BEES picked up just their second away win of the season to maintain their slim play-off hopes in the English Premier Ice Hockey League (EPIHL).

The comfortable 6-1 victory over basement side Telford Tigers sees Bees close the gap on eighth-placed Sheffield Steeldogs to seven points and, perhaps more significantly, halts their eight-match losing run.

If Bees are to make the post-season this year though then they will have to maintain the form they showed at Telford, which saw them score four times in a blistering opening period.

The quick-fire start was a complete contrast to so many games of late that have seen Bees struggle to keep up with their opponents in the early exchanges and go in behind at the first buzzer.

On this occasion they were ahead after just 6:49 minutes when captain Terry Miles latched onto a Nicky Watt pass and smashed a shot into the roof of the net.

The returning Alex Barker beat Declan Ryan to make it 2-0 and then Jaroslav Cesky scored twice in the space of eight seconds to put Bees firmly in charge.

At 18:29 the Czech star blasted home a powerplay goal from the blue line and he then scored nearly immediately from the restart with a shot from the left circle.

Despite their healthy advantage, Bees' Carl Ambler was still the busier of the two netminders in the opening period as the hosts out-shot the visitors 17-7.

The second period was a more even affair and it took until 33:17 for Bees to score their fifth, with Peter Jasik turning home a pass from Watt on the powerplay.

Unfortunately Ambler's bid for a first shut-out of the season was ended at 49:01 when he went behind the goal to play the puck and it bounced to Scott Mckenzie, who tapped into an empty net.

James Galazzi restored the five-goal cushion late on in the match but it was Ambler who was named man of the match due to his 37 saves.

Next up for Bracknell is a trip to Swindon Wildcats on Saturday (5.45pm f/o) before they host Basingstoke Bison on Sunday evening (6pm f/o).

******* ******* ****** FOUR unanswered goals in the opening period from Manchester Phoenix took the sting out of Bees on Saturday evening and ensured an attempted comeback came up short.

The second-from-bottom Bees matched the league leaders for much of the match at The Hive but they never recovered from a 4-0 deficit at the first buzzer.

Indeed, Curtis Huppe' goal after just 41 seconds gave Phoenix the perfect start and the Canadian doubled his tally minutes later to make it 2-0.

Michal Pinc and Jaroslav Cesky threatened to trouble the visitors on the breakaway and Pinc went closest for Bees when he slammed a shot against the post.

However, James Archer soon scored to make it 3-0 and Stephen Wallace made it a four-goal game when he netted before the first buzzer.

Bracknell struggled to fashion any clear-cut chances and Wallace got his second of the night at 31:40 to put Phoenix five goals ahead.

The home side did eventually break the shut-out when Nicky Watt back-handed in a pass from Cesky and they went on to dominate the third period.

Netminder Steve Fone made some smart saves to maintain Phoenix's four-goal cushion and when Bracknell did beat Fone with a powerful shot they were controversially denied a goal due to a hole in the net.

The referee decided that the goal wasn't legal as the puck sailed through the back of the net and animated protests from both Cesky and captain Terry Miles didn't change his mind.

Even the fact that the official had to tie the net back up didn't see the goal awarded to Bees and Huppe then delivered a sucker-punch when he sealed his hat-trick to make it 6-1.

A couple of powerplay goals late on from Michal Pinc made the scoreline more respectable but Bracknell left it too late to stage a successful comeback.