BRACKNELL Bees secured their first home win of 2017 when defeating Manchester Phoenix 5-1 on Saturday.

It was fully deserved but very predictable as the cash-strapped visitors are skating on thin ice, and may be forced out of business.

They have already thrown their imports over board to save money, leaving them so short of players that their regulars were outnumbered by Bees mascots.

Phoenix were only able to fulfil the fixture due to them being allowed to borrow nine National League players, equally divided between Oxford City Stars, Bristol Pitbulls and Solent Devils.

They worked hard ,but the gulf between the two leagues was easy to see and Bees should have won more easily than they did, managing to score just five times from 45 goal attempts.

Phoenix net-minder Stephen Fone had hardly time to breathe during the 60 minutes and it was puzzling that he was not voted his side’s man of the match. Instead, it went to their goal scorer, Michael Whillock from Oxford.

Perhaps the judges thought he deserved it for being the only player to beat young Matt Smital, who faced 13 shots in a rare appearance between the pipes.

The match was virtually over as a contest well before the end of the first period as Bees coasted into a three-goal lead.

Rio Grinell-Parke opened the scoring in the fifth minute with Carl Thompson and Luka Basic providing the assists.

Alex Barker doubled their advantage just before the 10th-minute mark when he picked up a pass from Lukas Smital.

Smital raced through only to find Fone in his way, but moments the player-coach skated around the Phoenix net to set up the third goal for Shaun Thompson.

At the time, Bees were a man short with James Galazzi in the sin-bin for a slashing offence.

Thompson missed a good chance to add a fourth before the end of the period.

Both he and Smital worked well together and, with Barker also involved, the combination made it 4-0 on 23:543 with the player-coach providing the final touch.

The third period was two minutes old when Whillock pulled a goal back, but Bees dominated the rest of the game and their fifth goal came on 52:11 with Josh Smith first to react when Danny Ingoldsby’s effort came back off Fone’s pads.

Barker took the man-of-the-match award.

Bees made one change for Sunday’s game at Telford with Alex Mettam returning as net-minder. He was only beaten once in the opening period and that was by Jason Silverthorn on 7:35, though Bees quickly levelled through Smital aftrer good work from Barker and Thompson.

The second period proved a disaster for Bees as the Tigers stuck their claws into them with strikes four goals, two of them coming on power play.

Telford’s fifth on 45:45 also came when Bracknell had a man in the sin bin.

Bees pulled one back through Ingoldsby on 51:07, with Olegs Lascenko and Galazzi creating the chance.

Frustration crept into Bracknell’s play in the final 20 minutes with Josh Tetlow getting two plus two for a roughing offence with Adam Jones.

The young defender returned to the ice but within five minutes he was back in the sin bin after fighting with Doug Clarkson.

But Tetlow left an impression as he was named Bracknell’s man of the match.

There could be more cross swords this Sunday when Hull Pirates visit The Hive (6pm).

Scott Spearing, who has been sidelined for six weeks with a back problem, says he hopes to return to action this week.

Rupert Quiney is still recovering from a shoulder injury and had to pull out of the Great Britain team now in Kazakhstan for the 28th World University Winter Games. But Bees are represented with equipment manager Brian Miller doing a similar job with the GB Women’s squad.