Manchester Phoenix 5 Guildford Flames 2

Manchester Phoenix ended the season with a scintillating display of hockey that gave them a resounding and well-deserved victory and the title of EPL Playoff Champions.

Guildford Flames, who reached the final after beating Milton Keynes Lightning, were chasing an historic treble, having already taken the League title and EPL Cup, but Phoenix took the game to the Flames from the first face off and their power play unit came up trumps after nine minutes with the first goal of the evening. Michal Psurny fed Tony Hand who sent the puck across traffic to the waiting Luke Boothroyd and he made no mistake firing high past Mark Lee in the Flames goal. There was no further scoring in the period but Phoenix were dominating proceedings, harassing the Flames at every opportunity and dispelling fears of tiredness that some had feared after their epic semi-final penalty shootout win over Basingstoke Bison on Saturday night.

The sell-out crowd expected Guildford to come back at Phoenix in the second period but it was Manchester, who were putting on arguably their finest, most complete display of the season, who scored two more goals to give themselves a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes. On 26.37 Bari McKenzie sent James Archer off and the in-form forward made no mistake. Phoenix’s third marker broke the hearts and souls of the Flames supporters as Michal Psurny hit a short-handed goal with four minutes left in the period. Liam Chong was awarded an assist on the goal.

Flames pulled a goal back with just 40 seconds on the clock in the third period. Nathan Rempel scored the goal with Jozef Kohut assisting. Phoenix held firm under a five-minute onslaught before another short-handed goal gave them one hand on the trophy. Joachim Flaten was in the penalty box on a high sticks minor penalty when James Archer passed to Tony Hand on the goal line. Spotting Mark Lee just off his near post, the veteran genius hit an unstoppable shot through the gap and high into the net.

The Phoenix fans began to believe the dream was about to come true on 49.49 when Psurny scored his second goal of the evening to make it 5-1. Defender Ondrej Pozivil was awarded an assist on the goal. Flames scored a second goal with just under 10 minutes left through Branislav Kvetan, assisted by Nathan Rempel and David Longstaff, but this was a consolation goal as Phoenix saw out the match with a couple of outstanding saves from their man of the match Stephen Fone.

Phoenix Coach Tony Hand said: “I am really proud of the whole team tonight. They executed our game plan to perfection and this must go down as one of our best ever performances. Guildford are a great organisation and team but tonight was to be our night. I’m really pleased for the fans. They have been superb all season both home and away and the turnout this weekend is amazing. We are so glad, as a team, to win the trophy for them.”