Phoenix make promising start in sledge hockey debut
Manchester Phoenix sledge hockey team made their debut at the Dome on Saturday with games against Peterborough Phantoms and Kingston Kestrels.
Phoenix will be joining the British Sledge Hockey League next season and the games were to gauge the development of the team and to introduce a dimension of hockey new to many fans.
Phoenix iced for the first time against a game Phantoms team. Dan Breen in goal kept the eager Manchester outfit at bay on numerous occasions but a hat trick from GB player Karl Nicholson gave the delighted home team a 5-1 win.
The newly-crowned sledge hockey league champions Kingston Kestrels also proved too strong for the Phantoms outfit in the second game and ran out convincing winners by 13-1. Huge credit was due to the relatively inexperienced Peterborough team who fought bravely for the whole 30 minutes.
The final game of the day saw the home side take on the best team in the country and despite a 5-1 defeat, Phoenix showed plenty of promise and enterprise.
Three goals from Matt Clarkson and one each from Berry and Warner completed the Kestrels’ scoring. However the biggest cheer of the night came when Karl Nicholson scored the home goal.
Phoenix coach Pete Hagan said after the games: “I am really happy with the way the team performed today. We have only been together for 12 weeks and some players started from scratch. A huge thanks to everybody who played or helped with the organisation of the day. The future of sledge hockey in Manchester looks bright.”
Great Britain player and three-time Paralympic competitor Karl Nicholson said: “Today was a good day for everybody involved in the Phoenix Organisation. We only came together three months ago and the progress made is astonishing. The Kestrels have been together for more than 20 years and I think we acquitted ourselves very well in that game. They are deserved league champions but Phoenix have definitely designs on the title soon.”