Running with the Herd – Bison vs Milton Keynes Lightning 22/10/11

Basingstoke Bison 0-1 Milton Keynes Lightning

                                  Jamieson (sh goal)

Frustrating progress: Good and bad things out of this game from a Bison perspective for me. The goal was as a result of a defensive lapse where Petran and Reynolds just seemed to let the puck sit on the blue line allowing Leigh Jamieson to dash past the flat footed duo and go five hole on Matt Colclough. Also getting shut out at home always really irks me. If you can’t score at home, where can you score? Then again I suppose this is why Viktor’s been signed.

That said it was a much better team performance defensively from the Bison which after recent games where they shipped 7 at home to Slough and 7 away in Guildford to only concede one is a definite sign of progress. Milton Keynes were missing Adam Brittle and Juraj Gracik which is two thirds of their top line so their offensive threat was dulled a bit but we should try and look at some of last night in a positive light despite the loss.

Goalie duel: What I enjoyed about the game was that it was a good old fashioned netminding duel between the Bison’s Matt Colclough and the Lightning’s Alex Mettam. Both keepers made some very good saves and were well positioned for a lot of other shots. Both keepers also took at least one shot in the mask last night. I mentioned in the MK preview I did that Mettam has been slowly brought on to do the sort of job he did last night but Colclough at 21 years of age looked very good despite his tender years. I honestly didn’t think he’d see as much time as he’s gotten so far but if he plays like that then he deserves to get starts against teams.

Marek Dubec: No comedy titles and I’ll go into greater depth about Marek leaving in his farewell article tomorrow but Dubec was the definition of the model professional. Whilst his performance on the whole probably spoke to why Moria has chosen to replace him, he could have just phoned it in and not really tried. Instead Dubec laced them up and went out every shift to give his all. After the end of the game once the customary team photo was done, someone had a photo taken with Dubec on the ice. He stopped, looked around, raised his stick and those left applauded the departing Slovakian off the ice. Say what you like about his play, the man was all class.

Still the home town boy: On a similar vein, Jacob Heron received very nice ovations before and after the game from the Lightning fans. I’ve sometimes been critical of MK fans but a classy move by the Barmy Army and I commend them for it.

Reffing confusion: Mr Thompson donned the armbands last night but sadly a fair few Bison fans were left confused by many of the decisions he made.

It was clear enough what Mr Thompson was trying to do. He was trying to let the game flow and not calling every single minute incidence of contact against players. I commend him for that but some of the decisions were downright mystifying.

He seemed to allow lots of hacks and slashes go on both sides but then randomly call innocuous things. Wiggins was at one point called for charging yet a MK player made a hit where he took 4 steps and left his feet but wasn’t called.

The most confusing one was a boarding call he gave to Dubec that wasn’t even close to being any infringement at all. I can only imagine what he would have given to Tommy Watkins for the hit he gave Liam Chong last week if what Dubec did was boarding.

Muzzy always do that?: Ah Michael Wales, he’s almost like my nemesis on this thing because I hate watching him play. Grant McPherson was unusually quiet but Wales’ antics against Petran more than made up for it. What frustrated me more I think was Thompson’s reluctance to call him for any of it. When Wales was goading Petran and getting in his face to the point Petran had little choice but defend himself, Thompson then called them both. Petran must have the patience of a saint because I was really thinking “he’s going to level him here” and it just never came.

I can hear a few people moaning at me so we’ll mentioned it; I know Wales is an agitator, he’s a very good agitator. He’s a solid 3rd line forward who can do a bit of everything. My issue is there’s a line between niggling and just being an outright wally and Wales was well over the border into Wally County somewhere around the midpoint of the first period. People tell me that Wiggins is as bad if not worse than Wiggins and in some respects I’d agree but Wiggins will answer the bell and I’m yet to see Wales do that. There’s onus on the Bison though to make him accountable for his actions out there as well. If that means dropping the gloves and taking him to task, so be it.

A word on our opponents: Very solid if unspectacular road game from the Lightning last night. They, like the Bison seemed to lack a bit of offensive bite but got their lead and defended solidly.

Mettam was the only real choice for the man of the match. Shutout win on the road having faced close to 40 shots (Bison outshot MK 16-6 in the final stanza) and just looking rock solid for the 60 minutes. Even I took a moment to congratulate him on my way out of the rink.

Lowlight of the night: Third period for the Bison. Having played really well for 40 minutes the boys just sadly seemed a bit flat in the final period when they really needed to push on harder. Obviously this is a transition period for the team with the arrival of a new import and hopefully that will change.

Highlight of the night: There was a point when Wiggins and MK defenseman Lewis Christie got caught up behind the net and were grabbing a hold of each other. Out of nowhere Wiggins gets a hand free and give Christie a little clip round the back of the helmet like a dad scolding a naughty child. Just a little comedy moment from last night that still has me laughing now.

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