Michal Psurny’s five-goal haul helped Manchester Phoenix overcome struggling Slough Jets 7-2 on Sunday night to return to the summit of the English Premier League.
Phoenix were well rested after a Saturday off and were in front after just three-and-a-half minutes when Psurny’s compatriot Frankie Bakrlik tucked away Andy McKinney’s pass.
The home side doubled their lead on eight minutes with a goal from Jack Watkins, assisted by Liam Chong and Richard Bentham.
Psurny grabbed his first with an outstanding effort near the end of the first period. The 27-year-old picked up James Archer’s pass and fired a bullet past the stranded Jets goalie.
Slough managed to cut into the lead six seconds before the buzzer through Jamie Line but it did little to reverse the momentum.
Phoenix continued to dominate in the second period, with Robin Kovar, Bakrlik and Tony Hand all going close before Psurny’s attempted pass rebounded into the net off Jets forward Matt Towalksi for a short-handed goal.
Now firmly in control, the only worry of the night for the home side came when Bakrlik went down under a challenge from Slough’s James Buckingham, who was called for clipping. Thankfully, the big forward returned to action after missing a couple of shifts with no apparent lasting effects.
The Jets gave themselves some hope right at the end of the second period through Mindy Kieras, although Phoenix goaltender Stephen Fone appeared to be impeded. Nevertheless, the goal stood.
Fone had to stand tall at the start of the final stanza to keep Slough at bay as they searched for a way back into the game. After a string of saves from their netminder, Phoenix turned up the heat and Psurny grabbed two goals within 20 seconds to put the result beyond doubt.
The Czech hitman rounded off the scoring with his fifth on 53.24 before Phoenix gave some ice time to back-up goalie Paul Maudsley as they took another two points on home ice.
After the game, man of the match Psurny said: “This game may have looked easy with all the trouble Slough has had but it still needed to be won. We worked hard and scored the goals and I am pleased with the win.”
The victory means Phoenix are top of the EPL, level with second place Basingstoke Bison on 52 points but with three games in hand. Reigning champs Guildford Flames are third on 51 points.
Phoenix travel to Slough next Saturday for the last regular game meeting between the two sides before Milton Keynes Lightning travel to Altrincham on Sunday, face off at 5.30pm.
Meanwhile, Manchester’s home EPL Cup semi-final with MK Lightning has been confirmed for Thursday, 13 February.
Saturday 18 January
Basingstoke Bison 5-4 Peterborough Phantoms
Bracknell Bees 1-4 Telford Tigers
Milton Keynes Lightning 3-1 Swindon Wildcats
Slough Jets 2-8 Sheffield Steeldogs
Sunday 19 January
Manchester Phoenix 7-2 Slough Jets
Peterborough Phantoms 7-5 Bracknell Bees
Swindon Wildcats 5-2 Guildford Flames
Telford Tigers 5-2 Milton Keynes Lightning
Pic: Richard Amor-Allan