Also don’t forget to keep spreading the word about the Ryde Arena. BOTW’s micro-doc “Over Land and Sea” is here.
Direct download link for the file is here
So will this actually do anything?
I genuinely don’t know. As I say in the piece itself, this is what I can do. I appreciate in the grander scheme of things, one guy making a short piece like Over Land and Sea (OLAS) at speed like I have isn’t really a great deal but what I can do is make something like this to spread the message.
On this website I’ve written nearly 100 pieces a year for coming up to four years. I talk, I talk a lot. I’m not the most practically skilled of people but if I can use what skills I do have to help and to help keep somewhere that means a lot to people I know alive then call me an idealist or a fool, but I simply have to try.
I deliberately made this as short as I can so it’s easy to share because the message is what’s important here; that not only is there a facility that can work with the right model but that there’s a lot more past the idea that the rink is simply a “business” and a place where a hockey team I happen to like plays its games.
It’s pretty pointless even trying; the rink’s just not viable!
As I said in OLAS, Planet Ice think that the rink is not viable in the way they want to run a rink. That’s their right and their choice. I don’t have any issue with Planet Ice. What I disagree with is the timing of the decision to pull out and their assertion that the rink isn’t viable. It’s not viable in the current way it’s been run. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Now if Planet Ice has made their decision and wishes to step away then whilst I disagree with it, I’ll respect it but that makes getting the message out to save the rink more important.
Why is OLAS so hockey focussed?
Well, look around; this is Banners On The Wall; it’s a hockey website, this is what I know and this is what I do with my spare time. For those of you newer to what I do, BOTW is approaching it’s 4th birthday as a blog and the podcasting started back in October 2014 after years of being told I should give it a go. My contacts are primarily in the ice hockey world. The fact that all three people interviewed currently play NIHL2 for the Tigers is coincidental as they were the three who said they wanted to help and I’m working against the clock. Even Beckie who I spoke to about the ice dancing situation, is known to me because her other half is a hockey playing friend of mine. I appreciate it may feel a little hockey heavy as a result but I think the people interviewed make the overall point outside of hockey very well too.
What about the recent statement from the Isle of Wight Council?
This is certainly a very interesting development. The story is fast moving so naturally you can’t keep up with all developments at the speed you want. I don’t think it detracts from the point of OLAS which is to make known that the rink should be saved in whatever format is possible.
It doesn’t really cover everything!
No it doesn’t, nor could any piece 15 minutes long made in just over 36 hours really do it justice but the point of it is something short and easy to access to bring light to what’s happening.
So what is the answer then?
Obviously what the council have said puts the whole thing in a slightly different light however if some solution needs to be found, I’d plump towards a Community Interest Company being formed and running the rink as a social enterprise if it’s possible to do so, removing some of the commercial pressures of making a profit out of the equation. That said I think the leadership of such thing needs to come from islanders if that’s going to happen. A mainlander like me isn’t that in-tune to local concerns that would affect the place; people living on the island are much better placed to do such a thing though I’ll naturally lend any support I can give.
The council make a good point about looking at all options in their statement and ultimately any well structured solution that keeps the rink at Ryde going should be praised and evaluated.
So where shall I share it?
Anywhere and everywhere you can; I ask that you don’t claim it as your own work otherwise spread it far and wide. Any media enquiries about OLAS, please use the contact form on the podcast page.
A rally in support of the rink has been called for Sunday 22nd February outside the rink itself at 3:00pm. Go show your support if you can and then hang around to watch the juniors game.
Basingstoke Bison 5-1 Bracknell Bees
Rand Ivan Antonov
All it’s cracked up to bee: The Bison welcomed back Joe Baird which saw Michael Wales return to playing as a forward but remained without Selby, Rounding and Brendan Baird which left Stuart Mogg on defence. The Bees were without Lukas Smital who coached from the bench and added Thomas Relf, Ilya Antonov and former Bison, Danny Ingoldsby whilst starting another former Bison in Tom Annetts.
