Manchester Phoenix

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Manchester Phoenix Ice Hockey Club
Manchester Phoenix Logo 2011.jpg
City Altrincham (2007–2015) Deeside, North Wales (2015– 2016), Blackpool (2016 - 2017), Widnes (2017)
League English Premier Ice Hockey League
Founded 2003
Folded 2017
Home arena Widnes Arena (2017)
Colors

White, Black, Red

              
Owner(s) United Kingdom Neil Morris
General manager United Kingdom (N/A) – Neil Morris
Head coach United Kingdom Tony Hand, MBE
Captain United Kingdom Luke Boothroyd

Manchester Phoenix were a semi professional ice hockey team from Greater Manchester, England. The club was formed in 2003 as a result of the efforts of supporters group Friends of Manchester Ice Hockey to bring top-level ice hockey back to Manchester after Manchester Storm folded in 2002.

Phoenix were founder members of the Elite Ice Hockey League upon its formation in 2003, playing in the 17,500 capacity Manchester Arena. The cost of using such a large facility proved financially untenable, and Phoenix suspended playing operations in 2004 pending the construction of a smaller purpose built ice facility. Construction of the Altrincham Ice Dome commenced in 2006, and the club returned to the Elite League for the 2006–07 season. After three seasons in the EIHL, the club joined the English Premier Ice Hockey League on 30 April 2009.

Since being in the EPIHL, the club have been fairly successful, having won two league championships and one playoff final with multiple appearances at the playoff finals weekend.

Unfortunately, since 2015 the club have been without a home rink within Greater Manchester and finally played their home games at Widnes Ice Arena, following spells at Deeside Ice Arena, North Wales and Fylde Coast Ice Arena, Blackpool.

The club folded on 31 January 2017 after an unsuccessful meeting with potential investors.[1]

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

In 2002, the Manchester Storm, once the best-supported Ice Hockey club in Europe, ran into serious financial trouble and was folded. Initially fans protested against SMG, the company who owned the Manchester Evening News Arena as it was perceived that troubles had arisen due to SMG's disinterest in continuing to house the Storm at the Manchester Evening News Arena. This soon turned into a rally in support of the team and a supporters group known as 'The Friends of Manchester Storm' was established after Gary Cowan, the owner of the Storm officially announced he was finalising the organisation's operations due to unsustainable debts.[2] Once it became clear that the Storm were not to return, FOMS changed their name, becoming the 'Friends Of Manchester Ice Hockey', or 'FOMIH'.[3]

This group had two established aims, namely to bring top level professional ice hockey back to Manchester and to ensure the creation of a new ice rink facility in the region. In 2003, a club was formed and with fans choosing to symbolically title the team the 'Manchester Phoenix', rising from the ashes of the Storm.

Initial playing operations[edit]

The newly formed Manchester Phoenix would be one of the founding members of the British Elite Ice Hockey League and played out of the MEN Arena for their inaugural season. Under player-coach Rick Brebant, and later Paul Heavey, the team finished sixth out of eight in the league, the final qualifying place for the playoffs. Phoenix finished second in their Playoff group ahead of the Belfast Giants, qualifying for the semi-final, where they were beaten 6–1 by the Nottingham Panthers.[4]

Despite an impressive beginning, with 3,600 turning out for the first home game against the London Racers, crowds would not be consistent and it soon became apparent that ice hockey at the busiest indoor venue in Europe would no longer be viable with the season's average attendance being just 2,150 per game, falling far short of the rumoured number of 3,000 needed to cover costs. As a result, the Phoenix temporarily suspended playing operations at the end of the 2003–04 season.[5]

In May 2004 the Phoenix announced that they had the funding to construct a new temporary ice rink but problems arose as to exactly where to locate the facility. As a result, the deadline for inclusion in the EIHL passed, and the Phoenix withdrew from the 2004–05 season. The club had still not managed to build a new venue by the following year, and announced that the Phoenix would not be part of the 2005–06 season either.[6] In November 2005, the club announced details of a new rink to be built in partnership with Nikal, David McLean and Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council. The new rink would seat 2,026, with 24 wheelchair spaces, and standing for approx 4–500.[7] Planning permission for the rink was finally granted in early January 2006 and construction began on 30 March, with the rink to be sited in Altrincham.[8]

With progress being made, the Phoenix confirmed their inclusion in the EIHL once again, for the 2006–07 season with the Ice Dome scheduled to host its first game on 24 September 2006. The Phoenix also announced the appointment of Tony Hand as player/head coach. This was regarded as a huge step forward for the organisation, as Hand is regarded by many as the greatest British ice hockey player of all time. Unfortunately for Hand and the team, unexpected delays followed and so in the interim Phoenix home games were held at either IceSheffield or Deeside Leisure Centre. After further construction and two further missed completion dates, the rink eventually opened with a reduced capacity of 1,000 on 25 February 2007, with Phoenix playing host to the Basingstoke Bison.[9] It was the first time professional hockey had been played in Manchester for almost three years. The remaining 700 seats were installed over the following months, with the Dome completely ready for the beginning of the 2007–08 season.

