Updated: Sunday, 21st December 2014 @ 8:17am

Josh Ward urges Manchester Phoenix to keep up the pressure on Guildford Flames

Josh Ward urges Manchester Phoenix to keep up the pressure on Guildford Flames

By Steven Oldham Sports Correspondent

Manchester Phoenix’s Josh Ward wants the club to continue pressing leaders Guildford Flames as they take on Bracknell Bees twice this weekend.  

He said: “It’s a big weekend for us – we’re looking to keep up the pressure on Guildford and there’s a possibility we can catch them if they slip up – and we have a game in hand.”

Phoenix’s double header against Bracknell is the first of several double headers coming before the regular season finishes.

Second place Phoenix were beaten in overtime by Bracknell when the clubs met earlier in the season – something Josh wants to turn around this week. 

He said: “We were unlucky to lose in overtime against Bracknell – there was a little slip in concentration from the guys, but we’re confident of a four point weekend – that’s the only way we can think going into a weekend.” 

He believed they played better than their EPL semi final opponents Guildford, despite losing on aggregate.

Phoenix lost the second leg 3-2 on Wednesday night after drawing 2-2 with the league leaders at home last Saturday. 

Flames will now face Sheffield Steeldogs in the final after they beat Milton Keynes Lighning 1-0 on aggregate in the other semi. 

Josh said: “I think we played better over the six periods of hockey – we were unfortunate not to win.  Guildford had some lucky bounces of the puck in the lead up to their goals.  I think we deserved a place in the final.”

“We had tons of chances over the two games and played well away from home." 

So, now Phoenix are out of the competition, who does Josh think will win the cup? 

“It’s tough to call – in sport, anyone can beat anyone on the day.  I’d give it to Guildford at the moment, but Sheffield are on a good run in the league at the minute.”  

Recently, Josh scored his first goal for Phoenix in the 9-1 demolition of the league’s bottom team, Telford Tigers at the Ice Dome. 

He said: “It was brilliant to get my first goal – it’s been a long time – I’ve always been a pretty good goalscorer so it’s great to lift that pressure off my shoulders.” 

“It was lovely to score it at home with the noise from the fans – the rest of the team were very happy for me too.”  

Phoenix usually train on Thursday nights, with the cup game on Wednesday, Coach Tony Hand kept the session low key. 

“We just had some time on the ice with playing the night before.  We didn’t do anything too heavy.” 

Phoenix travel to Bracknell tomorrow and host them on Sunday evening at the Ice Dome – tickets are available via www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk or via the ice rink.