Running with the Herd – Bison vs Milton Keynes Lightning 29/9/13Posted: 30/09/2013
Basingstoke Bison 3-2 Milton Keynes Lightning
Miller Lascek x 2
Working hard for the money: After Saturday night’s convincing win at the Skydome, the Bison headed into the game minus Carl Graham and Andy Melachrino but Nicky Chinn did ice after taking a puck to the face on Saturday and the captain was looking the image of the grizzled veteran with his stitches. After conceding 1 goal in relief the previous night, the Lightning started the up and coming Jordan Hedley in nets.
The opening exchanges were not overly exciting. Despite having played each other the night before the two teams seemed to spend the first few minutes feeling each other out and it meant there were few clear cut chances in front of the reduced Sunday night crowd.
The shots on goal started coming eventually; Skinns was tested when Blaz Emersic fired across goal but the Bison netminder stopped Leigh Jamieson’s redirect. Jordan Hedley was forced into action when Nicky Chinn fired a slapshot in space but the Lightning backstop trapped the puck under his left pad.
Messers Thompson and Szucs weren’t being shy about calling penalties either and it was the Lightning’s second penalty of the first period that would cost them. Leigh Jamieson and Miroslav Vantroba got tangled up at a faceoff in the Bison zone and for some unexplained reason rather than letting go, Jamieson put his glove into Vantroba’s face and shoved him away which earned him a roughing call. The Bison powerplay set to work and took 20 seconds to find the back of the net. Tomas Karpov fed Joe Miller whose shot sneaked through Hedley at 12:31 to give the Welshman his 4th goal of the weekend.
More penalties followed as first Sullivan for hooking then Greener was called for slashing giving the visitors ample chance to draw level but Skinns stood firm, the best chance coming for the Lightning coming from a canon of a shot from Jamieson which could only find Skinns’ midsection.
The period wound down with the Bison on the powerplay, Lascek having tried Jamieson’s trick and cross checking Reynolds to get away from his man but the period ended with the hosts still one goal to the good.
The second period started with a higher tempo than the first and the teams got stuck into the middle frame. The Bison took the ascendency and forced Hedley into a string of saves as Vantroba and Karpov had quality chances that the Lightning goalie managed to stop. The Lightning were remaining patient and weren’t allowing the Bison’s lion share of the possession distract them from their game plan.
The momentum shifted back to the Lightning as they then forced Skinns into saves and got themselves a powerplay when Danny Ingoldsby was adjudged to have impeded his opponent’s progress but there was still no way past Dean Skinns.
The penalties kept coming as Janne Jokila first crosschecked Vantroba then took a seat in the box with Joe Baird as both were called for matching minors but the game’s scoreline was still unchanged.
Tomas Karpov would draw a penalty out of Michael Farn, the Lightning defender unable to keep up with the Czech’s quick turns which resulted in him hooking the Bison man back. The Bison responded with a poor powerplay that the Lightning penalty kill kept breaking up with ease. However the Bison got a bounce and were released on a 3 on 2 rush. Chinn gained the zone and passed it to Joe Rand. The Canadian took a couple of steps and spotting the gap, shot high short side and found the gap over Hedley’s shoulder to double the Bison’s lead with 46 seconds left of the period. The Bison went into the second break with a two goal advantage and the fans were breathing a little easier.
The optimism turned to nerves again in the third period as 5 minutes in, MK finally broke through. The Lightning’s slick play saw them get the puck to the net and before the net could come off its moorings, Stanislav Lascek was adjudged to have put the puck over the line at 44:55. The Bison fans nor players were overly happy with it but considering what was to come, they might let this one go.
First as the Herd were on the powerplay thanks to Lukas Zatopek’s trip of Tomas Karpov, the Lightning manufactured a shorthanded chance that this time crossed the line after the net had left its moorings. Then the real controversy reigned.
Zatopek gained the zone and fired a cracking shot up high. There was an audible ping as the puck made contact with something metal. No goal light came on and neither official pointed for a goal. Credit should to Mr Szucs who stopped play and consulted with the goal judge before calling for the faceoff. The Lightning fans and players thought it was in but the officials held firm, no goal. From my perspective it appeared to go right into the corner of post and crossbar at such a speed that I can’t clearly say yes or no either way but we await Bison TV with baited breath.
More penalties came and went before Kurt Reynolds turned on the style. The Bison defenceman dangled his way round the entire team before firing a shot at Hedley. The shot was saved and MK broke up the ice but Reynolds went end to end to simply snuff the play out. Any problems he was having with his ankle are either gone or hidden very well.
