Running with the Herd: Bison vs Sheffield Steeldogs 01/10/2011

Final score:

Basingstoke Bison 3-2 Sheffield Steeldogs

Moria                         Payette

Petran                        Ozolins

Miller

Frustration overcome: Bison spent a lot of game huffing and puffing as they were pinned back by a very effective and well drilled Steeldogs team. The Steeldogs played a physical game clogging the passing lanes and disrupting the more skilled Herd. Finishing their checks, getting in the faces of the Bison players and just breaking up the plays worked very well. The issue with the Steeldogs game plan is that it gives their opposition a lot of time on the puck. Against more talented teams this tactic won’t work for 60 minutes of hockey. It did however work against Swindon last weekend and the Steeldogs came into Saturday night as league leaders. The result saw the Bison leap to the top of the table.

Bringing back the old magic: Andre Payette showed what he can do when the red mist hasn’t descended. He opened the scoring with a great individual effort where he out muscled his man, got Skinns to commit and poked the puck around the sprawling Bison keeper. He then celebrated in traditional Payette fashion, running his glove across the ice before punching the air.

Any bounce will do: The Bison’s first goal was a real fluke but came at a really important time as Steeldogs netminder and man of the match Ben Bowns stonewalled the Bison at every turn. The puck came to Nicky Chinn to the left of the keeper but he fanned on his shot. With the keeper and defenders committed, the puck fell to Steve Moria who couldn’t miss. Captain Chinn looked slightly embarrassed whilst celebrating and even the Bison fans felt a bit of sympathy for the impressive Bowns; not too much mind.

Do the Petran: The Slovak Cannon was on top form all evening, firing booming shot after booming shot on the Steeldogs net. The Bison’s second goal started the new dance craze sweeping the nation; Petran got the puck off the faceoff, fired on net and the puck somehow squeaked through Bowns into the Steeldogs net. Petran raised his hands above his head and did something that looked like he was trying to to jazz hands only with hockey gloves on so it looked more like a closed fist. Either way, it’s called “The Petran” and expect to see it in the stands at Bison games from now on.

Petran was rightly the Bison man of the match for his all around quality play on the night. He landed some fantastic open ice hits including one on Steeldogs’ Lewis Bell. Whilst it brought the crowd to their feet, had that been the NHL we might have been seeing a new video from Brenden Shanahan. Whilst the initial point of contact was the shoulder, the arm went up and appeared to catch Bell in the head a bit.

How did he miss that?: This week’s edition of “How did he miss that?” comes from a terrible slash on Marek Dubec that left Dubie in a heap on the floor having had his stick slashed clean out of his hands. Mr Boniface was reluctant to call many penalties all night on both sides but that one was utterly mystifying. Dubec was back out again the next shift but he did get some serious attention to the hand off the ice. One can only assume he gritted his teeth and got on with it.

Wiggins vs Payette: Pretty decent tilt this one at 53:00. Wiggins and Gomenuik were chatting away when Payette stepped in and offered the fight. With the game so close it looked like Wiggy might walk away from it but Payette threw down the gloves and went for Wiggins so off they went. A good couple of shots a piece and Wiggins slipped to the ice. Payette landed a few on Wiggins while he was down but doesn’t change the result; solid draw.

A word on our opponents: I said in my Steeldogs season preview that this team looked better than last season but were lacking in certain areas. I’ve always said that Payette appears to be a better coach than a player and I kind of think last night proved it.

The Steeldogs have strengthened from last year and Payette has them playing the system he’s preaching and sticking to it. The real issue for them in tight games could be the attacking threat as only Payette and Ozolins looked like scoring and they need more than two players in that regard. Greg Wood is an admirable choice as captain but he’s not the most offensively minded forward in the EPL. Our games with them will be close but chippy and will need tighter officiating to stamp out some of the niggling we saw last night.

Lowlight of the night: Watching the Bison get so frustrated and play right in to the Steeldogs game plan for the better part of two periods.

Highlight of the night: Lets all the “The Petran”, lets all the “The Petran”, la la la la, la la la la! If nothing else that was a sweet goal that found the smallest of small holes in Ben Bowns.

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