The game didn’t start well for the Bison; off the faceoff the Bees had the puck in their zone and Aaron Connolly lined up his man for the hit, bounced off his man and was flat on the ice. Play was stopped as players from both sides alerted the referee to the issue and Connolly was helped to his feet and helped from the ice, the Bison alternate captain clearly in no state to continue. It was followed up moments later with the Bees on attack by Stuart Mogg taking a puck off the throat but that was not enough to remove the makeshift defender from the game.
The game had a bit of a funny edge to it following the Connolly incident and the play was scrappy as Bracknell tried to play the same disrupting game they had a fortnight ago but were playing with much more purpose than the previous encounter. Sam Waller had a fantastic chance when he managed to dance through the entire Bison team but his shot went wide. However the Bison were the ones making more of the running; Karpov, Baird and Long all had chances either stopped by Annetts or, in the case of Karpov, Pavel Strycek.
The goal was coming and come it did in the form of Joe Rand; the Canadian took the feed from Nicky Chinn and snapped a shot short side over the glove of Annetts into the top corner of the net at 06:39.
Cameron Wynn’s big hit on Harvey Stead that left the Bees man with a bloody nose when he hit the floor showed that the Bison were not going to shirk the physical battle but the Bees were having a fair bit of pressure themselves. Danny Ingoldsby’s shot was blockered away by Skinns and a rare moment of panic in the Bison defence saw the net under siege but the hosts would eventually clear the danger.
Ingoldsby was trying to put himself around as much as possible and was drawing the ire of his former team mates. Vantroba hammered the young Bees forward that earned the Slovak a few choice words and a dig. Sadly for Ingoldsby he then got turned into something of a pinball as Vantroba gave him another knock only to be hammered again moments later by Declan Balmer.
The first drew to a close with the game poised at 1-0 but less than a minute into the second would see the Bison start to pull away. The Herd broke out and Doug Sheppard fed Joe Greener for a drive to the net and he would chip the puck through an available gap in Annetts for 2-0 at 20:52.
After Ryan Watt recovered from an awkward hit from James Galazzi that owed more to bad timing than genuine intent, the Bison thought they’d extended their lead when a Miroslav Vantroba drive saw the light come on after the puck hit the post but Mr Cloutman was insistent that the puck had hit two posts and rebounded out before being smothered by Annetts.
He could not do much about what came shortly afterwards as Greener added his second. Again Sheppard set his coaching assistant away and the former Bee bared down on goal and fired past the netminder for 3-0 at 22:20.
A brief period of 4on4 after Greener and Turner were both given roughing penalties yielded no goals as the teams traded chances; Wynn and Hubacek both going close. The Bison were called for too many men which gave the Bees their first powerplay of the night but they never got a chance to do anything with it as the Bison’s penalty kill frustrated and confounded the visitors, given them no chance to mount a proper attack.
Play wound on and when Tomas Karpov gained the zone on a 1on4 rush, the Bees initially struggled to contain him. Scott Spearing caught a hold of Karpov and when the two fell to the ice and the Bees man held on a little too long, Mr Cloutman sent him to the box to put the Bison on the man advantage.
It wasn’t the best of powerplays from the Herd as they struggled to get the puck moving with any great fluidity but as the man advantage ended, Cameron Wynn took the zone and laid the pass off to Ryan Watt. With all the Bees defenders converging on that side of the ice, Miroslav Vantroba started moving into the space left by the Bracknell defenders. Watt saw the space open up and fed the puck through the defenders for Vantroba to slap it past Annetts at 31:51 to make it 4-0.
The game suffered from a lack of chances for a bit as the Bison seemed content to just hold the Bees at bay, minimising their chances as the Bracknell game plan failed to make a breakthrough though Ilya Antonov came close with a stuff in attempt.
The Bison seemed content to sit back and take the chances as they came and they forced one out of the Bees. Forcing the turnover in the zone, Michael Wales found the puck on his stick in hopefully fired the puck towards the slot. Vantroba popped up again, stepping into the slot and hammering the puck past Annetts for the Bison’s 5th at 36:27.
The second wound down and the Bison had stamped their authority on the game which now felt beyond the reach of the visitors.
The third period started with a dump in off the boards falling to Ivan Antonov who drove the puck goalwards but it was an easy save for Skinns.
