Running with the Herd – Bison vs Bracknell Bees 7/1/11Posted: 08/01/2012
Basingstoke Bison 7-4 Bracknell Bees
Tribe x 2 Galazzi
Moria x 2 Smital
Miller x 3 Masa
Silly season overcome: Whilst the game was not a classic for the ages, I think a neutral or a newcomer to the sport would have had fun with this game; 11 goals and a contest played with a bit of an edge like all good local derbies should.
Bison had the better of the first period with all three lines piling the pressure on Carl Ambler’s net and it was only a matter of time before the first goal came. Sam Oakford’s point shot was tipped in by Craig Tribe for his 2nd goal in a week. The pressure continued and the lead was doubled on the powerplay when a Marcel Petran point shot (because it’s a Bison powerplay and it works) was juggled by Ambler and Moria roofed the puck for his first of the game. More on who got assists for that goal further down. The Bees got their first really good chance on the powerplay and kept it simple, a great passing play was finished off by James Galazzi. Bison had the majority of the pressure but only a 1 goal advantage.
Then the 2nd period came and everything went utterly bloody mental. The first 10 minutes were decent end to end hockey and then everyone seemed to lose the plot. 3 goals in less than a minute and the game was totally turned on its head. After a good spell of Bees pressure Lukas Smital got the jump on the defence and fired high glove side on Wall, 2-2. The Bison responded in the best way possible as Kubenko got the puck from the faceoff, charged down the ice like a literal stampeding bison and centred the puck for Moria who tapped the puck home, 3-2 happiness restored. While Bison fans were still celebrating somewhat, the play was far too open and Martin Masa managed to power down the ice and beat Stephen Wall to his far post for what was a very pretty wrap around goal, 3-3 and nobody really know what the hell’s going on with either side.
The 4th Bison goal on the other hand had Bees players and fans spitting venom and me? I laughed because the Bison actually appeared to have got the bounce in their own building. Ambler came charging out past the hashmarks of his zone to play the puck. Ambler then realised “oh poop, I should get back in my net as it looks like that advancing Bison player might get this” and he backed into Chris Wiggins. Wiggins didn’t move and stood his ground against Ambler who was backing into him, the puck fell to Craig Tribe who fired into the open net. IIHF rule 522.3 which deals with charging and goalies out of their crease says “a goalkeeper is not “Fair Game” just because he is outside of the goal crease area. A penalty for a “Interference” or “Charging” shall be called in every case where an opposing player makes unnecessary contact with a goalkeeper.” I’m guessing the official felt it wasn’t unnecessary contact. Whoever wrote British Ice Hockey’s report (a Bees writer I’m guessing) didn’t agree and saw a mystery hold. Of the penalties that might possibly have been called, holding’s not there. The goal stood and Rob Lamey managed to talk himself into a 10 minute sit down.
The goal late in the 2nd period seemed to have knocked the wind out of the Bees somewhat and the Bison turned the screw. It became the Dan and Joe show as Miller scored off a Volrab pass on the powerplay then 2 minutes later exactly the same thing happened. Then as time wound down the Bison found themselves in powerplay trouble with 3 penalty calls in 40 seconds. Only 1 of them was a penalty for my money and one of them was utterly ridiculous but I don’t make the calls. Bees scored on the 5 on 3 powerplay with another well disciplined, textbook powerplay but Miller had the last word. With the Bees still on the powerplay and all the Bees rushing down the ice, Moria lobbed the puck over the neutral zone to allow Miller to dash in, deke Ambler out of his shorts and round off the hattrick. Job done, 2 points for the Herd.
Top line doing fine: One of the main problems for the Bees last night that allowed Bison to maintain sustained pressure was that they couldn’t deal with the Herd’s top line of Oli Bronnimann, Daniel Volrab and Joe Miller. Miller and Volrab were already clicking well but Bronnimann seems to have found his niche on this line and his play has improved as a result. The three of them in full flight are brilliant value to watch as the tape to tape passing sees them in the zone in a blink of an eye and before some teams realise it, the puck’s in the net. Miller is in fantastic form and the DanJoerous telepathic connection works very well but Bronnimann’s game always looks better when he’s allowed to use his pace and go to the net. Bronnimann doesn’t work as a crash and bang 3rd liner but now the lines have settled down, Bronnimann’s found 2 natural linemates in Joe and Dan. Defences beware.
Bring on the Wall!: As I missed Boxing Day, this was my first chance to watch Wall in Bison colours and despite letting in 4 goals I thought he looked very solid. The shots that made it past him were all decent plays, the two powerplays in particular were very well worked. The only goal he will want back is Masa’s wrap around goal where he just didn’t get across to his post in time. To be fair to Masa it was a lovely goal as he charged down ice, faked the shot, swept round the back of the net and poked the puck in. It was a beautiful goal but one no goalie likes giving up. He was solid and dependable, that’s what we needed.
A word on our opponents: Bracknell gave a decent accounting of themselves despite being down 4 players but on this night they were second best I feel. They have fantastic spirit and kept coming even when the Bison had pulled away. Andy Monroe was a good shout for man of the match and gave a decent account of himself. Smital and Masa had decent games as did James Galazzi and Rick Skene but they couldn’t sustain enough pressure and didn’t have the skill on the night to break down the Bison defence to really turn the game in their favour. Bees fans will likely feel hard done by with regards to the 4th Bison goal but possibly the first question to ask is why was Ambler that far out of his net? What also didn’t help was Lamey, captain, quality centre and one of their better players sitting down for 10 minutes because he ran his mouth. 4-3 down and one of the leaders talked himself into the box, not clever. That doesn’t take away from the fact the Bees did give play well, just not well enough on this night.
Lowlight of the night: Some of Mr Decaux’s penalty calling was outright weird. Some were spot on; his call on Miller for boarding in the first period was utterly spot on as was the slashing call on Smital but the elbowing call on Kurt Reynolds that started the 40 seconds of penalty madness for the Bison is the perfect example. Decaux, 10 feet away from the play called Reynolds for elbowing which is impressive as he pushed the man with his hands. Now I am no scientist but that thing with the five wiggly things is a hand, not an elbow. Also his calling of the goals and assists was outright silly. Somehow he managed to confused #32 Lukas Smital with #44 Scott Spearing, I think that says it all.
Highlight of the night: Dan Harris’ diving poke check on Martin Masa was winning until Joe Miller’s hattrick goal. That’s how you score a hattrick goal; break in alone, remove the keeper from his skates and shorts then bury it. Beautiful stuff!