Running with the Herd – Bison vs Peterborough Phantoms 23/11/13

Basingstoke Bison 6-0 Peterborough Phantoms

Rand

Karpov x 2

Connolly (pp)

Wales (dpg)

Baird

Bison man of the match Dean Skinns makes a save at full stretch in the Bison's 6-0 win over Peterborough Phantoms (c) 5 Hole Photography

Bison man of the match Dean Skinns makes a save at full stretch in the Bison’s 6-0 win over Peterborough Phantoms
(c) 5 Hole Photography

By the spirits: The Bison headed into the game with their new look roster, Michael Wales replacing Tim Burrows in the line up. The Phantoms appeared to be at full strength.

The game started and the Bison were immediately on the powerplay as Nicky Watt was called for hooking at 8 seconds but the Phantoms had the better chance during the Bison powerplay; Jaroslav Cesky being set loose but he couldn’t find a way past Dean Skinns.

The first part of the opening frame was a tight affair with both teams having decent chances. The visitors had a powerplay when Carl Graham was called for holding but the Phantoms couldn’t capitalise, almost giving up a shorthanded goal to Aaron Connolly who had been sprung by Zach Sullivan. The teams bounced back and forth with opportunities before eventually the dam broke; Joe Miller made a crafty move and fired a shot at Tom Murdy in the Phantoms net but he couldn’t hold on to the puck and Joe Rand was on hand to bundle the puck over the line at 09:12 for give the hosts the lead.

More penalties came and the Bison were looking at a 5 on 3 powerplay after Greg Pick was called for illegal equipment after playing the puck after losing his helmet and Petran was called for hooking but Miller was called for interference and the fans were treated to 4 on 3 hockey.

The Phantoms were looking for a way back in but were being frustrated by Skinns in the Bison net and as the first period wore on, the Bison were getting more chances. Débutante Michael Wales was set up in the slot by Connolly but Murdy made a very good stop. He was less lucky a few minutes later. With the Bison pressing, Zach Sullivan was waiting at the blueline and drove a shot goalwards that was tipped past Murdy and in off the post by Tomas Karpov at 18:02. Whilst the period had been tight, the Bison were good value for their lead as the buzzer sounded to end the frame.

The two goal lead has been called the most dangerous in hockey and the Bison came out for the second period looking to not fall into the trap of previous games. They kept the pressure on the Phantoms, killing off Nicky Chinn’s boarding penalty from the end of the first period and set to work. The Bison however were getting caught out occasionally due to the team’s gameplan of playing so high but Skinns was standing tall, his best save coming from his stop of a spinning backhand shot from Marc Levers.

When Frantisek Zubek was called for high sticking, the Bison powerplay took to the ice but never really seemed to settle itself down. The first unit changed for the second unit and there was initially no joy until Aaron Connolly took matters into his own hands. Connolly took flight down the right side, gained the zone and fired a backhand shot that beat Murdy over his glove for the goal at 27:59 for 3-0.

The Phantoms were reeling a bit and the frustration was clear; Marcel Petran was called for tripping and was in a furious argument with Mr O’Halloran in the armbands. Another official might have called the former Bison man for a misconduct penalty but the referee appeared to shout Petran down and continued with the play.

Erik Piatek had a good chance for the visitors to get on the board, superbly taking a cross ice feed and advancing on Skinns but again, the Bison backstop remained unbeaten. Sadly for the visitors, they were punished for their lacklustre attack moments later. With an official’s arm in the air for a slashing penalty against Zubek, Andy Melachrino and Michael Wales were away 2 on 1 towards the Phantoms net. Melachrino, wearing a face cage after last week’s facial injury fed Wales who marked his return to Bison colours by one timing his shot past Murdy for the delayed penalty goal at 33:17.

The Bison had their tails up and pressed for a 5th and quickly got it. With the Herd camped in the Phantoms zone, the puck was cycled back to the point where Miroslav Vantroba fired a pinpoint slap pass through traffic to the back post and before Murdy could get across to his right to make the stop, Tomas Karpov had coasted in unabated to redirect the puck into the back of the net at 34:23 and the Phantoms were forced to take their timeout.

The timeout helped to a point; the Phantoms were also sent to the powerplay by a Joe Baird highsticking call but there was no end touch to put the guests on the scoreboard. Lewis Hook also forced a turnover in front of Skinns but again couldn’t find the net. The second stanza finished and the Bison fans were in confident mood.

The third period saw Damien King replace Murdy in the Phantoms net but it didn’t start well for him. Joe Rand passed to Joe Baird who went for a lazy dump in feed into the zone. Where the puck ended up was past King in the back of the net, Baird’s lazy looping wrister finding a way under King’s right arm and into the back of the net. If Baird’s claiming that was intentional then I’m not sure I’ll believe him but hey, they all count.