Ingoldsby hit Balmer that sent the Bison defender into the boards that saw him stay down briefly. It was a hit that saw the nearest Bison go straight to Ingoldsby to have a few choice words. As that was Tomas Karpov, necessarily all the other Bison raced towards the incident because you don’t want your star import potentially fighting at all, let alone an under 18 in a facecage who has been the opposition’s most physical player. The only outcome was a boarding penalty for Ingoldsby but the powerplay came to nothing.
The Bison had reverted to their shutdown plan; play solidly and hold the Bees at bay and any shots that come in will be ones that Dean Skinns will stop and this was the pattern that followed as Ingoldsby and Towalski came close. The Bison had chances through Karpov, whose first chance was a blast that was frozen into Annetts’ pads by Lewis Turner and a second where he was sprung behind the defence by Annetts made the initial save and that off the rebound from Ryan Watt.
Then out of nowhere, the shutout for Dean Skinns was gone. Ivan Antonov took the zone, spun and fired and somehow the puck ended up going through the five hole of Skinns at 51:16. Antonov seemed shocked that the puck had gone in but he wasn’t going to argue.
The Bees then had a powerplay chance when Declan Balmer was called for elbows, the best chance falling to Hubacek but Skinns was equal to the shot.
The game started to die out, both teams more than aware of the result of the game and final buzzer sounded to herald the continuing good run of form as the Bison head into a big game in Peterborough on Sunday night.
Wins and losses: The biggest loss from last night is of course that of Aaron Connolly. The Bison alternate captain was taken to the room and was on the bench at the end of the game for the handshakes. Connolly should be rights be missing the game with Peterborough and possibly the midweek game in Guildford but most important is that Aaron rests up and gets well soon.
The game on the whole for the Bison was, as the previous Bees game and the Steeldogs game last week, a professional job well done. The Herd didn’t need to get out of second gear for the most part and when they did in the second period, they blew the visitors away with comparative ease.
Miroslav Vantroba was a fair choice for man of the match; a rare two goal outing from the big Slovak and denied a third by the width of the pipe. It wasn’t a game where he and his colleagues on the blueline, excellent though they were, needed to be excellent and his added offensive outburst helped by some excellent vision by his team mates is what pushed him over the line. Rarely is a defender on course for a natural hattrick.
Joe Greener as well took his two strikes very well and the link up play of that line with Sheppard and Long is still firing on all cylinders. If the Bison are going to come close to retaining the playoff title, you have to think that this line will be front and centre to achieving that.
The loss of Connolly early obviously resulted in some shuffling of the lines and positions but the lines managed to make something work. Rand, Chinn and Wales wasn’t the fastest line ever seen but it was gritty and frustrated Bracknell’s attempts to frustrate them. The line of Wynn, Karpov and Watt came very close to scoring but sadly never got the final touch but Watt’s pass to Vantroba for his first was an absolute beauty.
The loss of Connolly is a bad one but two defencemen down, the Bison found a way to survive and make it through. It’s a blow and we want Aaron back quickly but this team has found ways to adapt before and they will again.
A word on our opponents: The scoreline may not reflect it but this was much better from the Bees, particularly the first period. There was positivity, energy and some element in direction in their play that was lacking a couple of weeks ago. The problem of course was the same problem as two weeks ago; the lack of quality told.
Danny Ingoldsby was given man of the match for an energetic performance. He was given a few bits of stick from the crowd upon his return and I’m not entirely sure why. Bar one badly timed hit, he did nothing that he didn’t do in a Bison jersey. Between himself and the Antonov brothers, they were the majority of the Bees’ offensive energies.
I actually thought man of the match should have gone to Lewis Turner who, despite the Bees conceding five goals I thought had one of the better games on the Bees side. He made a variety of defensive plays that helped stop the scoreline creep up. Where I thought Strycek did that job a couple of weeks ago, Turner did last night.
Otherwise there’s not a great more to say about the Bees that hasn’t already been said. With Milton Keynes winning last night against Peterborough, the Bees are now 14 points adrift at the bottom of the table. Even the most optimistic and hardened Bees fan probably has to admit that the playoffs are now out of their reach. They just don’t have the talent on the roster at the moment to compete. It’s a crying shame given the effort that they put in as a team.
