Manchester Phoenix

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Manchester Phoenix Ice Hockey Club
Manchester Phoenix Logo 2011.jpg
City Manchester, England (2007–2015, 2016- ) Deeside, North Wales (2015– 2016)
League English Premier Ice Hockey League
Founded 2003
Home arena Fylde Coast Ice Arena, Blackpool (2016– )

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 are 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.

Despite this, the club were ranked at 200 in the IIHF 'top 250' club rankings at the end of the 2008–09 season, being the only EPIHL club listed at that time.[1] As of the 2009–10 rankings, they were no longer ranked.



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.

2007–08 season[edit]

During May 2007 the squad was rebuilt, with club captain Scott Basiuk and forwards Matt Rich, K. C. Timmons, Adam Walker, Brett Clouthier and defenceman Simon Mangos all re-signing to Tony Hand's team as well as the additions of Rhys McWilliams from the Solihull Barons, Jeff MacMillan from the ECHL's Phoenix RoadRunners and clinching the signing of former NHL player Scott Fankhouser as first choice goaltender.[10]

The season started well for the Phoenix, with Fankhouser winning EIHL player of the week early in the season.[11] This did not last though, and results began to slide. Hand reacted to this by releasing K. C. Timmons and signing former Fresno Falcons forward Luke Stauffacher in his place to try to create more goal scoring opportunities. Timmons would sign for the Coventry Blaze, and would answer his critics by scoring a hat-trick against the Phoenix at the Ice Dome in December 2007.[12]

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.[13]

2008–09 season[edit]

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

During the close-season, the Phoenix again re-built their squad. Tony Hand was again appointed head coach and moved to strengthen the British contingent of the squad, re-signing Carl Graham and Adam Walker, fully promoting Phil Hamer from the U-18 squad and on 16 May, announced the signing of Team G.B. defenceman Luke Boothroyd. Soon after, the Phoenix re-signed a familiar face in Dwight Parrish, who had iced for both the Manchester Storm and the Phoenix in their debut season. Alex Dunn and Josh Garbutt were the final two defencemen signed by Hand.

Hand also signed several more non-British players to the Phoenix roster, re-signing fans favourite Brett Clouthier, and offering Canadian duo Grant Jacobsen and David-Alexandre Beauregard their first taste of European hockey, as well as signing Odessa Jackalopes pair Kenton Smith and Nathan Ward. Smith would also be named club captain. Bruce Mulherin, Luke Fulghum and the hard-hitting Kyle Bruce completed the forward lines for the Phoenix. Manchester brought in first choice Team GB Goaltender Stephen Murphy who had previously played with Tony Hand in Dundee. Phoenix also re-signed Adam Summerfield as backup for Murphy.[14] Soon after the season had started however, Grant Jacobsen left Manchester to return to Texas and was replaced by Lucas Burnett.

On Sunday 15 February 2009, the Phoenix made club history after beating the Basingstoke Bison 6 – 1 (11 – 3 on aggregate) in the semi-final second leg of the challenge cup, booking a place in their first Cup Final and a two-legged tie with the Belfast Giants in March. There was to be no fairytale ending for the Phoenix, as the Belfast Giants lifted the Challenge Cup. Phoenix were also beaten in the Final of the British Knockout Cup by the same opponents. Manchester would be defeated in two legs by the eventual EIHL Playoff runners up, the Nottingham Panthers.[15]

Despite the two cup final defeats, the 2008–09 season was a positive one for on-ice operations for Manchester, with the team playing an attractive and far more successful style than in previous years. They would finish the season in sixth place but had spent much of the season in a far higher league position. The Phoenix fans also enjoyed the play of David-Alexandre Beauregard, who won several awards for 'EIHL Player of the Season' and, as a result of his play is regarded by many Phoenix fans as the greatest player to wear the shirt. Problems arose off-ice though, and the club again struggled to balance the books. As a result, at the end of the season, the club declared its intention to move into the English Premier Ice Hockey League.[16]

2009–10 season[edit]

Squad re-structuring for the 2009–10 season, the Phoenix' first outside of the EIHL, began immediately with the announcement by the organisation that not only would Tony Hand continue to play, but that he had signed a three-year deal as Phoenix Head Coach. Adam Walker, Luke Boothroyd, Carl Graham and Adam Summerfield were also confirmed as having been re-signed from the 2008–09 roster. They would be joined in a Phoenix shirt by returning goaltender Steve Fone as well as exciting British defenceman Joe Graham, young Scottish forward Iain Bowie and Phoenix ENIHL regular Ben Wood.[17]

Soon after Tony Hand would announce an exciting double coup with the addition of experienced EIHL and Calder Cup winner Andre Payette [18] as well as the confirmation of Ed Courtenay in a player/assistant coach role.[19] Ed Courtenay (Retired) And Carl Graham (To Bracknell Bees) have since left the Manchester Phoenix. However, 3 additions to the squad have been made in the form of Ryan Johnson, Stephen Wallace & Max Drakeley.

