Running with the Herd – Bison vs Bracknell Bees 24/11/12

Basingstoke Bison 5-2 Bracknell Bees

Chambers x 3              Masa

Cesky x 2                   Thompson


All alone atop the mountain: Bison headed into the game boosted by the presence of new signing of James Smith and Kris Melachrino on the bench for his first home appearance of the season but still missing Joe Miller and Joe Greener. Bees entered the game at full strength, starting Carl Ambler in goal over former Bison Tom Annetts.

Bison had an early chance to put their mark on the tie when Jan Bendik was given the gate for hooking only 55 seconds in to the game, giving the powerplay unit the chance to go to work. Bison sent out a 5 forward powerplay unit with Cesky and Chambers at the point. It was the later who got the Bison on the board as Sheppard fed the Bison’s top scorer the puck at the point and his wrist shot found its way through traffic into Ambler’s net to give the Bison the lead 99 seconds into the tie.

The Bees tried to get back into the tie and were given ample opportunity. The first big chance came when Symonds lost his edge at the Bees blue line allowing Smital and Spearing to race in on Lyle 2 on 1. Smital chose to pass to Spearing but his shot was stopped by Lyle. The second opportunity came when Mr Thompson called Graham for hooking and Symonds for cross checking in quick succession giving the Bees a lengthy 5 on 3 powerplay chance. The Bees got decent puck movement but never found a way through a hard working 3 man pk unit for the Bison.

Chances pinged backwards and forwards; Bison had a powerplay just after killing the 5 on 3 but didn’t make much of it. The Bees were sent back to the man advantage by Mr Thompson when he called Greg Owen for holding the stick but it was the Bison who were rewarded for their hard work.

Jaroslav Cesky forced the turnover at the blueline and sprinted towards Ambler in the Bees net. Galazzi’s attempt to slow him down didn’t hinder his advance as the Czech forward deked and fired home short handed to give the Bison the 2-0 lead.

The Bison held the Bees at bay for the rest of the period and were good value for their lead going into the first break.

The Bees started the second period with 58 seconds of powerplay time thanks to a boarding call on Joe Rand late in the first. The Bees tried to work the puck round to Petran but his shot was deflected away by Lyle in the Bison net.

The Bees had the better of the first half of the second frame. They had the better chances and got some very good movement on their second powerplay chance of the period but the final touch was lacking from the visitors. Eventually however they managed to get some reward for their efforts.

Foord fed Masa who did all the hard work himself. With men to fight off at the top of the crease the Bees’ import held Bison defenders at bay, held on to the puck and whilst falling to the floor flicked the puck past Lyle. It was a very pretty goal.

It was at this point the game started getting chippy as Scott Spearing decided it was time to put himself about. For some strange reason the main target of his actions was Doug Sheppard. Spearing was putting himself about trying to make hits, some of a questionable legality but eventually it led to a breaking down of things as the teams came together. Carl Graham went to get involved, Kris Melachrino attempted to leave the bench only to be held back by Mr Thompson. It resulted in Graham and Spearing taking matching 2 minute roughing and 2 minute slashing calls and Melachrino a ten minute misconduct without ever seeing the ice.

Bees were on the powerplay again shortly after after Redmond was called for tripping but again the Bees couldn’t find a way through. The best chance came when Petran was all alone in the slot but his massive shot found only Lyle’s chest.

Shortly after however it was the Bison who found the back of the net. With the puck in the corner a no look pass from what I thought was Joe Rand (but was credited as James Smith) sent a no look pass to Sheppard who put the puck onto the tape of Cesky’s stick at the back post who fired over a falling Ambler into the net for 3-1.

The Bees tried to keep the pressure on but saw all their better chances snuffed out by a clinical Bison defence led by Kurt Reynolds who was on fine form. The Bees however were certainly having their chances and pressing but as the second period wound down, they were stung if you pardon the pun.

With the Bees attacking Lyle’s goal, Zach Sullivan hacked the puck out of the zone. Lewis Turner stepped up to control the puck but fanned on it. Unfortunately for him the puck was picked up by Greg Chambers who proceeded to walk in on net and fire home for the Bison’s 4th goal. The second period ended with the Bison having a 3 goal cushion.

The third period saw the Bison attempt to contain the Bees. Bracknell were put on the powerplay after a somewhat unusual charging call against Sullivan. Petran managed to get a shot towards net and Lack got the deflection he desired but Lyle managed to make the save. Shortly thereafter, the Bison properly strangled the life from the tie.