Lowlight of the night: Connolly’s injury; unfortunate and an utter accident.
Highlight of the night: Vantroba’s first goal; great bit of vision from Vantroba to find the space, Watt to make the pass and a great finish to boot.
Back once again to bring you British hockey through that EPIHL lense; it’s the BOTW Podcast.
Episode 12 sees Anthony go solo as he covers Telford and Swindon scrapping, how the leagues deal with discipline, how viable is the Champions Hockey League now the tournament has finished and all the usual results and fixtures.
Have a happy hockey weekend everyone!
The BOTW Podcast; the news and views from the EPIHL, all levels above, below and in between.
P.S. I make mention in the show of a page on the website of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, that’s here.
Basingstoke Bison 6-1 Sheffield Steeldogs
Connolly pp Calvert pp
Long sh dp
Greener 4on3 pp
Put a muzzle on them: The Bison line-up was the same as it has been in recent weeks; Wales and Mogg continuing on defence in the absence of the Baird brothers with Rounding and Selby still out. The Steeldogs headed into the game as expected with Dalibor Sedlar starting in the net.
That wasn’t the first major talking point however as the warm-up saw the teams nearly come to blows. Words exchanged between the sides which lead to Steeldogs player/coach Andre Payette taking a shot at Aaron Connolly. The players slashed at each other’s sticks but eventually sanity and warm-up drills were restored. It sort of set the tone for the evening.
When Craig Elliott got called for crosschecking off of the faceoff, the Bison needed to make the early man advantage count and did so. The Steeldogs cleared the puck and the Herd advanced up the ice; Melachrino hit the blue line, laid off the pass for Aaron Connolly who took a couple of steps and riffled a shot past the glove of Sedlar at 01:18.
Then we all blinked and there was Callum Pattison punching Michael Wales on the floor. Nobody really saw where it came from and it didn’t last very long but the Bison were back on the powerplay as a result and just over a minute later it was another goal. A large scramble in front of Sedlar’s goal saw a couple of people take a swing at the puck but it was Joe Rand who was eventually credited with getting the key final touch over the line at 03:59 for 2-0.
The Bison kept the pressure on but soon had to face off their own penalty killing situation when a big hit from Chinn was called as elbows but there was nothing coming for the visitors. They did have a massive chance after the powerplay expired when Balmer and Vantroba fell over each other giving Greg Wood all the time in the world in front of Skinns but the Steeldogs captain couldn’t find a way past the Bison netminder who maintained his composure.
The Bison went forward again but when Joe Greener barrelled through Dalibor Sedlar as he crashed the net, the Bison forward was called for interference as the Steeldogs netminder was sent sprawling to the ice. The visitors however would secure their own undoing when some poor play in their own zone turned the puck over to Tomas Karpov who fed Ciaran Long in front who found a way to get the puck over the line past Sedlar for 3-0.
The Steeldogs seemed to be determined to be the masters of their own demise in the first period; when Tomas Karpov was called for tripping, rather then let the situation lie, Payette steamed into Nicky Chinn getting himself called for charging which put the teams to 4on4. The Steeldogs sent out Korhon and Ozolins for the 4on4 situation but with Payette in the box and Sedlar still in goal and some Bison shouting, Mr Thompson was alerted and called the Steeldogs for the infraction. The extra space of the 4on3 powerplay allowed the Bison to move the puck about and in his usual space to the keeper’s left, Joe Greener was found and lifted the puck over the pad of Sedlar at 19:21 to make it 4-0 and end the first period with Bison fans in a good mood and everyone connected with Sheffield scratching their heads.
The second period started off with more chances for the Bison, Long and Sheppard going close before Tom Squires was called for tripping. The Bison powerplay couldn’t find a way past Sedlar but the visitors first crosschecked Karpov onto their netminder then Steve Duncombe crosschecked Long onto his own netminder, earning himself a crosschecking penalty. Despite the extended time on the man advantage, no goals were coming.
The teams traded penalties as Connolly then Wood were both called for slashing with no goals coming. The Steeldogs came close when Korhon fed Gibson but the shot went wide and Gibson was hit into the boards by Greener which was called as tripping giving the visitors a powerplay that would last into the final period, the Bison still leading 4-0 as the buzzer went.
