Running with the Herd – Bison vs Invicta Dynamos 7/12/14

EIHA Challenge Cup

Basingstoke Bison 10-1 Invicta Dynamos

Rounding x2 (1pp)         McNicoll

Karpov x3

Wales x3

Long

Connolly

Kapow: The Bison headed into the game missing their GB under 20 trio of Selby, Balmer and Wynn from the night before, Miroslav Vantroba’s match penalty meant the Bison were reduced to the one import so Tomas Karpov iced as Joe Rand was rested. Doug Sheppard had to sit out due to the rules, Joe Greener was still suspended and Nicky Chinn was scratched with Michael Wales the captain for the evening. The Bison added Ryan Sutton, Alex Sampford and Hallam Wilson. Following the sudden departure of Chris Douglas and the unavailability of Mark Lee, the Dynamos started Steve Nightingale fresh of the back of his first full game the night before where the Kent side won 11-2 over Cardiff.

The Bison had a couple of early chances, the best falling to Michael Wales before a slashing call on Billy Phillips sent the Bison to the powerplay. The Bison almost got stung when Juraj Huska broke out shorthanded by Dean Skinns made the necessary save. The Bison however couldn’t find a way past Nightingale in the Invicta net on the man advantage, Alex Samford getting an opportunity as the powerplay came to a close.

Billy Phillips again found his way to the box when he was called for roughing but again the Herd powerplay was frustrated by Nightingale and the Dynamos defence as they couldn’t find a way through. Stuart Mogg had the best chance, his shot was saved and sat agonisingly in front of the netminder before being cleared away.

The Bison kept the pressure on and eventually you had to think that the score, especially given it was the Teddy Bear Toss night in aid of the Naomi’s House. Andy Melachrino took the puck in stride and fired a shot goalwards that was caught by Nightingale but he had no chance with the next one; Joe Baird’s low shot was tipped over the Invicta man’s shoulder by Grant Rounding at 11:43 and the bears did come a’flyin.

The Bison kept pressing, Kurt Reynolds and Tomas Karpov both went close before Elliott Dewey was forced into clearing the puck over the glass for a delay of the game penalty. There was no way past Nightingale on that powerplay though Ciaran Long came close, a good effort to keep the puck in the zone allowed the Bison’s makeshift defenceman walk into space and fire but he was denied.

The Dynamos weren’t offering much in the way of offence, seemingly sitting back trying to offer Nightingale as much protection as they could when they were gifted a lifeline; Brendan Baird put the puck onto the stick of Nicky Lewis who fed Adam McNicoll who used the defenceman screening Skinns to his advantage and firing in off the post at 19:18. Baird the younger responded by skating to the bench and snapping his stick over the corner of it. The first ended with the scores tied at 1-1.

The second started with the Bison nearly repeating their first goal; a Rick Skene shot was tipped by Grant Rounding but Nightingale made the save. Tomas Karpov then fed Ciaran Long pinching in but the one time shot was wide.

The Herd kept pressuring and were rewarded for their efforts when they drew a hooking penalty out of Steve Osman. The powerplay went to work and after a couple of near misses, found its mark. Reynolds fed Connolly who shot goalwards, Nightingale made the save but the rebound sat kindly for Rounding at the side of the net for the tap in at 23:05.

The hosts had wrestled control of the game back; Michael Wales forced a juggle of the puck from Nightingale, Tomas Karpov fed Aaron Connelly for a shot that rang off the iron.

Billy Phillips waffled Andy Melachrino with a massive hit and it got better for the Dynamos when an interference call on Joe Baird gave them the man advantage. The visitors managed to get some slick passing together as the Bison’s PK sat back. The plan seemed to be to set the man up pinching in at the back door, they certainly kept trying it but nobody seemed to be able to connect on the seem pass.

The Dynamos were not sitting back and were starting to cause the Bison problems and after Tomas Karpov’s run and shot didn’t work, he hauled down Charlie Phillips and sent the Kent side back to the powerplay. Sadly it was stopped shortly afterwards when Billy Phillips slashed Grant Rounding.

The crowd had their hearts in their mouths moments later; a loose puck set up the footrace between Anthony Leone and Dean Skinns. Skinns dived at the puck for the pokecheck and missed but Leone just couldn’t put the puck in the net and missed the gaping cage.

Adam McNicoll mistimed a hit and went through the numbers of Tomas Karpov earning him a 2+10 checking from behind call but Andy Melachrino was called for delay of game shortly afterwards making the game 4on4.

It did look like the next goal wouldn’t come but come it did. Nightingale made a good save off of some slick passing that saw the play go from Long to Connolly to Karpov but moments later with a scramble in front of the net, Karpov saw the puck when nobody else did and roofed it over the goalie’s shoulder at 37:04 for 3-1.