For further information, please see 2006-07 Manchester Phoenix season.

Demise[edit]

On the weekend of the 2015 playoff finals, it was announced by Silver Blades that they were unable to reach agreement with the Club to renew the ice time agreement despite an offer of reduced rental costs.. Further details were given on the 8thApril.[10] Manchester Phoenix issued a statement refuting the allegations made of unpaid rental costs.[11]

As a result of this, the club left themselves homeless, but with plans to build a new arena in Manchester City Centre.[12] While this was being prepared however, it was announced that the club would play in Deeside for the 2015-2016 season.[13]

In June 2016, it was announced that Manchester Phoenix would move to Eastlands for the 2016/2017 season.[14] However unrealistic time scales and planning delays meant that this rink was not able to be started in time for the season. Instead, the club chose to play from the Fylde Ice Arena, Blackpool.[15]

Again the proposed timescales proved unachievable and, the new rink was not able to be even started in time for January 2017, making the business model of playing from Blackpool unviable. As a result, the club was forced to release it's imported playing staff and move to Silver Blades Widnes.[16] This added pressure, and the unlikely prospect of the club being able to fund a permanent home in Manchester, meant that the club was sadly forced to fold half way through the 2016/17 season.[17]

Earlier Seasons[edit]

2007–08 season[edit]

Form continued to be hard to find for the Phoenix though. Despite scoring significant numbers of goals, the Phoenix defence proved to be anything but watertight and high scoring games became a regular occurrence. Manchester closed the regular season on 23 April with a 6–2 away loss to the Hull Stingrays, finishing 7th in the EIHL. This was perceived by many fans to be somewhat of an underachievement by the organisation.

The Phoenix's seventh-placed finish ensured a post-season matchup with their fiercest rivals, the Sheffield Steelers. Again two high scoring games would follow; the Phoenix lost 5–4 in Sheffield, ensuring a tense return leg at the Ice Dome. Despite scoring four goals, the Phoenix defence again proved to be a problem, with the game ending 4–4 in front of a sell out crowd of 2150. The draw meant that the Phoenix exited the playoffs in the first round for the second year in a row.[18]

2008–09 season[edit]

For Game-By-Game Log see 2008-09 Manchester Phoenix Season

2009–10 season[edit]

The team finished the season in 3rd place,[19] and qualified for the EPL post season play-offs. They defeated the Peterborough Phantons 6–5 on aggregate in the quarter finals [20] to progress to the finals weekend in Coventry, where they were defeated in their semi final by the Slough Jets.[21]

2010–11 season[edit]

On 27 March 2011, Manchester Phoenix played Swindon Wildcats at home on the last day of the season. Going into the game, Manchester Phoenix needed a single point to secure the league title. They beat Swindon 5–2 picking up two points and therefore were crowned league champions, earning the club's first major trophy.[22]

2011–12 season[edit]

Despite losing player/coach Tony Hand to a serious injury,[23] the club managed to remain competitive and finished a creditable 2nd in the league. The Club subsequently qualified for the play off finals weekend, where they defeated local rivals the Sheffield Steeldogs in the semi final, before losing to the Slough Jets in the final game[24]

2012–13 season[edit]

The Phoenix finished the season 3rd in the league, and also reached the Cup semi finals, losing to Guildford Flames. However, in the end of season play off finals, the club took their revenge beating Guildford 5–2 and emerged victorious, claiming their first play off title in the process.[25]

2013–14 Season[edit]

On 16 March 2014 Manchester Phoenix won their second league title after beating close rivals Basingstoke Bison 5–2. The Phoenix had been in contention for the title throughout the season, but only clinched the title with 1 round of fixtures remaining. The club proceeded to qualify for the Play Off Finals weekend, where they were unable to defend their Play Off title, finishing as runner up.

