Running with the Herd – Bison vs Manchester Phoenix 14/1/11

Basingstoke Bison 0-5 Manchester Phoenix

                                  Long x 2

                                  Neil

                                  Archer

                                  Duggan

 

 

It’s just one of those days: Whilst I’m not normally one for quoting lines from Limp Bizkit songs (and as it’s not 2002 any more, who is?) that’s pretty much all you can say about this game. Both teams came into it on the bit of a winning run, Bison with 5 games and Phoenix with 6 and after one period it was looking like it could go either way. Ciaran Long saw fit to curse the Bison with a short angle shot that found a way over the shoulder of Stephen Wall to make it 1-0 with a cracking shot that was likely more out of hope than intent but you don’t score on 100% shots you don’t take. Bison however had the better of the period and whilst the shot count of 15-5 might have been a tad generous but the second period was finely poised at 1-0 to the guests for a normal Bison/Phoenix end to end classic.

Then the second period started and it all melted away. The concept of tight defence that was evident in the Guildford and Bracknell wins went completely to pot as Slava Koulikov was given a year’s worth of space behind the net to pass to James Neil who wasn’t picked up and fired over Wall’s glove hand for 2-0. Then with the Phoenix on the powerplay the visitors worked the cycle very well, got James Archer into space who fired past Wall for 3-0. On the half hour mark Chong broke through the Manchester lines and was hooked but no call from Mr Thompson which perplexed many. Phoenix broke up the other end and with Mr Thompson’s arm in the air for Volrab hooking Archer, the Sheffield junior system product fed the puck to Duggan who poked it home. 30 minutes gone, 4-0 down and the Bison called a time in an attempt to regroup and stem the tide. A minute and a half later, Ciaran Long fired in his second goal of the night and the fans’ heads sank. The Bison suddenly woke up and spent the rest of the period throwing the kitchen sink at Fone’s goal to no effect. 5-0 after two periods and there’s little many of us could do but sigh.

The third was little more than a training session. The Bison huffed and puffed to little effect and Manchester took their foot off the gas, a blueline shot from Harabin ringing off the crossbar being their best effort. Fone faced shot after shot but Bison couldn’t take their chances.

Never get shut out at home” is one of those golden rules of hockey for me so to have and witness it happen left me unhappy but the scoreline wasn’t a case of the Bison getting run over. It was a case of the team not taking their chances in the offensive zone and Manchester taking theirs with clinical efficiency. It’s hockey, sometimes that happens.

 

Foundations of the wall: It’s easy to look at 5-0 scoreline if you weren’t there and think the goalie had a bad game. That wasn’t the case for Wall who sadly was the victim of team defence not giving him a hand. Wall will likely want the first goal back but the second period was an utter brain fart by the Bison that left the goalie out to dry. Wall made some decent stops but where Fone got some decent protection from his defence, Wall wasn’t as fortunate.

 

The same both ways: As there isn’t a great deal to discuss from the game with the last 20 minutes being a formality, I’m going to have a bit of a moan so I’d ask you to indulge me a bit.

Whilst I know I have as good a gripe at the officiating as the next man, I was left more frustrated than normal because of the inconsistencies of Mr Thompson’s interpretation of the rules last night. The officiating had zero, repeat ZERO impact on the outcome (bar possibly the scoring of the 3rd Phoenix goal but that’s by the by) but is it wrong to want penalties called the same for both teams? An example; In the first period, Manchester captain Luke Boothroyd was called for 2 hooking penalties, 1 of which was a bit suspect but I expected that to set the tone for how penalties would be called. At the end of the first period, Petran got, what looked to myself and many like an almighty hook and ended up falling over as a result. Nothing was called on the play. With the man’s stick around Petran’s waist if he goes to ground then it’s surely a hook by the Phoenix player or a dive by Petran.  That’s not to say the Phoenix didn’t get some calls go against them, the Petran example is the best one to hand from last night’s game.

I credit Mr Thompson for wanting to give a good, fast and open game of hockey. That’s commendable to the extreme and nobody wants to be sitting there for 3 hours where every 50/50 call is assessed as a penalty but when something is a penalty one minute and not the next, I can’t help but get a bit irked by it.

I’m not perfect, nor am I an expert in the exact letter of the law but I still feel it’s a legitimate gripe to have. There’s a lot of complaints from EPL fans that I’ve heard about consistency between officials but surely we’re allowed consistency in the one game.  Right, moan over.

 

A word on our opponents: Firstly with all due respect to Ciaran Long and his two goals, when your goalie gets a 30 shot + shutout in a 5-0 win he should be man of the match. No idea who chose it but I’ve never seen that many people looked so confused as to the man of the match decision and I have a big dislike for “ex-player appreciation night” when it comes to getting the beers. Fone was brilliant, there’s no other way to describe his performance. Bison had chance after chance which he turned away with ease, the frustrations of the home side only adding to his confidence. Whilst I don’t think Fone is the best keeper in the league, that was a big performance from the young man and I tip my hat to him for it.

Manchester were deadly in how they took their chances, there’s no other way to describe it really. All 5 goals scored by British players shows the strength of the Brit corps which helped as the imports were a little quiet, certainly Faith and Cingel didn’t have as much of impact as I thought they would on the tie. Spelda, despite the hashtag the Phoenix fans have given him, did little as well. I noticed Harabin when he took a stiff forearm and elbow from Nicky Chinn though.

All in all one streak had to end last night and it was Manchester’s that went on, fair play to them for it.

 

Lowlight of the night: Apart from losing 5-0 at home you mean? Reverting to dump and chase hockey in an attempt to get a goal. It’s not worked before and it didn’t work last night either.

 

Highlight of the night: I joked to friends that the highlight was that I got to go home after the game. The actual highlight was seeing Liam Chong get some top line minutes, his performances this season deserve that extra ice time.

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