Manchester Phoenix are aiming to gear up for their playoff tilt with wins in the last two games of another eventful regular season.
Back-to-back victories against Sheffield Steeldogs tonight and Telford Tigers will guarantee third place in the EPL table and likely set up a playoff quarter-final with Swindon Wildcats.
Phoenix will be hoping to have Czech duo of top scorer Michal Psurny and defenceman Ondrej Pozivil back in contention after they missed the team’s last game through injury and illness respectively.
Elsewhere, there is encouraging news on starting goaltender Steve Fone, who looks to be on course to return for the playoffs after missing 19 games with a groin injury. He was named as backup for last Sunday’s clash with the Steeldogs and Phoenix MD Neil Morris revealed earlier this week that the 25-year-old has been putting in extra training on the ice. With the EPL title already decided and the impressive performances of understudy Andrew Jaszczyk, who was named Man of the Match against Sheffield last time out, player-coach Tony Hand can take his time with Fone to ensure he is fully recovered for the postseason.
Tonight’s game in Sheffield is definitely on despite the snowfall over the last 24 hours and Phoenix are looking to build on last Sunday’s hard-fought 3-2 win against their Yorkshire rivals.
Sheffield’s playoff hopes are dead and buried after a miserable season but Andre Payette’s tough team will be looking to go out with a bang in their last home game of the campaign.
Feisty forward Greg Wood has broken the 60-point barrier this season, while Czech Lubomir Korhon has chalked up 45 points in just 30 games.
Another Czech, Dalibor Sedlar, will be out to repeat last Sunday’s Man of the Match performance for the Steeldogs between the pipes.
Phoenix return to Altrincham Ice Dome on Sunday for their final home game of the season – and a revenge mission against the troublesome Telford Tigers.
The EPL’s bottom club have won only ten times in 2012-13 but have managed to beat Manchester twice – handing them an 8-2 hammering in Shropshire last Saturday.
Former Phoenix forward Scott McKenzie will be looking to continue his goal streak in Altrincham, where he was a popular figure but just could not find his scoring touch. He has certainly rediscovered it since returning to the Tigers, hitting the twine 17 times in 29 games and notching not one but two hat-tricks last weekend, including one against his former team-mates.
With Tim Burrows chipping in 21 goals and 18 assists for 39 points and Tomas Karpov sprinting to 33 points in just 21 appearances, the Tigers have found their bite late in the season.
And if action and drama aren’t enough to tempt you to the Ice Dome, there’s also romance in the air this weekend. Richard Allan, who has done it all for Phoenix from acting as match night MC to media director and now official photographer, is marrying fellow snapper Yolanda Amor on Saturday – and the happy couple will be celebrating by taking in Sunday’s game. What could be better? It’s so heartwarming, it might just melt the ice.
Tickets for the match are available via the Manchester Phoenix website.