Running with the Herd: Bison vs Guildford Flames 18/9/2011

Final score:

Basingstoke Bison 4-3 Guildford Flames

Chong                         Rempel

Petran x2                    Longstaff

Dubec                         Towe

Work rate wins games: OK it was only a challenge game but a win is a win and if anything the scoreline flattered Guildford a tiny bit. The main reason the Bison won was they had superior work rate across the 60 minutes. The Bison controlled the tempo for the majority of the game and, despite being out shot, looked the more likely to score when they did shoot. Both teams are still getting used to each other but the Bison outworked the Flames for the most part. Ergo, winning.

Load the Slovak Cannon!: For those fans worried about Marcel Petran replacing Mindy Kieras, fear ye not my brothers and sisters. Both of Petran’s goals came as a result of booming shots.

The first during a 5on3 off of a lovely pass by Nicky Chinn where the shot was just too fast for Mark Lee to do anything with. The second saw some great work from the third line to screen the goalie and feed the puck back to Petran who fired and got a bit of a lucky deflection in off a Flames player but they all count.

Petran looks solid positionally with a couple of different partners on the blue line and with that shot he is going to be fun to watch.

Energizer Bunny: Can somebody remind me to ask Liam Chong what he has for breakfast?

The opinions of Bison fans I’ve spoken to and read on forums seem to be nearly universal; he has speed to burn, he finishes his checks as Branislav Kvetan found out, he can pass, he can score. He showed signs of promise when he played up last season but he appears to be ready for EPL full time and we’re lucky to have him here.

With Bronnimann sitting last night out (reportedly due to a stiff shoulder) Chong saw time on the 2nd and 3rd lines and looked very impressive into the bargain. He appears to be able to throw the hits and take the body which he’ll need to do on the 3rd line but has a scoring touch too. We could see a few #92 jerseys in the crowd before too long, people are warming up to him quickly.

Goalie depth: A great performance from Matt Colclough saw him collect the man of the match beers which I thought was a fair shout. With Dean Skinns having played 60 minutes the night before it was good to get 60 minutes of watching Matt Colclough against slightly tougher opponents than he’d faced in the ENL and he gave a really good account of himself I thought. He’ll likely be a bit cross about goals 2 and 3 as they were tapped in from close range but the first goal he could do little about. If nothing else it should give the fans some confidence that either of our netminders are up to the task of facing any of the offences in the EPL this season.

Dubec: A top line forward who likes to throw hits? Sign me up for some of that please! A productive performance from another of the new imports and his goal was just lovely. As David Savage tried to control the puck on the Flames blue line, Dubec lifted his stick and was away. He raced in on Mark Lee, deked him out of his shorts, pulled the keeper down and shot high. It was a lovely goal and if he can produce a few more of those that’ll be just lovely thanks Marek.

Volrab and Miller Time: This one may take a while to get going but there were some encouraging flashes. Mo changed the lines up in the third but for the first two periods we had a line of Volrab with Chinn and Miller which looked good but where they really shone was the link up play between the Czech and the former Phoenix forward. They seemed to be of a similar mindset and were pulling off some sublime drop passes and little taps to each other. They didn’t always work but that will come with training and game time together. I’d like to see Mo stick with it a bit more. In the 3rd Miller moved to a line with Moria and Chong and Dubec moved to play with Volrab and Chinn which also worked but I really enjoyed the interplay between Daniel and Joe.

A word on our opponents: Flames looked OK but it just didn’t seem to click too well for them. Talent galore but they may take a while to fully come together and do the damage predicted of them. Mark Lee made some stunning saves, nothing new there really but some were just lovely. Nathan Rempel was a good choice for man of the match as he was their best player all night. Kvetan their new import d man was a bit anonymous I thought but looked solid enough. It’ll come Flames fans, it’ll come.

Lowlight of the night: The officiating sadly was just outright baffling. Mr Szuchs seemed to have a real issue with Chris Wiggins when a couple of the calls were questionable to say the least. The real humdinger was the telling off of DJ Bavy for his choice of music which he thought was mocking him. “A little less conversation! by Elvis will be added to the list alongside “Making plans for Nigel”.

Highlight of the night: A good solid all round team performance for the W. Challenge games don’t score points but momentum and confidence in the team must be high now after 2 good wins over a team widely tipped to be championship contenders. The crystal balls that predicted a 6th or even 7th placed finish for the Herd might need smashing. There’s a long way to go but we can be impressed with that and hope there’s more to come. Send in the Bees.

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