Running with the Herd – Bison vs Bracknell Bees 18/2/12Posted: 19/02/2012
Basingstoke Bison 3-1 Bracknell Bees
Chinn sh Foord
Hard work and job done: A slightly more fleshed out Bison squad took to the ice this week. Liam Chong and Viktor Kubenko returned to the line up on Wednesday at the loss in Guildford and Cameron Wynn remained in the line up for the 3rd game in a row. With Harris, Oakford and Redmond still out, Nicky Chinn remained on the blue line where Chong joined to make a slightly more substantial defensive unit of 4. Wynn spent his time on the 3rd line with Craig Tribe and Jacob Heron. This round up will be a bit shorter mainly because it wasn’t the most incident filled game.
The Bison came out of the gate at speed and immediately put the pressure on the Bees but the Bees were quite happy to hit right back as Shaun Thompson and Viktor Kubenko had early chances. The Bison had the best of the pressure though and despite being on the penalty kill managed to take the lead. With Daniel Volrab in the box for slashing, Joe Miller and Steve Moria kept the puck in the Bees zone and Bracknell rushed back to retrieve the puck. Moria twisted and turned then saw Nicky Chinn sneaking into the slot in space. Moria’s pass found Chinn who one timed it past Annetts in the Bees goal for the lead. Chinn celebrated by doing a mini moonwalk in front of the Bison bench; Chinn, bless him, is definitely a better defenceman than a dancer. The Bison maintained the balance of play for the remainder of the first period and went into the first break with a deserved lead.
The second period brought out a needed reaction from the Bees who ended up outshooting the Bison across the second stanza. The Bison were on the back foot for a large chunk of the period but it was a scrappy affair where with a lot of sticks in the passing lanes and passes going awry. Bracknell’s best chance came when the Bison made a hash of a line change which saw Michael Bowman one on one with Wall. Wall made the initial save but as players streamed in, the scramble in front of goal saw players of both sides digging for the puck as the Bison’s netminder was flopping around desperately trying to make sure the puck didn’t cross the line. Eventually however the danger was cleared. Bison slowly came into the period as time wore on till eventually one mistake from the Bees cost them. With the puck knocked out of the zone Reynolds passed east to west to Petran who quickly passed to Kubenko. The Slovak Machine found himself all alone in space close to the Bison bench, walked over the blueline, wound up and fired goalwards beating Annetts through the five hole before the former Bison goalie could get his pads together. 2-0 less than 2 minutes to go in the period and the Bison were back in the driving seat.
The third period continued in the same scrappy style as the second and players from either side were engaging in a couple of bits of afters, Scott Spearing endearing himself to the Bison fans as ever with a few shots on Craig Tribe. Nicky Chinn landed a check on Mr Spearing that put pay to most of it. With time winding down the Bees looked like they’d shot themselves in the foot when Martin Masa was called for tripping. The Bison however got caught out. Chinn pinched in at the blueline which released Thompson and Foord. Petran tried his usual desperation dive to break up the pass but Thompson saucer passed it to Foord who one timed it past Wall to break the shutout at 57:19. The Bees were suddenly right back in the game and when Wiggins took a rather soft charging penalty 28 seconds later, Bracknell had a way back in. Bracknell used their timeout to formulate a plan and pulled Annetts for the 6 on 4 advantage. With 36 seconds to play Bison won a faceoff to Wall’s right, Petran got the puck behind the Bison net and fired it down the length of the ice into the empty net. Job done and even an assist for Wall on the empty net goal.
Ollie’s alive…or is he?: His name wasn’t mentioned in there but Ollie Bronnimann was an easy choice for man of the match despite not scoring. He made some fantastic plays where he deked and danced his way through the Bracknell defence on a couple of occasions as well as being really defensively responsible. Bronnimann’s reputation is that of offensively great but you don’t normally think of his defensive skills but this game he was backchecking like his life depended on it and looked dangerous throughout the night. The problem was (and this was pointed out to me after the fact) was that he left the ice and went straight to the dressing room around the time the Bees scored. Bison don’t need the injuries as it is but if Bronnimann’s going to play like that and then get injured, that’s just sucky.
Nearly a goose egg: It was a solid and assured performance in net from Stephen Wall. Wall had a bit of good fortune, particularly in the second period when the Bees were in the ascendency but looked cool, calm and confident throughout the 60 minutes. He likely deserved the shutout but was hung out to dry for a couple of seconds by the powerplay unit and it was gone. Wall has gotten better as his time in Basingstoke goes on which is really useful with the playoffs on the horizon. I’ve said before that he is a clutch goalie and as his form is on the upswing he’s getting hot for the team at the right time.
A word on our opponents: It’s the same as the last time Bracknell came to town; they played OK but not good enough on the day. The top line with Masa and Smital weren’t really firing on all cylinders to start with and were easily shut down by the makeshift Bison blueline corps. That top line is the majority of their offensive production so them being kept quiet meant that eliminated a large chunk of the Bison’s problems right there. However in the second period when the Bees were on top they should have scored two or three times but just couldn’t find a way past Wall.
The short handed goal was really well taken and showed why Thompson was really their man of the match. His work rate is always really good (last night was no exception) and it was a really tasty saucer pass to Foord for the goal. Very few other Bracknell players really stood out on the night bar one…Tom Annetts. Annetts took a lot of flack in Bison colours last season and I commented in his Goodnight and Good Luck piece that I hoped he found his step again in Bracknell which he seems to have done last night. He made a number of good saves from Bronnimann and Kubenko and looked like an EPL starting netminder again. Good for him says I.
The issue for the Bees was that their stars didn’t fire and they looked like the Bison do in some of our home losses; a lot of bluster but no end product. They never really looked like winning on the night and they didn’t. Not that I’ll argue with us beating Bracknell.
Lowlight of the night: Bronnimann going off early, we really don’t need another injury.
Highlight of the night: Aside from Chinny’s dancing “skills”, Kubenko’s goal was just a beauty. Even if Annetts’ pads had been shot, the force was so hard the puck might have just gone through them anyway. Long live The Machine.