Running with the Herd – Bison vs Bracknell Bees 15/9/12

Basingstoke Bison 4-1 Bracknell Bees

Chambers x 2              Lack

Rand

Symonds

 

Off and running: After months of waiting the 2012/13 season finally arrived and the EIHA finally saw fit to give us a home opener against a team based within a hundred miles of us. Thanks for that chaps.

The Bison seemed to be having trouble getting the powerplay going as they had chances early thanks to penalties on Matt Foord and Jan Bendik. Just over the 8 minute mark Scott Spearing went steaming into Andrew Melachrino and hit him high which earned him a 2+10 from the official Mr Szucs as well as an additional 10 minute misconduct for objecting a bit too vociferously. Again the Bison struggled to capitalise on the powerplay but they were having more of the going and the chances. Eventually the dam broke for the Bison. Miller took the feed from Reynolds and caught the Bees defence sneaking across. Miller fed the puck to Chambers who had a step on the defence and sniped the pick into the top corner stick side on Carl Ambler in the Bracknell net.

The Bees were having their chances and eventually put together a really good series of moves that led to their goal. After Alan Lack smoked Zach Sullivan in front of the Bees bench with a hit that had a hint of charging and boarding but looked amazing saw the Bees gain the puck and gain the zone. As the Bison fell foul Mr Szucs, the Bees were on the delayed penalty and pulled Ambler for the extra attacker. Shaun Thompson fed the puck back to the point and Marcel Petran’s trademark blueline drive was tipped in front by Lack who finished the move that he started. Lack pumped his fists in celebration of his first goal at EPL level and the Bees were back on level terms despite having had less of the play.

The Bison however quickly took the lead back with an almost carbon copy of their first goal, this time from the second line. Greener fed Sheppard who again caused the Bees blueliners to sneak across and allowed the Bison coach to slip the pass who Rand who picked the same corner that Chambers picked. The Bison’s lead was restored.

Lack provided further entertainment when he came together with Fojtik late in the period. As the two came together, nearly taking out Mr Szucs in the process, the smaller Lack went down under the hit. Fojtek picked up the smaller Lack who proceeded to throw out his elbow. Fojtik pushed Lack back to the ice and the official called…crosschecking. It was a moment of pure EPL comedy.

The Bees started the second period a lot brighter and immediately started trying to get the puck on net. Jan Bendik’s shot crashed off of Lyle’s crossbar and with Sheppard in the box for hooking the Bees kept firing the puck on net. Some very good work allowed the puck to get to the front of the net where Martin Masa got his stick on the puck to tip it but he couldn’t beat Lyle. The Bees inability to capitalise on their chances would haunt them moments later.

With Chambers calling the shots at the face off, Owen did his job in winning the draw back to Chambers. As Bees flocked towards him, Chambers put a pinpoint pass across the zone onto the stick of Alex Symonds. The former Cardiff man was unmarked in front of the hashmarks to Ambler’s left and the Bison defender fired a wrist shot into the top of the net to give the Bison a two goal advantage.

The second period continued to sway a little bit between the two sides and the Bees had another good chance when Smital found himself in a similar position to Chambers and Rand but his powerful wrist shot was swallowed up by Lyle. The Bison’s 3-1 lead lasted into the second break.

The third period started out with the Bison back on the attack as Rob Lamey was sitting in the box. The top line of Chambers, Owen and Miller got some really good puck movement but couldn’t find a way past Ambler on the man advantage.

The game was getting progressively more and more chippy as Bracknell tried to up the physicality to get back into the game. 10 minutes into the third with hits flying everywhere, there was a coming together in front of the Bees bench between Andrew Melachrino and Scott Spearing that led to all the players on the ice coming together in a bit of a pile. As the players were being pulled apart and led to the box, Melachrino made it very clear to Spearing that if he wanted to dance, then it was time to dance. Spearing, faced with a man a good few inches shorter than him seemed willing to oblige but the linesmen, as is their job when they’re leading players to the box didn’t let it happen. To be honest, yes there was part of me that wanted to see them go at it but the linesmen did the right thing. They were leading both men to the box, their job at that point is not to let them go.

As the game rolled on towards the final buzzer, the Bees were struggling to make much of a breakthrough with anything they tried and then just after the mess with Melachrino and Spearing the final nail was put in the coffin. As Bracknell were on the attack Marcel Petran was caught out at the blueline by Greg Chambers which led to the odd man rush. Chambers and Owen gained the zone but Chambers decided to take the shot himself and scored his second goal of the night with another wrist shot past Ambler.

The last ten minutes was the Bison holding the Bees at arms length as the clock ran down. There were words exchanged between Joe Greener and a few Bracknell players but the game finished without much incident.

 

Promising starts but things to work on: After a few teething problems against the Guildford, the Bison seem to have got their 5 on 5 game working a treat. All the lines were very good last night and there were never many moments of being drastically caught out at their own end. The scoring was shared across the team with 3 different goal scorers for the win and the Bees were kept to shots that Lyle could cover for the most part. The one shot on target that Lyle didn’t see was tipped past him but bar that and Bendik hitting the crossbar, the Bison defence managed to contain the Bees rather well. It was a good tune up for Sunday night’s game in Manchester against a team who will create more chances.

Greg Chambers was good value for man of the match. Aside from scoring 2 of the 4 goals and adding an assist his passing completion must have been close to 100% last night. We’re all aware of some of the criticisms of Chambers but he seemed to be on a mission to put those all to one side in one night. If he continues like this for the rest of the season, you won’t hear many complaints from anyone.

As the entire team was great last night (who knew Alex Symonds had such silky hands) it’s hard really to go into much detail exactly about where every player did well but a mention for Andrew Melachrino for just never stopping. He gets elbowed in the head by Spearing, gets up and keeps going.

Where the Bison do need to do some work is the powerplay. Whilst there’s obviously plans in place like using the second line up front with Fojtik and Chambers as the defencemen, neither of the powerplay units seemed to be able to generate much in the way of offence. It’ll come with time but it’s the only real area that seemed to let the Bison down last night.

 

A word on our opponents: As I write this, it’s mid-morning Sunday. I generally do this rather than when I get home to let my thoughts settle from the night before. It might have been a really fraught game and I want my thoughts to be coherent. Then I read the Bees website’s write up of the game (http://www.bracknell-bees.org/news-584-basingstoke-bison-4-1-bracknell-bees.html) and wondered if I’d banged my head.

That report makes the game seem a lot more even than it actually was. The Bison were never really forced out of second gear by the Bees. Credit where it’s due their goal was well worked and they did have their chances. They did have their periods of pressure and on occasions where they aren’t facing keepers the calibre of Stevie Lyle they might not have as much trouble beating the netminder.

However on the whole it was a pretty lack lustre performance from the Bees. Alan Lack was the obvious choice for man of the match as he along with Smital was the best player of the ice. He drew penalties, threw hits, kept going when he got checked into the stanchion near the end and started and scored their best play of the night. Jan Bendik also looked decent, like a true stay at home defenceman you didn’t really notice him. The one penalty he took he had to take as Corson-Heron was standing alone with the puck at the top of the crease.

In my season preview for the Bees I predicted it might be a bit of a long season for them. If last night is anything to go by, I may well be more right than I thought.

 

Lowlight of the night: Scott Spearing’s attempt to play the hardman. It’s just a bit silly.

 

Highlight of the night: Bison’s 3rd goal; well worked and brilliantly finished by Symonds.

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