Running with the Herd – Bison vs Peterborough Phantoms 26/1/13

Basingstoke Bison 5-1 Peterborough Phantoms

Owen x 3                    J. Ferrara

Cesky

Sheppard

 

Shock, awe then shutdown: The Bison headed into the game with only one change from recent games; Reynolds and Melachrino still on the injured list but Wightlink Raiders defenceman Ben Lock was added to the roster for the evening. Phantoms came in at full strength.

The Bison looked to shrug off the lethargy of recent first periods by rushing out of the gate looking for a goal and they created plenty of early chances. Rand, Greener and Sheppard nearly scored on the first shift of the game but were denied by the pad of King in the Phantoms net. Cameron Wynn had a chance that was gloved by King, Miller had a rebound chance that he couldn’t direct in while on the other side Jamie Line turned on the afterburners but had his shot easily saved by Lyle.

Sadly however the period deteriorated into a bit of an error-fest. The Phantoms however used the opportunities afforded to them by their hosts’ errors to claw themselves into the game more. Maris Ziedins had a golden chance when he broke away in on Lyle’s net. The Phantoms man made a move but Lyle was tracking all the way and in the end made a routine stop.

On the other end Bison coach Doug Sheppard tried to jump start a lacklustre period when he rushed to the net to attempt the wraparound but King was equal to the task. Greg Chambers was given some space by a good pass from Greg Owen. The shot was good and trickled through King but went across the crease and was cleared away.

The period gained a bit of life when Jaroslav Cesky and Will Weldon came together in front of the Phantoms net which caused a scuffle. Cesky, who was targeted a fair bit by Phantoms forwards, got frustrated and took a shot at Weldon but before much could happen the teams came together and nobody could really do anything. The official Mr Solovjovs game the two roughing penalties which were announced as two minutes but when it came to release them from the box he decided they were actually 2+2 penalties for roughing so they were promptly sent back into the box.

The period continued to limp along with the odd flash of quality; Owen forced a glove save from King after a lovely move to shrug off a defender but the first period came to an end with the score tied at 0-0 and the crowd looked like they were struggling to stay awake. It wouldn’t be an issue in the second.

It didn’t start well for Damien King. Joe Greener and Joe Rand manufactured a 2 on 1 chance but the final shot from Rand was saved by King. Unfortunately for the Phantoms goalie Rand ended up in too close to stop in time and just barrelled the netminder onto the floor. King stayed down for a moment but eventually got up and carried on.

The Phantoms tried to respond as Luke Ferrara and Ondrej Lauko rushed in 2 on 1 but Lyle kicked the save away.

The visitors were trying to create something and it ended up starting the downfall. A breakout pass over the blueline was intercepted by Chambers who sprung Owen past the Phantoms defence who were rushing forward. The Bison centreman walked in on King, deked and then put the puck up high over the sprawling netminder to finally break the deadlock.

As has become somewhat routine from the Bison, one goal sparked the Bison into life with a vengeance. The Greener, Rand, Sheppard line went back to work on the forecheck and on the cycle when they had the puck but it was the Bison top line that once again punished the visitors, building on the pressure created by the second line. Some crisp passing lead to a fantastic tic, tac, toe play as it went Chambers to Miller to Owen at the top of the crease who put the puck past King for his second.

It didn’t take long for the 3rd to come albeit in fortunate circumstances. The Phantoms were not giving up the ghost and were still trying to create chances. The puck was flicked out of the Bison zone towards the normally reliable Tom Norton. Unfortunately as he tried to play the puck, his stick shattered in his hands. Normally this isn’t a problem but sadly for the Phantoms Jaroslav Cesky was on hand to take the puck and race in on King. The Czech forward moved the puck to the backhand and shot through King’s five hole to make it 3-0 just 86 seconds after the second goal.

The Bison quickly found themselves on the powerplay as Norton ended up sitting for a slash on Rand. The first real chance however came to the Phantoms as Jeff Glowa ran in on Lyle but the Welshman made the initial save and Chambers cleared up the rebound.

The Bison powerplay continued however and before too long it was 4-0. A clearance attempt fell to Jaroslav Cesky who played a pinpoint pass across the seam to Sheppard at the top of King’s crease. The Bison player/coach took a moment in space before backhanding the puck past King as he struggled to get across in time.

The Phantoms were still coming and Lewis Hook had a good chance after some crisp passing but his shot didn’t trouble Lyle. The visitors were struggling to deal with the Bison’s increased intensity level and before too long a fifth goal came.

It was almost a carbon copy of the Bison’s second goal as some quality passing led again to Greg Owen being in space at the top of the crease to slot home his hattrick goal and end the contest in reality. The second period came to an end with the Bison having done what many fans and even detractors know they can do, put teams to the sword.