The physical edge of the game was on display in the opening moments of the third period; Connolly laid a big hit on Duncombe and Payette had words with Michael Wales and even a hug with Nicky Chinn as the opposing coach and captain sought to prove to Mr Thompson that yes, they could get along.
Ciaran Long was called for hooking and the Steeldogs finally managed to break down the defences of the Bison as some neat passing set up Ashley Calvert for a blast from the hashmarks that beat Skinns at 44:02 leaving the hunt for the club shutout record ongoing.
The teams traded chances as Squires, Karpov and Gibson all went close but no dent was made on the scoreboard. The time was ticking down and the Steeldogs were still in the game and the next goal was going to prove crucial to the outcome of the game.
After Miroslav Vantroba rang one of the post, the Bison put an end to the Steeldogs’ attempts to revive the game. Tomas Karpov got the puck in the corner, walked out on net and used his patented toe drag move to draw Sedlar down and fire past him at 53:46.
The penalty minutes were still being handed out with frequency as Andre Payette continued on his mission to get somebody into the penalty box with him. Eventually Ryan Watt decided to briefly engage and the two chatted and whacked away at one another, Watt taking an extra two minutes to give the Steeldogs the powerplay which was negated almost immediately when a clumsy open ice hit from Janis Ozolins caught Greener high and the former EPL player of the year was given 2+10 for checking to the head.
With Ozolins still in the box, the Bison rounded out the scoring. Joe Rand won the faceoff to Cameron Wynn who managed to slide the puck past Sedlar at 58:58 to send the Herd fans home happy and continued the Bison’s recent excellent run at home.
Take it as it comes: Last night’s game was weird to watch but it was a game that was a microcosm of what the Bison have been in recent weeks; successful through being professional. Now that’s not to say there haven’t been wobbles and setbacks along the way but in games of various shapes and styles the team puts their head down and work out the win. In a game like last night’s where their opponents’ play ranged from good to “what the hell are they doing?” this was really the only approach to take. It worked.
Aaron Connolly was a good choice for man of the match on the whole for another workmanlike performance and a very well taken goal that seems to see the Bison alternate captain returning to goalscoring form at the right time of the season. His upswing in performance couldn’t be coming at a better time with the playoffs in sight.
Dean Skinns will feel unlucky not to have gotten the shutout on the night having faced only 16 shots but he did make a variety of good saves when called into action. The whole defensive corps had a decent night, bar Balmer and Vantroba falling over each other but this makeshift blueline unit seems to be working. Stuart Mogg has looked better with every game and Michael Wales was at his agitating and penalty drawing best, even taking Pattison’s fist a few times for his troubles.
Tomas Karpov’s goal was a thing of beauty and whilst many have argued he’s not the player he was last year (I disagree for a variety of reasons and I’ll explain why another time) he showed with the goal what the real danger of taking your eye off of him is. Combined with the usual danger of the Greener, Sheppard and Long line, there was trouble wherever the Steeldogs looked.
It was the Bison’s only game of the weekend so they left it all out there. They spend today watching and waiting to see what Bracknell team appears next week.
A word on our opponents: I’ll be literal on this if I may; bizarre. The first period was the reminiscent of a game against the Steeldogs a while ago where I described it as having paid to have a brick thrown in my face, the second saw the visitors play some half way decent hockey that resulted in only 3 shots and the third was a sort of mixture of the two.
Andre Payette’s antics aside, if I was a Steeldogs fan I’m not happy with the performance overall. There was no real direction, at times no cohesion and it left me with no idea. I joked to a couple of people that the report for this game was going to be a picture of me shrugging my shoulders because I had no real idea as to how to write up what I was watching.
Steve Duncombe was as good a choice as any for man of the match. Korhon and Ozolins were ineffectual, the Bison effectively ended the game as a contest in the first period as nobody was really supporting Sedlar who was at least trying but yeah, I’m stumped. There’s no way to really analyse what I saw.
Last week it was obvious watching Bracknell that they had the drive but not the ability. Sheffield have the ability and instead gave us that. I’m not sure which is worse.
