Running with the Herd – Bison vs Slough Jets 20/2/13Posted: 21/02/2013
Basingstoke Bison 2-1 Slough Jets (Jets win 5-4 after penalty shots)
Davies (SJ) saved Lyle, Cesky (BB) saved Rockman
Pliskauskas (SJ) saved Lyle, Miller (BB) miss
Bakrlik (SJ) scores, Chambers (BB) saved Rockman
Time is an illusion: With the scoreboards broken at the Basingstoke Arena, the teams took to the ice with a literal speaking clock as Bavy was reduced to announcing the times for everything. Bison took the ice minus Matt Selby as well as the regular missing folks but a return to the lineup for Joe Greener. Slough entered the game with Slava Koulikov not icing.
Having been away and missed 2 weekends worth of games (see Banners On The Road for those), I was told that the Herd had been looking tired and flat and it showed off the faceoff as the Jets sprinted towards Lyle, forcing a save from the GB goalie.
The Bison had a couple of odd shots but the Jets looked the better side early on and made the advantage tell. A turnover at the Jets blueline saw Bakrlik advance up the ice. The Jets forward expertly held Sullivan at bay as the two on one developed before firing a spinning backhand pass to Matt Towalski who one timed the shot past Lyle.
The Jets tried to strike again as Pliskauskas broke in towards Lyle but his shot went wide. The puck went into the slot for Kieras who had snuck in but Lyle saved the former Bison man’s shot.
Nicky Watt tired to single handedly fire the up the Bison. He dangled through the Jets defence and fired goalwards but Rockman saved. Out of nowhere Watt and Pliskauskas were throwing gloved punches at each other and a scrum ensued but out of it Watt and Connolly skated towards centre ice, took off the helmets and threw the fists. Both players got shots in and the fight was a solid draw however Bison fans were left outraged as Kieras was not penalised for his actions so with Watt taking an extra penalty, Slough ended up with a powerplay.
Bison did get a powerplay chance shortly after. Adam Greener took umbrage with Greg Chambers and threw gloved punches at the Bison man behind the Jets net but the hosts couldn’t capitalise on the powerplay.
The first period wound down a bit after that, only a tripping call to Bakrlik adding to the gamesheet as the Bison went into the dressing room looking short on energy and ideas.
The Bison started the second stanza a lot brighter as Cesky went to the Jets net and forced a save from Rockman but nobody was about to gather the rebound. The Herd were coming more and more into the game forcing saves from Rockman but the Jets were having chances too as Dan Davies fired a pinpoint pass to Ciaran Long that forced a save from Lyle.
Then out of nowhere the tie was back on. Symonds fed Miller who charged to the net and after a scramble and some poking away the puck finally trickled off of Rockman and over the goal line.
The Bison had a bit of wind back in their sales and had a powerplay opportunity shortly afterwards. Owen and Miller both had great shooting opportunities but both were stopped by Rockman.
Bakrlik took back to back penalties firstly for high sticking Nicky Watt that did draw blood but the officials only administered 2 minutes and shortly after coming back out of the box for cross checking Owen but the Herd couldn’t capitalise but shortly after the second powerplay expired the damn broke. Watt sprinted over the blueline with Cesky charging up the centre channel. The Scottish forward fired the puck goalwards as Cesky fended off his man to tip the puck past Rockman. 4-4 on aggregate and it was anybody’s tie to win.
It nearly went wrong straight away as a dump in pass by the Jets took a wild bounce off of the boards with Lyle out of position but before a Slough player could jump on the loose puck, Zach Sullivan cleared the danger.
The second period ended and it was going to be a tense final period of action.
Michael Wales had taken a roughing penalty at the buzzer but the Bison gave up the advantage almost immediately as Cesky was bizarrely called for high sticks after 7 seconds of the period. Then Pliskauskas was called for high sticks 30 seconds later. Then Slough were called for too many imports then the penalty was cancelled and I wondered if I’d taken a knock to the head.
The play kept bouncing from end to end with chances for both sides. Bakrlik and Rand had a coming together behind the net which resulted in Bakrlik pushing Rand’s head to the ice but both ended up taking 2 minute penalties, Bakrlik for holding and Rand for hooking.
The Jets were still searching for a winner in the tie; a bad Bison change gave Davies a chance but Symonds cleared the danger. Pliskauskas turned on the afterburners and fired a huge shot that Lyle kicked away. Gomeniuk had a great shot through traffic at the blueline that Lyle saved. Towalksi got a step on the Bison defence and had a clear shot that drew a fantastic save up high from Lyle. The Bison were under pressure.
Bison did chances too and powerplays; the best coming when Nicky Watt charged the net and forced a save from Rockman but accidentally bowled the Jets netminder over in the process. The third period ended with the score tied on aggregate, we headed to overtime.
Overtime was like watching a really fast game of tennis as the game pinballed from one end to the other. Redmond had a great chance as he took the feed, stepped around the diving man and fired but Rockman stopped the shot. Dan Davies had a great chance that produced arguably the save of the night from Lyle. Overtime couldn’t separate the sides so penalties came and as you can see from above, the Bison couldn’t pull this one out.
An opportunity missed: The Bison will rightly be kicking themselves for letting this get away. There has been some justified complaints about some aspects of the officiating from last night but at the same time, if the Bison had played in the first period like they did in the final two periods it might not have gone to penalties.
I’ve said it a lot about teams that have visited Basingstoke this season; they huffed and they puffed but lacked the edge. The Bison fell foul of that last night. They just seemed to lack that real killer edge to put a Slough side that I maintain the Bison are better than overall, away.
Nicky Watt was a warrior last night; tried to spark the side going with the fight, charged the net, fired a great pass for Cesky’s goal, hobbled on one leg to keep the play going when he took a puck to the ankle. I’ve been critical of Watt at times in the past but that was a cracking game from him. Cesky might have got man of the match and he did have a good performance but Watt was my personal choice.
Lyle as well had a really good game making some quality saves and Alex Symonds I thought had a really good game. Both were very good on defence with Lyle looking solid and Symonds made some fantastic plays to snuff out some Jets attacks. The rest of the team tried, they really did give everything but some nights you win and some nights you don’t. That’s hockey folks.
A word on our opponents: Congratulations to Slough, I’ll say that off the bat. They played well, they played smart, their goalie kept them in it and they won the game in the clutch with a great penalty shot.
Dan Davies was a fair enough choice for man of the match. He played a real 60 minute game and covered every inch of the ice last night. I thought Pavel Gomeniuk looked very solid as well on the night. Also, and this is very good for Slough, Darius Pliskauskas looks to be regaining some of the magic of last season. I questioned where he was the last time the Bison played Slough here. He was there last night.
And then there’s Frantisek Bakrlik. Bakrlik is without a doubt one of the most talented players in the league. He showed it last night with a great pass for the Jets goal and a really clever penalty shot to win the game. However some of the actions last night, some of the dumb penalties he took and some of the niggles and shots he took at other players just leave me dumbfounded. For such a talented player to feel they need to play that way makes me genuinely sad. If he cut out the crap (and that’s the only word I can really use) he could be a genuine candidate for player of the year. Whether he should have been thrown out of the game last night or not, watching Frankie Bakrlik is one of the more frustrating things I’ve done this season.
Lowlight of the night: Losing, losing sucks.
Highlight of the night: They gave everything, we can’t ask much more. That includes the off ice officials for all hard work they did with a broken scoreboard.