams had conceded 6, Slough looked by far more comfortable on the puck and deservedly secured both points as Emersic, again, fired past Fone after skating unopposed from the right.

Phoenix’s never-say-die attitude has served them well this season, with a flurry of late goals deciding games. However, their defence remains awful, and their approach of outscoring the opposition regardless was always unlikely to succeed all season.

Teams are now taking advantage and a team lacking fluidity, and the ability to stand up to aggressive, physical sides like Slough, now need to break a losing streak if they are to win the league – something that looked so achievable just a few weeks ago.

*All photos taken from

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