Running with the Herd – Bison vs Milton Keynes Lightning 22/1/12Posted: 23/01/2012
Basingstoke Bison 0-2 Milton Keynes Lightning
121:52 and counting: That magic number at the start of the line is the running total since the Basingstoke Bison last scored a goal at the Basingstoke Arena. Coming off the back of another good away win, this time in Swindon where the team came from 3-1 down to win 5-3, confidence amongst the crowd and hopefully the players was high after last week’s 5-0 defeat to Manchester.
The first period was actually a really solid period of hockey from both sides with chances aplenty at either end but impressive saves from Colclough and Hollyhead kept the scoreline even. For the second week in succession we were “treated” to Mr Thompson’s unique interpretation of the rules where we got spates of penalties followed by minutes of nothing in spite of there being many obvious calls in either direction. The first period saw a particularly bad one as Petran sprinted onto the ice from a line change and made a fantastic diving poke check to take the puck away from the advancing MK forward. The MK player went down for whatever reason and Thompson called tripping which raised the ire of nearly everyone in the rink. I’d like to hope even some of the MK fans might have realised they got away with one there.
The second period started much like the first but in the blink of an eye MK had taken the lead. The Bison defence gave Leigh Jamieson too much space and he one timed a pass from Nick Poole at such a speed past Matt Colclough I doubt many keepers would have stopped it. Be it a goal for us or against us, that was a sweet shot. The second period was a lot like the first in many respects; good end to end stuff from both sides but utterly perplexing officiating from Mr Thompson. Petran ended up talking his way into a misconduct penalty after being horrendously hooked from behind which saw him go down in stages like a falling Transformer only for no call to be made as Nicky Chinn was then whistled for half the infraction at the other end. Luckily for Thompson none of his calls ended up affecting the result. The Bison only had themselves to blame for that.
Where the first two periods the Bison looked unlucky, they looked short of ideas in the third. The pressure mounted on Barry Hollyhead but he was never really troubled with anything that he couldn’t or shouldn’t stop. The lines were shuffled but the game plan remained the same with the puck going deep and trying to win it and set up the cycle but time after time it didn’t work. The empty net goal came and to be honest, my head just sank. Bison won a faceoff in the MK zone with under 30 seconds to go then called the timeout. As someone near me quipped, “about 3 minutes too late”. Shut out again at home and I end up heading back to Southampton wondering if I need to find a way to go to more away games.
Head and shoulders above the rest: Joe Miller was an easy shout for man of the match last night. Despite not scoring, the sheer effort from the man at both ends of the ice and his added physical edge meant he was our best player and our best hope of scoring. Whilst some fans of other teams disagree that Miller is a top line forward, he has proven with the Bison that he is capable of top line minutes and be it as a first or second line player re-signing Miller has to be one of the highest priorities for whoever leads the Bison into 2012/13 be it Moria or someone else.
A minor grumble: The Cat’s Whiskers head honcho Jon Bullard recently called out his fellow Nottingham Panthers fans for their unrealistic expectations and demands following a recent loss when differing sections of fans suggested sacking the coach, the imports, the Brits and pretty much everything else. (As an aside, do read TCW as it’s a cracking read even if it is about Nottingham) My grumble is with certain sections of the crowd who yell for a penalty every time a Bison player is on the end of a big hit.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a fair few hits in every game that are borderline or over the mark. Some get called, some don’t, such is the way of things. However a lot of hits are perfectly legal and yet people end up screaming for a penalty. Why? If one of our players did it, we’d be fine with it.
Lukas Zatopek last night landed two hits; one to Jacob Heron which somehow resulted in a hand pass being called and the other to Viktor Kubenko. Heron got caught with his head down and got waffled as a result. Kubenko was dashing over the blue line and Zatopek hipchecked Kubenko. Zatopek was committed to the hit before the puck was poked past him and the puck wasn’t far enough away to be interference.
I’m fine with cheering and shouting for penalties, Lord knows I do it enough but just because one of our guys gets smoked doesn’t instantly mean penalty. It happens sometimes, our players are going to get hit. It’s not the end of the world.
A word on our opponents: An odd game from the Lightning last night. I didn’t think they particularly outplayed the Bison though their third period performance probably justified their winning the contest. It was a solid 60 minutes of hockey from them. They were also surprisingly clean about it as well. I normally find myself bemoaning Grant McPhearson or Michael Wales’ antics. I probably will in the future but they behaved last night so credit to them. I thought Juraj Gracik looked a bit flat but seeing as how he was released today (I’m writing this on the Monday) perhaps that was why. Hollyhead was a fair enough decision for man of the match for the shutout with such a high shot count though many of them weren’t exactly high quality shots. Leigh Jamieson’s goal was a peach of a shot, one of the players I would sign for the Bison in a heartbeat though the chances of him ever leaving the Lightning are slim to none.
Lowlight of the night: Do I really have to tell you?
Highlight of the night: It wasn’t a night of many highlights but I’ll say one of Mr Thompson’s blown penalty calls where Kurt Reynolds was practically climbing his man like they were the Matterhorn. Obvious holding call, wasn’t called and I just found myself laughing at the whole thing. Good on Reynolds though, he’s been great to watch this season.