Lowlight of the night: The Steeldogs goal; well taken but we were willing on Deano for the shutout.
Highlight of the night: Nice to watch us properly put a team to the sword, or as close as Sheppard hockey will get us to.
Basingstoke Bison 4-0 Bracknell Bees
Don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that sting: The Bison headed into the game still without Selby, Rounding and the Baird brothers so Michael Wales and Stuart Mogg continued on defence. The Bees added Josh Tetlow and Ilya Antonov, brother of Ivan and started Alex Mettam in goal.
Ryan Watt started the game off by lining Sam Waller up on the first shift and landing a decent sized hit. The Herd then quickly found themselves on the powerplay as Bees captain Matt Foord was called for hooking. The Bison went immediately to the attack and were creating chances, Vantroba going the closest with a trademark blast but there was no way past Alex Mettam in the early going.
The Herd were having the better of the play but the Bees’ gameplan was to stifle the forward movement of the puck and the pace quickly went out of the game as the visitors were using a tactic that had worked for them before against the Bison; take away the passing lanes. However the Herd found a way through as Ciaran Long found Joe Greener who managed to squeeze the puck shortside between Mettam and the post to give the Bison the lead at 06:13.
The hosts were then quickly back on the attack when Radek Hubacek got his stick up into the face of Joe Rand earning the Czech import a seat in the penalty box. Again the Bison ratcheted up the attack but couldn’t find a way to get the puck into the net with the extra man.
The Bees were having the occasional chance; Lukas Smital forced a really good kick save out of Dean Skinns. The Herd were still having the balance of the play but a tripping penalty to Karpov gave the Bees an opportunity to get themselves back into the tie but they were frustrated by some good penalty killing from the Bison and some inept passing on their own end. The Bison nearly conjured a chance as Karpov left the box as the Czech man found Greener who set up Sheppard but his shot went wide. The first ended with the Bison deservedly 1-0 ahead.
The Bees had the first real chance of the second when they worked themselves behind the Bison back line but some good defensive work to tie up Hubacek meant that the Bees man couldn’t get a shot away and the former team mates tumbled and took out the goal.
The Bees would rue that missed chance as the Bison doubled their advantage moments later when the puck was fired across the seam and Ciaran Long was on hand to redirect the puck past Mettam at 22:03 to make it 2-0.
Dean Skinns hadn’t been greatly challenged at the other end but was soon called into action, being forced into two massive saves in quick succession as he denied first Matt Towalski then Hubacek as the Bees swarmed around his net but no Bracknell player on hand to get the needed touch on the puck. He would also deny Smital, Strycek and Jan Bendik in the course of the period.
However it was the Bison still making most of the going in a period that was the very definition of the word, disjointed. Neither side could get any really flowing moves going but this didn’t stop the attempts; Long and Karpov both had chances straight up the middle where the Bees defender on them should arguably have been called for penalties. Andy Melachrino set up Ryan Watt but a stick got in the way of the shot and the puck looped away over the net. Aaron Connolly had the best chance as a stretch pass put him behind the defence but Mettam kicked out the his right leg and deflected the puck away.
Lewis Turner was called for tripping Joe Greener as the second period wound down and the hosts headed into the third period with a 2-0 lead and over a minute of powerplay to deal with.
The Bison couldn’t make the man advantage count and Dean Skinns had to be on guard as Smital broke away at the end of the powerplay but the Bison backstop kept the Bees player/coach at bay.
The next Bison powerplay, courtesy of a clipping call to Josh Tetlow would be wholly more productive as the special teams unit went to work and Greener fed Karpov who fed Rand and the Canadian would fire past Mettam at 45:30 for 3-0.
The final nail was in the Bees’ coffin moments later when Ciaran Long drove the puck along the ice and Andy Melachrino’s deflection tipped the puck over the shoulder of Mettam at 46:34 for 4-0.
That 4th goal knocked the stuffing out of the Bees and the game itself somewhat but both teams pressed on. There was a scramble in front of Skinns’ net shortly afterwards but the Bison cleared the danger. Hubacek and Wales clashed off the play and both got a seat for their troubles but the extra space of 4on4 play yielded no scoring.
