Since our last update two weeks ago things have gone a bit off the rails for Manchester's hockey club. The Phoenix still sit in third place in the EPL, but the distance between them and the top two clubs, Basingstoke Bison and the Guildford Flames, has widened. Manchester is now 9 points behind second place Basingstoke and 11 points behind first place Guildford.
Why has the gap widened? In part it is due to their three straight losses and in part because of who they lost to in two of the contests. Two of the losses came against first place Guildford. The Phoenix lost to Guildford 7-4 on Saturday and again by a score of 4-2 this past Sunday. Sandwiched in between was a 9-4 defeat to Peterborough Phantoms on Sunday February 10. It should be noted the Phoenix were shorthanded for the first two games. Phoenix coach and forward Tony Hand is also head coach of Great Britain's national team. He spent time two weeks ago trying to get Britain to Sochi. Unfortunately, the Brits lost all three of their games in the last round of qualifying and won't be headed to Russia next winter. In addition to Hand's brief absence, the team has also been without their starting goaltender Stephen Fone. He is scheduled to have surgery tomorrow and possibly could be back in time for the playoffs. The Phoenix have also been without the services of their leading scorer Norwegian forward Joachim Flaten.
The Phoenix face the Flames again tomorrow (Wednesday) in a 'must win' affair.