The third period saw the Bison look to shut the game down and the Phantoms look for a change of fortunes as Dan Lane replaced King between the pipes for the visitors.

Phantoms had an early powerplay chances but it was the Bison who had the first great chance as Carl Graham sat for tripping. Joe Greener and Nicky Watt but the final shot was dealt with by Lane. On the very next play the Phantoms set up the powerplay and worked the puck back to Norton but his drive from the blueline was seen through traffic by Lyle who gloved the puck out of the air.

The Phantoms were still pressing for a goal and Lauko had a gilt edged chance when he rung the puck off of the post to Lyle’s left but still no breakthrough for the Phantoms.

With about 10 minutes to go, movement on the Bison bench and the Bison fans finally got to see Connor Standing in action, replacing Lyle who was on for a shutout but with the game won, the Bison junior product made his home debut to the delight of the home crowd.

The first thing Standing had to do was watch as we had the first fight in Basingstoke for a while. Cesky, who had spent the game having lumps taken out of him by Greg Pick reacted when the Phantoms defenceman had yet another shot at him. Before he could do much about it, Nicky Watt stepped in and dropped the gloves with Pick. It was a back and forth tilt that ended in a solid draw.

The Phantoms found themselves on the powerplay shortly afterwards when Sheppard was called for holding the stick after being clattered into the boards by the Phantoms bench. The Bison players and fans were incredulous (and even I have to confess it seemed an odd call) but the Phantoms powerplay unit couldn’t find a way past Standing.

Shorty after the powerplay expired however the Phantoms finally broke their duck. James Ferrara burst over the blueline and ripped a massive shot past Standing that almost wasn’t given as it took a while for the goal judge to turn the light on but it was a shot that most goalies would have struggled with.

After that, bar a shot for Cam Wynn that he hooked wide, the period wound down with minimal incident. Carl Graham picked up a roughing penalty for giving Norton a facewash in a coming together between the two but otherwise it was very much job done for the Bison as results elsewhere went their way and sent them back to the top of the table.

 

Explosion of ability: After a first period that could have been used for a lullaby, the Bison returned to the things we know they’re capable of in the second period and blew the competition out of the water.

Greg Owen was always going to get man of the match for his hattrick performance and to be fair it was a towering performance. Fresh off being named to the GB side for the Olympic qualifiers in Latvia, Owen went out and dictated large swaths of the game with his skill. The entire top line of Owen, Greg Chambers and Joe Miller combined for 2 goals that were passing master classes and there was no way for the Phantoms to counter them.

Where the top line did it with skill, the second line of Rand, Greener and Sheppard did it with grit and determination. There were periods when their cycling of the puck on the forecheck was just great to watch.

The defence has been a subject of discussion for many in the last few weeks but they looked good last night. True they weren’t overly tested but a game like that will breed confidence and that’s a good thing. Ben Lock gave an admirable performance in the minimal time that he was given and (if as common sense would hopefully dictate that it’s been done) with dual registration he may well come in handy during the run in.

Whilst the first period didn’t cover anyone in glory the Bison can still turn it on when needs be. It might seem like nitpicking from me but I almost wanted to see the Bison put the Phantoms to the sword more than they did but we can’t really argue with a win that whilst doesn’t look overly dominating in the scoreline was a dominating win.

 

A word on our opponents: The Phantoms will be disappointed with last night. When you consider how they won in Manchester last weekend, the fact the performance offered last night was so flat will be an annoyance to the players, coaches and fans one assumes.

Tom Carlon was chosen as man of the match but to be honest there were no standout performances in the side. Damien King wasn’t offered much in the way of protection at times and ended up being pulled after two periods to save him from further shelling.

The first period was not a bad period of the Phantoms. The Bison were not playing that well and the Phantoms were one good chance away from leading. However in the second period when the Bison found their way through King, they capitulated and never had a way back into the tie.

That’s not to say there wasn’t effort there. The line of the Ferraras and Lauko certainly made an effort but when it came down to the crunch the Phantoms were average and average wasn’t good enough on the night to see them through the tie to get the points.

Of course tonight in Peterborough is a different kettle of fish. The Phantoms are very good on home ice and in front of their own fans it will be a very different story but there needs to be a response from Peterborough after last night because it wasn’t enough.

 

Lowlight of the night: The first period, just wasn’t that entertaining.

 

Highlight of the night: The second period, that was outstanding though special mention to Connor Standing getting his home début. Lyle could have stayed in, gotten a shutout and added to his stats but a great call from all concerned to give Standing the experience and time in net.

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