Scott Spearing was challenged for the puck at the Bison blueline but came away with the puck and fired goalwards which Skinns got down to save but some indiscipline from James Galazzi saw him shove a couple of Bison players in front of the net after the whistle and the Bison were back on the powerplay.
Nothing came of the man advantage and the clock wound down on Dean Skinns’ second shutout of the season and another home win for the Bison.
Empty nest: There are times when the Bison as a team get accused of playing to their opponents; when they play Telford they prove they’re a match for the best in the league and when the play lower ranked opposition, they play down to their level and it generally goes wrong. This wasn’t the case last night for the Bison as they pressed their dominance on the game and, in truth, never needed to get out of second gear.
Some might argue that any shutout is a big achievement in this league and for Dean Skinns to be denied the man of the match beers for that performance isn’t particularly fair but in a 20 shot shutout (the Bison had 17 shots in the third alone) against a side that brought nothing to the table in the context of the game, Ciaran Long was the better choice.
Long’s work rate, energy and creativity got him man of the match; his assist on Melachrino’s goal was particularly nice and that line with Sheppard and Greener just seems to really work at the moment. They look and pose a serious threat to all EPL sides and long may it continue.
Stuart Mogg and Michael Wales’ duties deputising on defence were not massively tested but both deserve a deal of credit for playing so confidently and efficiently out of position. The support they’re getting on the ice from Reynolds, Vantroba and Balmer who do it every game and some good coaching and line matching means that whilst the arrangement having 2 forwards playing on the blueline isn’t ideal, the stop gap is more than adequate.
It’s hard in some ways to take a lot from that game looking back over the 60 minutes of hockey that we saw but it was a potential banana skin and Bracknell have proven they can knock teams off their perch in the league. The Bison’s approach was the correct one, they outclassed their opponent and march onwards to Manchester.
A word on our opponents: Let’s try and take some positives out of last night for the Bees; Ivan Antonov and Lukas Smital work very well together and you can see why they have been such a potent attacking force. Pavel Strycek, who should have got man of the match beers, was a permanent thorn in the side of the Bison attack and stopped the game becoming a cricket score with his defensive plays. Josh Tetlow looks like a decent prospect. He certainly has the size though needs fine tuning on his positioning but that will no doubt come in time.
Other than the above there’s not much a Bees fan can really take from that game bar a sense of disappointment; Bracknell were woeful.
It is not rare to see a team play a conservative trap against the Bison, maybe even go with a 1-3-1 neutral zone trap; the Bison are a passing team and the way to knock them off their game is to take away the passing lanes. The issue is that when that doesn’t work, you need to alter the game plan. The Bees played a really conservative 1-4 trap where the forechecker wasn’t even really going in that high then the Bison score and they keep doing the same thing and arguably parked the bus even more than they had been. They needed to score, they needed to press and it’s not like this Bison team with 2 stand in defencemen couldn’t have been pressured into mistakes but it didn’t seem to occur to Coach Smital to get them to do that and I can’t imagine why.
When the Bees did have the puck there was no real spark going forward. They had a couple of chances, a couple of frantic moments in front of Skinns but nothing fell for them. Antonov was a lot of huff and puff but no end product on the night and, whilst I hate using it as an indicator of much, 20 shots won’t get you anywhere.
I’ve said this before; the Bees have a lot of heart and hustle but lack depth and quality. There was no bigger indicator of that than this game.
Lowlight of the night: The game was dull.
Highlight of the night: The Bison put the foot on the throat and got the shutout without switching off.
It is time to rock and roll with another episode and whilst our focus is the EPIHL, we’re looking a show with British hockey at it’s heart so…let’s look at the Elite League.
We’ve kind of sidelined the top tier of British hockey a bit on the show so who better to get than “Doc” Stuart Coles, the editor of “On Fire”, the Coventry Blaze monthly magazine and occasional commentator on their webcasts. Anthony and Stu talk about everything from the Blaze to the EIHL’s TV deal to what would happen if Telford tried to leave the EPL and more. Add in the usual coverage of news, results and fixtures, you are set for the weekend.
The BOTW Podcast; the news and views from the EPIHL, all levels above, below and in between.