The Dynamos had a brief 5on3 when Michael Wales took a run at Charlie Phillips and was called for charging but Dean Skinns made two very good saves in tight in front of the net.

It was a missed chance that Invicta would rue when an accidental highstick from their only import Juraj Huska caught Grant Rounding in the nose and drew blood which meant Huska’s night was done. His match penalty was downgraded when Rounding returned to the ice but the buzzer sounded and Invicta were still in with a chance at 3-1.

Sadly it wasn’t to be as the Bison went into the third and just blew their NIHL opponents away. Two goals in just over a minute helped the cause as first Tomas Karpov tipped home a Ciaran Long blast at 43:30 then Ryan Sutton laid the puck off for Wales who drove the net, collected the rebound off of his own shot and put it past Nightingale at 44:39 for 5-1.

Elliott Dewey tripped Alex Sampford who flew into the end boards sending the door flying open. The hit was called as tripping but the Bison couldn’t capitalise on the powerplay as Connolly hit the post for the second time in the match. The pressure remained and all of Ciaran Long’s distance blasts were finally rewarded when he walked into space, put his head down and drove the puck through Nightingale’s 5 hole at 48:57 for 6-1.

Any resistance of the visitors was just nowhere to be found as they left their netminder exposed. Tomas Karpov was the first to complete his hattrick when some neat passing found Tomas Karpov whose wrist shot left the netminder wondering what day it was at 50:43 for 7-1. 8-1 came less than 2 minutes later when Wales was fed by Rick Skene for a tap in at the back post.

The Dynamos were looking down and out when suddenly Frankie Harvey’s pass split the Bison defence and Charlie Phillips was in alone on Dean Skinns. Nobody was going to catch him in time. Phillips steadied himself for the blast…and whiffed on the puck. It sort of summed up the night.

After hitting the post twice, Aaron Connolly finally managed to find the twine when he took the feed from Grant Rounding and placed it past Nightingale for 9-1 at 54:32 before Wales completed his hattrick at 55:52 for 10-1. The game played itself out and the Bison’s series of home games against NIHL opposition came to a successful end.

What it was: Let’s not fool ourselves, this was obviously a comfortable win for the Bison with their augmented cup roster that was reduced to one import by Miroslav Vantroba’s match penalty the night before.

The line of Alex Sampford, Ryan Sutton and Hallam Wilson got a decent amount of ice time as a third line and despite only the one point between the three of them, they did no disservice to themselves. The potential is certainly there for the three of them and the hope would be further season with the Buffalo as well as further guest appearances this season with the Bison will set them up for an extended look in the summer and a chance to make the roster proper.

Grant Rounding was a good choice for man of the match; 2 goals and 3 assists and the continuing of his excellent work rate from the previous night against Peterborough. Whilst the opposition was not of the same quality as then night before, it was nice to see the effort of the weekend for Rounding rewarded with the beers and some numbers on the board.

Tomas Karpov’s hattrick was well taken and wry smile came across the face off Gillingham born Michael Wales when he completed his triple against the side from the county of his birth.

The game was what it was for the Bison; the younger players got ice time, there were no bad injuries and the children of Naomi House have some new teddy bears. That will do.

A word on our opponents: The third period soured the game for me on my opinion of the Dynamos. For 40 minutes they were being outclassed but were certainly causing issues for the Bison in the same way Chelmsford did before crumpling in the third period conceding 7 goals on 17 shots.

Whilst Steve Nightingale in his second full game of the season ended up getting lit up, general consensus around me was that he was the choice for man of the match and I’d agree. Nothing against former Bison junior prospect Elliott Dewey but where the Dynamos offered little going forward they were being kept in the game by their defence and some really good saves from the Peterborough born netminder including 19 saves in the first.

This game was the first time I’d had a chance to see Billy and Charlie Phillips. The reputation of the Phillips brothers preceded them a bit, my friends who are regular watchers of NIHL hockey having given me something of a low down on their playing style and they didn’t disappoint in that regard. The Phillips boys are physical hockey players and they don’t care if you like that or not. Whilst I’m aware NIHL fans feel they take the antics too far at times, there was nothing they did last night that overstepped the bounds of good taste with Billy’s hit on Andy Melachrino a hard one but of the highest quality.

Otherwise, bar Kevin Parrish screaming for too many men on what seemed every Bison line change it was a night at the office that the Dynamos will sweep under the rug and move on from. They don’t look as good a side as Chelmsford but I imagine they will be in the mix come the end of this season in NIHL South 1.

Lowlight of the night: Game was just a bit flat really.

Highlight of the night: I’ll say Long’s goal, when he unleashes the bombs we all enjoy it.

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