Running with the Herd – Bison vs Telford Tigers 5/1/13

Basingstoke Bison 5-1 Telford Tigers

Owen x 2                    Bowley

Cesky

Sheppard

Chambers

 

Back in the saddle: Bison headed into the game minus the now injured Kurt Reynolds but Andy Melachrino returned to the line up after picking up an injury at the World Juniors with Great Britain. To accommodate for the lack of Reynolds, Joe Greener moved onto defence for the game. Tigers came into the contest lacking the injured import centre Patrick Greene and the impressive Declan Ryan who is suffering from the mumps but saw the return to Basingstoke of the recently retired Barry Hollyhead between the pipes who had strapped the pads back on to help the Tigers out.

The first 5 or so minutes were rather cagey as both sides looked to make breaks into their respective offensive zone. Bison ended up with the first real chance; Miller gained the zone and centred for Owen but his one time shot was kicked away by Hollyhead.

The chances started to come a bit more for both sides but it was the Bison who were having the better of them and eventually the damn broke. The Bison gained the zone and a beautifully weighted pass from Chambers split the Tigers D allowing Owen to walk in, hold onto the puck and walk it round Hollyhead into the net for 1-0.

Tigers did get a chance to get back into the game shortly after. An errant pass from Carl Graham led to a minor situation for the Bison in the corner behind Lyle’s net and the Bison defender was called for tripping which sent Telford to the powerplay. A shot from the point by Juraj Senko was tipped by Luke Brittle but he could only watch the puck sail wide of Lyle’s net.

It was the Bison however who would add to their lead; the Tigers defence gave up another 2 on 1 chance and the hosts took full advantage. Sheppard gained the zone, fired the puck across the crease to Cesky. The Czech forward almost made a hash of it, seemingly losing the puck in his skates but eventually managed to poke the puck over the line for 2-0 which is how the period ended. It was probably a fair reflection of the action of the period.

Right off the faceoff for the second period the Bison were looking for a 3rd goal. It almost came as the 1st shift was coming to an end and Miller and Chambers combined for some nifty passing but they couldn’t link up with Owen in the centre to make it count.

A few minutes later it definitely did count; Sheppard made the pass to Melachrino who failed to control the puck as he gained the zone. The young forward recovered, fired a pass from down low to Sheppard who poked the puck through a gap between Hollyhead’s pad, blocker and post to make it 3-0 to the Bison and the home fans relaxed a little.

The teams traded penalties as Carl Graham ended up sitting a 2+10 checking from behind penalty then a Tigers player hooked Melachrino and ended up sitting but neither side could take advantage, Cesky missing the best chance when his one time chance flew over the bar.

Tigers eventually broke their duck with a mildly controversial goal. After the puck appeared to have come out of the zone, a shot from Scott McKenzie was tipped past Lyle by Callum Bowley. Bar it crossing the line, the goal was really well worked so kudos for that. That was the last action of the 2nd period.

The third period started pretty evenly but the Bison started wrestling control of the period early on, punctuated by a crushing hit on Tim Burrows by Carl Graham that left the Tigers man skating off holding his ribs.

After a game where he had been buzzing around like a gnat on speed, Cameron Wynn came agonisingly close to his 1st senior goal. Coach Sheppard sprung the defence and Wynn joined him on the rush. Sheppard passed but rather than one time the shot, Wynn took a crucial touch that gave Hollyhead time to right himself and make the save. The Tigers kept having chances but another 2 on 1 killed off the tie.

Redmond fired a pass to Greg Owen that caused the odd man rush, Owen found Greg Chambers who had enough time to almost have a nap and wake up whilst firing his trademark wrist shot past Hollyhead to make it 4-1. Tigers called their timeout but ultimately the next action of the game meant the team talk didn’t have the desired effect. Then again there was little they could do about it.

Redmond started the move again as he passed to Sheppard. The coach found Owen who made a little move and then fired a sublime wrist shot short side over Hollyhead’s glove into the top of the net. Lax defending gave Owen the space to score but there was nothing any keeper could have done with Owen’s shot. It was very, very pretty.

The game was effectively over at that point with 7 minutes to play but the Tigers kept coming. An innocuous interference penalty on James Smith gave Telford a powerplay but they couldn’t take advantage. Time ran out and the Bison took home their first win of 2013.

 

A self righting ship: After a couple of bad results over the festive period, I criticised those Bison fans who appeared to be hitting the panic button after a couple of bad results. I stand by that because to go into full blown sound the alarm mode. People who simply criticised the play over the festive period I had more sympathy for and on last night’s showing this was a team didn’t play like superstars but then again they didn’t really have to. On the other hand this was a team that had taken a knock to their confidence and this was game 1 in getting back to normal.

Joe Greener guesting on defence played well despite obviously still be adjusting to the change. How well he does against a higher quality opponent in Slough next week remains to be seen but the signs are positive.

Cameron Wynn also had a very good game. The illusive first goal still hasn’t arrived but he covered every inch of the ice, was positionally sound and was rewarded with penalty kill time in the 3rd period for his performance. Those criticising him for his failure to score last night need to, quite frankly, keep quiet. He’ll be disappointed that he didn’t score either, there’s a bigger picture at hand here folks.

Not sure why Joe Miller didn’t play in the 3rd period, it appeared to be a skate issue and he certainly didn’t look injured but we await word.

Overall not a classic performance for the ages but the win is always more important than the performance and that was especially so last night.

 

A word on our opponents: Missing players, a goalie in net pulled out of retirement, it never boded well on paper for Telford coming to a team in the title hunt. I did see some Tigers fans saying that they thought they were in the game more than I gave them credit for because if I am honest, I think the Bison held Tigers at bay and didn’t really have to get out of first gear.

It was the archetypical performance from Telford in the sense that they skated hard and gave their all for 60 minutes but didn’t have the skill to beat the Bison. Lacking some key players as well wasn’t going to help their cause but it wasn’t a performance to remember for Telford though there were some bright spots.

James Preece was a good shout for man of the match though the performance of Tim Burrows and Juraj Senko are also worth mentioning. They covered the ice, caused a few problems for the Bison defence and generally looked the best 3 players for the Tigers.

Barry Hollyhead also deserves a mention; let it be known that I’m a Barry Hollyhead fan. Mad goalies are always good fun but for a guy who only came out of retirement a few weeks ago he looks his usual self. He might want a couple of the goals back but otherwise he looked useful and Tigers fans need not worry about their stability in net with Hollyhead there.

I can’t offer much more than that, the game wasn’t that exciting and wasn’t action packed but sadly on that showing the Tigers might be out of the playoff spots again.

 

Lowlight of the night: The lack of atmosphere was a bit disappointing, I understand why the joint wasn’t rocking but at the end of a 5-1 win most people seemed to just be happy to go home. That’s a shame.

 

Highlight of the night: Owen’s second goal. Just a beauty of a shot.

 

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