Steeldogs end long wait for Phoenix win

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SHEFFIELD Steeldogs ensured they went into the weekend in buoyant mood when they finally ended their wait for victory over Manchester Phoenix.

Andre Payette’s side won 4-1 in Altrincham on Thursday night, marking the South Yorkshire club’s first victory over their arch-rivals since Phoenix stepped down from the Elite League in 2009.

The result also moved the Steeldogs into second place in the English Premier League table, one point behind leaders Slough Jets but having played a game more.

This weekend Sheffield are back on home ice on Saturday against Bracknell Bees (7.30pm), before hitting the road again to face bottom club Peterborough Phantoms on Sunday.

But the best result of what has already been an impressive season came in Cheshire on Thursday. A stunning start saw the visitors 2-0 ahead within the first five minutes, with the returning Greg Wood’s fourth-minute opener being followed by Janis Ozolins’s strike at 4.14.

A stunned Phoenix enjoyed the greater pressure for the remainder of the first but couldn’t find any way past Ben Bowns. The hosts did halve the deficit through Ladzi Harabin at 34.27 but, within a minute, Wood grabbed his second of the night to restore the visitors’ two-goal advantage.

Phoenix player-coach Tony Hand found himself presented with a clear opportunity to make it a one-goal game again when awarded a 48th-minute penalty shot, but Bowns stood tall before the points were sealed on a memorable night through Ozolins, who scored his second goal in the 55th minute.