2014–15 Season[edit]

On the 3rd April 2015 the eve of the 2015 Playoff finals weekend it was annonuced that Red Hockey UK purchased 34% of the Phoenix's shares making them the third team under Red Hockey ownership along with Bracknell Bees (49% of shares) and Telford Tigers who the company own. The owners announced that they would be leaving Altrincham to move the club to a new rink in central Manchester

It was also during this weekend that Silver Blades made the announcement that their proposal concerning the renewal of the ice time agreement could not be agreed with the club despite the offer of reduced rental costs,[26] which effectively left the club on the road for the next two seasons.

Attendance[edit]

The club has attracted a significantly lower set of attendance figures than the Manchester Storm did. During the team's first season the average attendance for all home league fixtures was given as 2,267,[27] in a 17,245 seat arena (although only approx 4,500 seats were made available for public use during games). When the move to Altrincham was completed, the attendance averaged 800,[28] climbing to 1,027 in the 09–10 season.[29] This makes the club the third best attended club in the EPIHL, behind the Guildford Flames and Milton Keynes Lightning, and the ninth overall in Great Britain.[30]


Club records[edit]

Appearances: Tony Hand: 385 appearances. (2006–present)[31]

Points (Overall): Tony Hand: 655 (2006–present)[31]

Points (Season): Tony Hand: 133 during regular season (2010–11)[32]

Goals (Season): Marcus Kristoffersson: 62 regular season (2010–11 season)[32]

PIMS: Tony Hand: 469[31]

Attendance Single Game (MEN Arena): 3,600 (estimate), Vs. London Racers, 14 September 2003[33]

Attendance Single Game (Altrincham): 2,100 (estimate), Vs. Basingstoke Bison, Sunday 3 March 2013,[34] Vs. Peterborough Phantoms, Saturday 8 March 2013[35]

Games between shut-outs: 212, between 15 March 2008 (2–0 loss to Cardiff Devils) to 30 October 2011 (3–0 loss to Basingstoke Bison).[36] (details taken from club's official results database)

Honours and awards[edit]

2003–04[edit]

2006–07[edit]

2007–08[edit]

2008–09[edit]

2009–10[edit]

  • Finished 3rd place EPL League
  • Semi-Finalists Play-off's
  • Semi-Finalists EPL Cup
  • 'EPL All Star 1st Team' – Tony Hand
  • 'EPL All Star 2nd Team' – Ed Courtenay

2010–11[edit]

  • English Premier League Champions
  • Semi-Finalists Play-off's
  • Semi-Finalists EPL Cup
  • 'EPIHL All Star 1st Team'- Steve Fone, Ladislav Harabin, Marcus Kristoffersson, Tony Hand[37]
  • 'EPIHL All Star 2nd Team'- Pavel Gomenyuk, Curtis Huppe[37]
  • 'EPIHL Player of the Year'- Tony Hand[37]
  • 'EPIHL Coach of the Year'- Tony Hand[37]

2011–12[edit]

  • Finished 2nd place EPL League
  • Runner Up Play-off's
  • Semi-Finalists EPL Cup
  • 'EPIHL All star 2nd Team' – Martin Cingel

2012–13[edit]

  • Finished 3rd place EPL League
  • English Premier League Play Off Champions
  • Semi-Finalists EPL Cup
  • 'EPIHL All Star 1st Team' – Luke Boothroyd
  • 'EPIHL All Star 2nd Team' – Michal Psurny

'2013–14[edit]

  • English Premier League Champions
  • Runner Up 2013–14 Playoffs
  • Semi-Finalists EPL Cup
  • 'EPIHL All Star 1st Team' – Stephen Fone, Luke Boothroyd, Michal Psurny
  • 'EPIHL All Star 2nd Team' – Robert Schnabel, Tony Hand, Robin Kovar
  • 'EPIHL Coach of the Year' – Tony Hand
  • 'EPIHL Player of the Year' – Luke Boothroyd

Retired numbers[edit]

  • #9 Scotland Tony Hand – Jersey retired for exceptional service to Manchester Phoenix.
  • #17 United States Dwight Parrish – Jersey retired for services to ice hockey in Manchester.

