Manchester Phoenix 3 Milton Keynes Lightning 2 (after OT and pens)

Manchester Phoenix continued their league revival with a hard-fought win over Milton Keynes Lightning on Sunday night.

Phoenix took the points in a dour tussle which nevertheless produced their third win in four league games and engineered enough optimism to give belief to their fans, still reeling from Manchester's worst start to a campaign since joining the EPL, that there is yet better to come.

Phoenix had followed up their recent demolition of Basingstoke Bison with a thrilling 5-3 win at home to Guildford Flames, but had narrowly lost 4-3 away in Surrey on Saturday night. They were missing Adam Walker and James Neil for the match against Lightning.

Phoenix started strongly as usual and tested Stephen Wall in the MK net in the early minutes. However they could not find their usual rhythm and Lightning took the lead on six minutes with a goal by Lewis Hook,and the home side suffered a huge blow a minute later when netminder Steve Fone had to go off injured after a melee in the crease where a player appeared to fall on his leg. Back up Declan Ryan took over and did well to keep out the MKL forwards who were hungry to add to their lead. Phoenix equalised on 15 minutes when Jack Watkins directed the puck home.

The second period was a dour, scrappy affair with neither team able to make their mark on the game, but in the third period Lightning took the lead for the second time in the game on 45 minutes with a Leigh Jamieson effort. Phoenix battled back and a Robin Kovar strike six minutes from time levelled the tie again. Ryan pulled off an unbelievable late save to deny MK the points and with no overtime winner the game went to penalties.

James Archer (Phoenix) and Milan Kostourek (MK) both missed in the first round. Frankie Bakrlik and Michal Psurny scored for Phoenix with Blaz Emersic and Jordan Cownie finding the net for MK to take the game into a sudden death shootout.

Robin Kovar and Joe Graham missed their shots as did Adam Carr and Stanislav Lascek for Lightning. Phoenix player coach Tony Hand stepped up to take his shot. He looked like he had lost control on the left, recovered to take the puck across the goal then turned and shot from wide right to beat Stephen Wall. Leigh Jamieson came out to try and save the game for Lightning but Declan Ryan stood tall and kept the puck out for the win.

Ryan said after the game: “It was great to get ice time tonight; although I would rather Stephen (Fone) had not got injured. I really enjoyed the game and it was great to get the win.”