Grant McPherson was called for holding the stick and the Bison powerplay set to work. Nicky Chinn found Tomas Karpov and the Czech’s shot squeezed through a gap in Hedley and over the line before the net was off its moorings. Where Mr Szucs was unsure about the Zatopek goal, he was certain here making it 3-1 Bison at 55:41 and a frustrated Michael Farn did a 2 footed stomp on the floor.
The Bison looked like they would hold on but put themselves in the mire a bit. Greener was called for an innocuous hook on Jamieson that sent MK to the powerplay. MK took their timeout shortly afterwards and kept Hedley on the bench. When play restarted, the Lightning took the zone and Joe Rand slashed the stick of his man causing an official’s arm to rise. On the delayed penalty Lascek notched his second of the night with a lovely snipe that beat Skinns at 59:25. The Lightning tried to find a way through in the last 35 seconds but it wasn’t to be as the Bison held on for their second win over the Lightning of the weekend.
Rostock approved victory: Last night was a special game for me as it was the first time any of my friends from Rostock had made it to a Bison game. Both Mirko and Sandra were impressed with the quality of EPL hockey equating it to the level of what they see in Rostock with die Piranhas. The one thing that struck Mirko particularly was the sheer number of shots the Bison had and was surprised we didn’t score more goals. Insert your own jokes here. Special thanks to Bavy as well for giving my friends a shoutout over the PA system, it made them smile. Back to the game;
Kurt Reynolds was outstanding last night and a worthy winner of man of the match. Beast Mode was in full effect and the former EIHL all star was the best player on the ice, the 30 second spell where he want end to end, shot and then made it back to cover the MK break was just further evidence of the talent he has.
Tomas Karpov’s also had a really good game, his high work rate being rewarded with the goal his performance deserved. In his welcome piece Tim Burrows talked about how Bison fans would be pleased with his work rate and I really was last night. Nicky Chinn also deserves praise for his workman like performance, the captain having been stitched up yesterday. What Chinn did really well was actually play to his strengths. He used his stick handling ability to create chances and didn’t try to get into too many foot races with guys. It was one of his better performances in a Bison jersey.
Dean Skinns as well looked comfortable in the net and initial fears about his return are seemingly being quietly dispelled. It’s early of course and those who like a moan will moan but Skinns appears to have hit his stride early and this bodes well.
The whole team looked good last night and whilst they made it nervier than it possibly needed to be it was still a solid team performance for the win. Whilst I don’t begrudge the fact that MK fans will feel they deserved something from the game (they probably did), the better team over the 60 minutes won it.
A word on our opponents: The first word about Milton Keynes’ performance needs to go to Jordan Hedley; take a bow, son. Hedley was a no brainer for man of the match for MK as his confident and assured performance made him look well beyond his years. They weren’t all routine stops that he had to make either, there were some top drawer saves in there. He will likely want the second goal back, being beaten over your shoulder short side isn’t a good one but any fears MK fans might have had about him as Wall’s back up can be swiftly confined to the bin.
On the whole MK looked decent, not amazing but decent. They played their systems well, moved the puck well and generally played better than they reportedly did on Saturday. I think the issue was there wasn’t anyone for MK who really took the game by the scruff of the neck. Lascek looked decent and took his goals well (the second in particular was a lovely shot) but sometimes you need someone to step up and I’m not sure anyone really did that for MK. By contrast last week, even though the team played really, really poorly, Lukas Smital tried to make things happen and I just didn’t feel that from the Lightning.
People will complain about the “goals” not given but that happens occasionally. Bounces don’t go your way and where they didn’t come last night I am sure they will be repaid to the Lightning over the course of the season.
As ever, full credit to the Barmy Army. 54 away games is nobody’s idea of fun.
Lowlight of the night: I don’t mind teams chatting to the ref when there’s a need but one thing that really irks the fan in me (as opposed to me with my “analyst” hat on) is teams that bleat on at the ref which MK just did with a little too much frequency last night. Holding up face offs, holding up the end of the period, it just grated on me. I don’t deny they had the occasional legitimate gripe but there’s a line.
Highlight of the night: The full blown return of Beast Mode and Joe Rand’s goal, which was a lovely snipe.
All photos courtesy and copywrite of Grant King and 5 Hole Photography. Visit the website and get your official Bison match night prints.