Head coaches[edit]

Individuals who have been appointed Head Coach of the Manchester Phoenix;

Club captains[edit]

Players who have captained the Manchester Phoenix;

Two-team players[edit]

Players who have featured for both the Manchester Phoenix and the Manchester Storm in league fixtures;

NHL draftees[edit]

Players who have played for the Manchester Phoenix who have been selected in NHL entry drafts;

NHL Draftees
Position Player Draft Position Draft Year Draft Team
F United Kingdom Tony Hand 252nd 1986 Edmonton Oilers
RW Canada Ed Courtenay 5th 1991 Exp San Jose Sharks
D Canada Jeff Sebastian 115th 1991 Winnipeg Jets
LW Canada Andre Payette 244th 1994 Philadelphia Flyers
LW Canada David Beauregard 271st 1994 San Jose Sharks
G United States Scott Fankhouser 276th 1994 St. Louis Blues
D Canada Mike Lankshear 66th 1996 Toronto Maple Leafs
LW Canada K.C. Timmons 141st 1998 Colorado Avalanche
LW Canada Brett Clouthier 50th 1999 New Jersey Devils
D Canada Jeff MacMillan 215th 1999 Dallas Stars
C Canada Brian Passmore 199th 2000 Minnesota Wild
RW Canada Kyle Bruce 231st 2001 Florida Panthers
C Canada Grant Jacobsen 270th 2001 St. Louis Blues
D Slovakia Radoslav Hecl 208th 2002 Buffalo Sabres
RW Sweden Marcus Kristoffersson 105th 1997 Dallas Stars
D Czech Republic Robert Schnabel 79th – 1997

129th – 1998

1997

1998

New York Islanders

Phoenix Coyotes

C Czech Republic Robin Kovář 123rd 2002 Edmonton Oilers

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Manchester Phoenix: Premier League side fold over financial issues". BBC News. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "Storm Clouds Brewing". www.SportsBusiness.com. Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Hughes, Stuart (12 November 2002). "Storm sink as cash bid fails". BBC Sport. Retrieved 8 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "Phoenix Bow Out Of Playoffs". ManchesterPhoenix.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "Phoenix Take Time Out As Part Of Plan For Future". ManchesterPhoenix.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  6. ^ Brierley, Chris (17 June 2005). "Phoenix on back burner". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "Altrincham Ice Dome seating plans" (PDF). Altrincham Ice Dome website. Retrieved 30 January 2007. (pdf)
  8. ^ "Phoenix on ice". BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2007. 
  9. ^ "Bison Partypoop On Phoenix Opener". ManchesterPhoenix.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  10. ^ http://www.silverblades.co.uk/page/individual_news/Altrincham/12
  11. ^ https://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2604/message-md
  12. ^ https://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2611/manchester-phoenix-unveil-plans-brand-new-3000-seater-arena
  13. ^ https://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2640/phoenix-play-deeside-2015-16
  14. ^ https://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2777/eastlands-confirmed-phoenixs-new-home
  15. ^ https://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2783/new-rollercoaster-ride-hits-blackpool
  16. ^ https://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2845/new-rink-update
  17. ^ https://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2850/end-era
  18. ^ "Phoenix Bow Out Of Playoffs Despite Superb Effort". ManchesterPhoenix.co.uk. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  19. ^ "EPL table as of April 12th 2010". Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  20. ^ Brierley, Chris (4 April 2010). "Phoenix 6 Peterborough 5 (agg)". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  21. ^ Brierley, Chris (11 April 2010). "Hand offers hope for Phoenix future". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  22. ^ "Manchester Phoenix champions after 5–2 win over Swindon". BBC Sport. 28 March 2011. 
  23. ^ "Tony Hand: Injury Update". Manchester Phoenix. 13 December 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  24. ^ "Coventry Weekend Review – News". Manchester Phoenix. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  25. ^ "Rampant Phoenix claim Playoff Title (From The Bolton News)". Theboltonnews.co.uk. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  26. ^ http://www.silver-blades.co.uk/page/individual_news/Altrincham/12
  27. ^ "Attendance (GB) 2004". Hockeyarenas.net. 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  28. ^ "Attendance (GB) 2008". Hockeyarenas.net. 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  29. ^ "Attendance (GB) 2010". Hockeyarenas.net. 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  30. ^ "Attendance (GB) Top25 2010". Hockeyarenas.net. 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  31. ^ a b c "Manchester Phoenix". Eliteprospects.com. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  32. ^ a b [1] Archived 4 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ Brierley, Chris (15 September 2003). "Manchester Phoenix 4 London Racers 0". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media. 
  34. ^ "Saturday despair turns to Sunday joy". Manchester Phoenix. 4 March 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  35. ^ "Sell-out Saturday at the Dome". Manchester Phoenix. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  36. ^ "The Official Manchester Phoenix Site". manchesterphoenix.co.uk. 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  37. ^ a b c d [2] Archived 11 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]