Tomas Karpov was checked awkwardly into the boards which saw Joe Greener and Will Weldon have a coming together that brought mutual roughing penalties. Karpov was alright after a once over on the Bison bench.

Dean Skinns had seen some testing shots but was called into action twice in a short space of time. James Ferrara and Jaroslav Cesky were set loose two on one but Cesky couldn’t find a way past Skinns. Then moments later Piatek and Cesky were in again but again the former Bison couldn’t find a way past the Herd’s backstop as a chant of “Deano” rang out around the arena.

The Bison again gave up penalties as time ticked on as Greener, Graham and Wynn all took seats in the box but the Phantoms never really looked to have that final touch needed to get the puck into the net. As the final buzzer sounded, the crowd rose to their feet in appreciation of a good Bison performance and Skinns’ heroics in the net as he extended his shutout streak to nearly 143 minutes.

Michael Wales takes the feed and fires past Tom Murdy for the Bison's 4th goal. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Michael Wales takes the feed and fires past Tom Murdy for the Bison’s 4th goal.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

Hit them for 6: We’ll start with Dean Skinns because it’s the obvious place to do so. After discussing last week whether it was time for the doubters about Skinns to finally be silenced, the Basingstoke born netminder appears to be in a rich vein of form at the moment. The defence around him knows how he works and does their jobs well and with minimal fuss which allows Skinns to concentrate on making the saves when they come his way. Skinns faced 29 shots for the shutout last night, many of them were not particularly testing but the two on one breaks that he stopped, mainly from Cesky, might have slipped past Skinns in his last stint here but at this point in time he’s arguably the most in form netminder in the league and coming off two shutouts in 6 days.

Michael Wales had a good début for the Herd and played…well, just like Michael Wales. Muzzy put himself about well, finished his hits and generally made a nuisance of himself. His goal was incredibly well taken off a great feed from Andy Melachrino though I did have a raise a wry smile as he somehow managed to score and still clatter into the goalie.

Tomas Karpov took both his goals well though he does owe a tip of the hat to Zach Sullivan and Miroslav Vantroba for the assists but that’s the mark of a good scorer at times, being in the right place at the right time. Karpov is very much the natural playmaker but he has that talent to get himself into the right positions when needed.

Joe Miller has obviously been a topic of discussion these past few days, rightly so and whilst he didn’t have the most productive night it wasn’t for want of trying. He was frequently trying to make plays but sometimes things just don’t go your way.

The “Youth Brigade” line got plenty of ice time, a side effect of the scoreline but they put themselves about well. The race between who scores first out of Mogg and Ingoldsby continues.

The Phantoms didn’t provide the sternest of tests but this was a game won by the Bison’s quality and good play more than lost by the Phantoms’ inability to score. After some recent wobbles, this is the sort of performance needed ahead of Sunday’s game against Manchester.

A word on our opponents: The Phantoms players probably owe Tom Murdy an apology. Murdy is a decent netminder at EPL level and the fact he let in 3 goals on 11 shots in the second period was more down to the fact he got no help on some occasions. The Phantoms were flat, at times lacklustre and the times when the desperation kicked in that they needed to score the majority didn’t have the required potency and the really good stuff was turned away by Dean Skinns.

Greg Pick was a decent choice for man of the match all in all. It might seem odd to chose a defenceman for man of the match when they hung their starting netminder out to dry but Pick, to his credit kept skating hard, kept finishing his hits and just kept going when it seemed many of his team mates had given up the ghost.

I was also impressed with Lewis Hook, another player that just never seemed to stop going every time he was on the ice. I was also impressed with just how fast he was, the lad really has great wheels.

I’m sorry Phantoms fans but there wasn’t many positives to take from that game for you; shutout on the road, one netminder given no help and then poor Damien King just got caught out by a fluke goal and even with 3 powerplays inside the last ten minutes they just never looked like scoring. After last night, it’s a real back to the drawing board moment for the Phantoms.

Lowlight of the night: Not really one take last night from the game last night so err…yeah I didn’t win shirt from the player’s back. Boo hiss

Highlight of the night: Bison’s 5th goal, fantastic pass from Vantroba

"Well...it works for Joe Rand so I'm going to do it too!"

“Well…it works for Joe Rand so I’m going to do it too!”

All photos courtesy and copyright of Grant King aka 5 Hole Photography. Visit the website, buy a print and remember that the best goals in hockey are just like the best hockey photography; always go 5 Hole.

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