James Smith sped towards the Bracknell net but was muscled behind the net by Petran. The young Scot kept a hold of the puck, spotted the onrushing Chambers and fed him a pin point pass for the Ontario native to notch his hat trick goal.

The Bees weren’t finished however and found themselves back on a 5 on 3 advantage after first Cesky was called for tripping then Owen was called for a high stick on Petran. The Bees first powerplay unit expertly stretched the Bison penalty killers and set it up for a simple tap in for Shaun Thompson with 6 minutes and change to play.

The game didn’t end totally quietly as Symonds and Lack nearly had a coming together that was broken up but as time wound down the Bison fans, buoyed by their team’s performance and the news that Swindon had beaten Manchester, were left feeling satisfied with Saturday’s proceedings.


Clinical performances win games: 5 goals from 2 players is the sort of offence that Coach Sheppard was seeking when he brought in Jaroslav Cesky and if Chambers hadn’t scored a hat trick he’d have been a good shout for man of the match but Chubbs was an obvious selection given his three goals and how he took them. The first goal was good to see as it was that well worked powerplay move that validates that 5 forward first PP unit that Sheppard has chosen to send out and it was a demon of a wrist shot that worked in. The second was a glaring error from Turner but the third was just a lovely move that was pretty much created by James Smith all on his own.

The new boy looks to still be settling into things but he put himself about well and came out of the game with 2 assists even if I am sure he wasn’t responsible for one of them. The important thing with Smith is he looks like once he fully beds in he could be yet another potent attacking threat. Then again 2 assists in your first game is a decent start.

Kurt Reynolds was a monster all of this game. I talk up Reynolds a lot but this was one of those games where you really saw just how important he is in the Bison gameplan as well as just how good he is. He threw big hits, he controlled the zone and just generally looked fantastic doing it.

The whole team put on a very good, controlled performance. When Bracknell gave the Bison chances they made them pay and limited Bracknell’s opportunities. Coach Sheppard won’t be happy they gave up two goals but he can be mostly happy with how the night went.


A word on our opponents: After the last game Bracknell played in Basingstoke, I joked that the writer of the Bees website’s match report had watched a different game to the rest of us. As there’s no report on the Bees website at the time of writing this, I suppose I’ll have to do it.

I tweeted last night that the Bees showed flashes of brilliance but only flashes and that’s a fair assessment I feel. There were small stretches where the Bees had the better of the action but they were, for the most part, outplayed for the majority of the game in the majority of its facets and lost as a result. It’s that simple to describe.

I’m not sure why Jan Bendik got man of the match for the Bees (supposedly he was the only Bees player with a positive +/- rating but I feel that was more through luck than judgement) when Masa was by far and away their best player including his goal which was worthy of most leagues in the world and was very well taken. Sadly for the Bees, none of the other imports made themselves notable. Petran mostly fired wide, Bendik did nothing and Smital had an off night which is never a good thing for the Bees.

Another one who had an off night was Carl Ambler who seemed to have real problems with the puck at times, including juggling dump ins from Jaro Cesky. He did make some decent stops but he didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence at times last night, especially giving up 2 goals on 7 shots in the second period. Ambler has good nights and bad nights, this was a bad night.

I’m not entirely sure how Scott Spearing got away with only 4 minutes of penalties for his little stretch during the second period. Some of the hits he was attempting to throw were just absurd and could have done serious injury. I get it, Spearing is a role player. He’s an agitator but there’s a price to agitating and that’s occasionally having to drop the mitts and doing something about it. Spearing didn’t do that, it appears Coach Cox sent him out just to try and land cheap hits and start a fight with Sheppard but not actually following through. This is nonsensical and didn’t work any way and I have to wonder how long the Bees will persist with this tactic that clearly does nothing for them.

All in all Bees fans may want to try and put a positive spin on the night and there were positives to take; they moved the puck well, especially on the powerplay and have a good deal of speed but they didn’t have the quality edge against the Bison nor did they have the killer edge to make the most of the chances given. They got some reward for their efforts but they didn’t deserve to win.


Lowlight of the night: Mentioned above with Spearing really, not entirely sure how Mr Thompson (who was ok) didn’t see fit to call the Bees #44 for more than 4 minutes for all of that.


Highlight of the night: Cesky’s shorthanded goal, that was pretty.


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