Running with the Herd – Bison vs Guildford Flames 31/12/11Posted: 01/01/2012
Basingstoke Bison 5-2 Guildford Flames
Change of colour, change of fortune: No Stephen Wall in net, no Chris Wiggins due to suspension and the team playing in their black road jerseys at home against a team coming into the game on the back of a 13 game winning run; it was going to be a weird night whatever happened but it wasn’t a Jeckel and Hyde Bison performance. Instead it was consistent, urgent, focussed Bison who looked the better side for 60 minutes.
Matt Colclough started in net being backed up by Connor Standing and Bison under 18 standout Cameron Wynn was added to the bench as an extra forward though sadly didn’t see a shift.
Flames scored first but something interesting happened. Towe checked Kubenko off the puck cleanly (despite Bison fans’ own ideas) and Guildford broke down the ice and Towe finished what he started. The reaction of the Bison was the interesting thing; giving up the first goal seems to be a weakness of the side but their reaction was to get angry and then get even. An aggressive powerplay from the Bison saw a Volrab shot deflect off of Mark Lee and sit in the paint which Joe Miller pounced on to backhand home. From there the Bison pressed on as the Dangerous Duo swapped places with Miller feeding Volrab who gained the zone and fired a brilliant wrist shot past Mark Lee for 2-1 at the break.
The initial fear so far this season has been the Bison having a lead then sitting back on it. We’ve seen it happen a few times home and away this season where the Bison have responded to the lead by sitting back. Not a chance this time as the Bison came out flying in the second. The ever energetic duo of Liam Chong and Jacob Heron caused issues for the Flames all night with their speed and effective forechecking. Heron forced a turnover in the zone and fired a speedy wrist shot on goal that deflected off of Craig Tribe’s arm past Lee, the former Bracknell Hornet getting the credit for the goal. Then the next shift Kubenko fed the puck out from behind the net to Nicky Chinn and 4-1 Bison after 23 odd minutes. Flames called a timeout to settle the nerves but the Bison fans were rocking. Personally I was a bit more reserved. We’d seen the team blow bigger leads but this night did feel different. The team seemed and looked more urgent in their play. They were getting to the puck first and looked the better team. However you can’t count the Flames out at any stage. With a Bison powerplay ticking down, Nathan Rempel let fire with an amazing wrist shot from just inside the blueline that found a way under Matt Colclough’s right arm and in. 4-2 and everyone tensed up just a little bit.
At the end of the period break, Mark Strain the Bison webmaster said to me “next goal wins”. He was right. Rather than simply trying to defend the lead, Bison kept flying at Guildford and looked to build on the good work they had done. Just under 4 minutes into the final period Volrab sprung Bronnimann who showed some of the promise that has been lacking in recent weeks as he sprinted in and fired past Lee to make it 5-2
Both keepers made some excellent saves as the clock wound down but ultimately Guildford couldn’t find a way past #93 who rose to the occasion once again.
Odd choices: Not taking anything away from the lovely and newly married couple who presented the man of the match beers (congratulations by the way) but the choice of Kurt Reynolds and Jez Lundin were odd ones I thought.
Reynolds had a good game, nearly all the Bison did but the performances of Danial Volrab and Matt Colclough really stood out ahead of the others. The other I’d throw in would be Dan Harris who was solid as well as some added defensive heroics, throwing himself in front of shot after shot, getting a bruised hand in the process.
For the Flames, Matt Towe was really the only candidate for me. Lundin, who I readily admit to not liking in the slightest, didn’t do a lot wrong but he didn’t really do a lot of anything at all. Towe on the other hand was the biggest threat from the Flames all night, scored a goal and generally looked like one of the best players on the ice across both teams. I realise it’s all subjective how people choose the man of the match but I just think the choices could have been better.
What a Christmas present: Well, where have the boys been hiding that? It was a the sort of performance we all know this team is capable of! 60 minutes of hard, focussed, well executed hockey to defeat the team at the top of the table. All three lines looked capable of scoring whenever they made the zone and, more importantly, team defence was outstanding all night. Colclough was great but there was good play in front of him by the d as well as the forwards not losing their men at crucial moments. Colclough made the saves, people cleaned up the mess and got the puck out of the zone. Simple things done right wins hockey games. The trick for the Bison is reproducing this on a regular basis and the lads will cause problems for every team in the league.
A word on our opponents: Off the back of a 13 game winning streak, I expected Guildford to come into this game with a bit more swagger in their step. Oddly the Flames looked really flat and just didn’t seem to be able to deal with the intensity of the Bison. In terms of talent the Flames are stacked with talent and you saw it in the goals they scored, especially Rempel’s goal which was just sublime but after Bronnimann’s goal went in, I wasn’t nervous about a comeback.
As mentioned, Lundin got man of the match despite not doing anything. Towe was their best player but Kvetan was his usual reliable self even if he did take a few silly penalties. Lee didn’t have his best night ever, 5 goals on 37 shots which is about 86% saves which isn’t good for a netminder of his quality but some of the goals he couldn’t do that much about. He’ll be annoyed at allowing the goals from Volrab and Bronnimann from but nobody’s perfect.
Lowlight of the night: Not many but at 5-2 up with 2 minutes to go, could we have not found a way to get Cameron Wynn a shift? Had it been closer then I wouldn’t have an issue but they could have given him 30 seconds.
Highlight of the night: The overall Bison performance, little else can be said either same again on Monday at Peterborough please boys.