The team finished the season in 3rd place,[20] and qualified for the EPL post season play-offs. They defeated the Peterborough Phantons 6–5 on aggregate in the quarter finals [21] to progress to the finals weekend in Coventry, where they were defeated in their semi final by the Slough Jets.[22]

2010–11 season[edit]

The off season saw a major squad restructuring by player/coach Tony Hand, with a significant number of new signings, such as Pavel Gomeniuk,[23] Ben Morgan,[24] and highly rated youngster Rob Farmer.[25] Farmer however was later released from his contract after being drafted onto the roster of the Ottawa 67s in the Canadian Hockey League.[26] The club also announced the return of a few popular players such as Steve Fone,[27] and Luke Boothroyd.

However, this was tempered by the fact that longstanding club GM Andy Costigan was stepping aside from his role, which he had filled since the club's inception, due to pressures in his personal life[28]

Shortly after the start of the season, the team announced that one of the new signings from the summer, Dean Holland, was being released from his contract at his own request, and that they would begin to search for a replacement player with immediate effect.[29] This search took until mid November, when they announced the signing of controversial former Sheffield Steelers and Edinburgh Capitals enforcer Andrew Sharp.[30]

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.[31]

2011–12 season[edit]

The club began its work on building a squad to defend EPIHL title it claimed in the 2010–11 season on 27 March, when it announced that player/coach Tony Hand had extended his contract by a further 3 seasons in addition to the one left on his current contract. This extension would keep him at the club until 2015[32]

On 10 May 2011, the club announced 2 signings for the forthcoming season. Tom Duggan was announced as a returning player from the 2010–11 squad, and Slava Koulikov was announced as having been signed from the Slough Jets.[33][34] The squad building continued on 24 May when the club announced that Luke Boothroyd and Ladislav Harabin would be returning for the 2011–12 season.[35]

During the off season, it was announced that the club had set a new record for Season Ticket sales, having sold over 440, offering some proof that the move away from the EIHL has been a success both on and off the ice.[36][37]

On 30 October 2011, the club suffered a 3–0 defeat at home to the Basingstoke Bison, which ended a club record run of 212 consecutive games in which the Phoenix had scored at least 1 goal.

Despite losing player/coach Tony Hand to a serious injury,[38] 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[39]

2012–13 season[edit]

During the summer months of 2012, the club began rebuilding its squad for the forthcoming 2012–13 season, their 4th in the EPIHL. The initial players announced have seen the core of the previous season's squad return, with the addition of a handful of new players. There remains an uncertainty over the role of Tony Hand, as he has not yet announced whether he will continue playing, or retire and become a permanent bench coach, due to the additional responsibilities he now has as the GB national team coach. 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.[40]

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]

The Phoenix began building for the 2014–15 season in the EPIHL on 27 May, with the announcement that popular import forward Robin Kovar would be returning to the club.[41] This news was followed up on 3 June by the announcement that Frantisek Bakrlik would also be returning for a 2nd consecutive season, and former Phoenix EIHL and EPIHL Forward Adam Walker would also once more dress for the club.[42] On 10 June, two further names were announced with the teams net minding duo revealed. Popular net minder Stephen Fone returned to the club, and was joined by Declan Ryan, signed from the Telford Tigers.[43] On 24 June, another pair of signings was revealed as club captain Luke Boothroyd, and forward James Archer returned for another season in Altrincham.[44] 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.

Supporters club[edit]

For the first season of the Manchester Phoenixs' existence, the role of a 'Supporters' or 'Booster' club was fulfilled by the Friends of Manchester Ice Hockey (FOMIH) group. This was a multi-tiered entity, with different levels of membership giving different benefits.[45] FOMIH continued to exist during the club's non-playing seasons, but was not continued once the team resumed its on ice activities.

