Title contenders showdown

MANCHESTER, UK – MANCHESTER Phoenix host table-topping Guildford Flames tomorrow (Saturday 7pm) hoping to close the gap between the two sides to just two points. With two wins already in the bag against their opponents and six in their last eight, Tony Hand’s charges have given themselves a chance of repeating their 2011 title triumph. The driving force after an indifferent start to the campaign has been the top line. Hand, Joachim Flatten and Michal Psurny have tallied 137 points so far this season. But secondary scoring has also been impressive – James Archer in particular scoring 14 goals and 16 assists. Bari Mckenzie has been brought in to bolster the second line and Liam Chong made his debut for the club last weekend following a miserable run with injury. They effectively replace Ciaran Long who has left the club to join Slough Jets and Coventry-bound Derek Campbell. And with ex-NHL defenceman Robert Schnabel set to return this weekend Hand has a full side to ice. Guildford are the current EPL Champions, have lost only once in 17 games and are the League’s hotshots with 143 goals. Great Britain international forward David Longstaff has hit 67 points so far this season and  is complemented by ex Phoenix striker Curtis Huppe, who has 51 points. Mark Lee has also been solid between the pipes and Manchester will have to put pressure on him if they are to be successful. Saturday’s match faces off at 7pm whilst on Sunday Phoenix will travel to Telford Tigers (5.30pm). To conta ct the author emai l: Mike.Appleton@prohockeynews.com

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