The Manchester Phoenix was without any form of official or unofficial supporters group until midway through the 2009–10 season, when the official Manchester Phoenix Supporters Club (MPSC) was launched. Currently, the supporters club is actively engaged in the raising of funds for the team, and has run a number of events designed to do as such. The Supporters Club also helped to pay the wages of one of the players during the 2009–10 season, and is doing the same during the 2010–11 season.[46] The Supporters Club is run by an elected board of volunteers, taken from the membership.

Community work[edit]

The Manchester Phoenix also announced that during the 2010–11 season, they would be launching their latest venture, which was to be the Manchester Phoenix Community Sports Foundation,.[47][48] This is the official charity of the Manchester Phoenix. The intentions of the foundation are to deliver a positive message to deprived children in the north west of England, and to promote a healthier lifestyle and access to sports.


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,[49] 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,[50] climbing to 1,027 in the 09–10 season.[51] 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.[52]

EPIHL roster 2014–15[edit]

Number Player Catches Acquired Place of Birth
31 United Kingdom Steve Fone L 2009 Rotherham, England
35 United Kingdom Declan Ryan L 2014 Whaley Bridge, England
Number Player Shoots Acquired Place of Birth
4 United Kingdom Luke Boothroyd R 2008 Huddersfield, England
12 United Kingdom James Neil R 2009 Nottingham, England
15 United Kingdom Ben Wood R 2009 Manchester, England
29 United Kingdom Joe Graham R 2013 Nottingham, England
38 Sweden Johan Burlin R 2014 Skellefteå, Sweden
Number Player Shoots Position Acquired Place of Birth
2 United Kingdom James Archer R RW 2010 Sheffield, England
9 United Kingdom Tony Hand R C 2006 Edinburgh, Scotland
10 United Kingdom Bobby Chamberlain R F 2014 Hull, England
13 Czech Republic Michal Psurny R RW 2012 Zlin, Czech Republic
20 United Kingdom Adam Walker R F 2014 Fife, Scotland
61 United Kingdom Jared Dickinson R F 2014 Salford, England
62 United Kingdom Jacob Corson-Heron R F 2013 Milton Keynes, England
66 Czech Republic Robin Kovář R C 2013 Valašské Meziříčí, Czech Republic
73 United Kingdom Shaun Thompson R F 2014 Slough, England
83 Czech Republic František Bakrlík L LW 2013 Litvinov, Czech Republic
93 United Kingdom Jack Watkins R F 2013 Durham, England
Number Staff Member Position Acquired Place of Birth
9 United Kingdom Tony Hand Player/Head Coach 2006 Edinburgh, Scotland
-- United Kingdom Craig Moran Assistant Coach 2014 England
-- United Kingdom Paul Turner Equipment Manager 2005 Sheffield, England

Non-returning players[edit]

Players confirmed as not returning to the club from the 2013–14 season;

Non-Returning Players
Number Player Acquired Released Released To
3 Czech Republic Robert Schnabel 2012 2014 Retired
19 United Kingdom Richard Bentham 2012 2014 Solway Sharks
30 United Kingdom Paul Maudsley 2014 2014 Manchester Minotaurs
35 United Kingdom Jorge El-Hage 2011 2014 No Team
91 United Kingdom Andy McKinney 2012 2014 Guildford Flames
92 United Kingdom Liam Chong 2012 2014 No Team

Club records[edit]

Appearances: Tony Hand: 385 appearances. (2006–present)[53]

Points (Overall): Tony Hand: 655 (2006–present)[53]

Points (Season): Tony Hand: 133 during regular season (2010–11)[54]

Goals (Season): Marcus Kristoffersson: 62 regular season (2010–11 season)[54]

PIMS: Tony Hand: 469[53]

Attendance Single Game (MEN Arena): 3,600 (estimate), Vs. London Racers, 14 September 2003[55]

Attendance Single Game (Altrincham): 2,100 (estimate), Vs. Basingstoke Bison, Sunday 3 March 2013,[56] Vs. Peterborough Phantoms, Saturday 8 March 2013[57]

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).[58] (details taken from club's official results database)

Honours and awards[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


  • 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[59]
  • 'EPIHL All Star 2nd Team'- Pavel Gomenyuk, Curtis Huppe[59]
  • 'EPIHL Player of the Year'- Tony Hand[59]
  • 'EPIHL Coach of the Year'- Tony Hand[59]


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


  • 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


  • 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



New York Islanders

Phoenix Coyotes

C Czech Republic Robin Kovář 123rd 2002 Edmonton Oilers


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External links[edit]