Curtain Down 2014/15

It is done. The 2014/15 EPIHL campaign is over, the trophies and medals are handed out which means it’s time to rock and roll with wrapping all this up. This is Curtain Down.

The playoff weekend:

It was another superb weekend in terms of my enjoyment of the 2015 EPL finals weekend. Phil and Debi Perry are absolute saints for getting me from Basingstoke to Coventry. I hope the travel snacks were of suitable quality. Paul, Becky and Sam Shipman did a fantastic job of looking after me, feeding me absurdly well and helping me process what I had seen across the weekend. Between them as well as seeing the entire Coles family of Stu, Kerry, Isaac and Madeleine, the enjoyment that they’ll all get from the Blaze winning the EIHL playoffs is something I’m delighted to see.

The hockey over the weekend was interesting to see the least;

The first semi final was an entertaining game that, aside from solidifying why Slava Koulikov was coach of the season, just hammered home a variety of hockey clichés about how working hard beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Phantoms closed off the passing lanes and if Telford had a plan b then they didn’t use it. Most of their players who made the all star teams didn’t show up and a bunch of depth guys for the Phantoms like Scott Robson stepped up, Cam McGiffin had the game of his life and Janis Auzins had his eye in.

The second semi final was rubbish. It was an awful game of hockey, it just was. The quote I used was “it was two teams with an alphabet of 25 letters because there was no D anywhere”. Neither keeper had a particularly good Manchester were the better side and won.

The final was somewhere between the two; it wasn’t an outstanding game but it certainly wasn’t as bad as the second semi final. Ultimately it was the right result because Peterborough were the best team across the weekend and the best British player to ever play the sport went out with the rapturous reception he deserved. Certainly if you’d told me after that opening night brawl that Auzins started that Peterborough would win the playoffs I would have been sceptical. Congratulations to the Phantoms on their win.

The season:

We all knew it was likely to not be as good as the season before. It wasn’t. No trophies, didn’t make the semi finals of the cup let alone defend it and out at the quarter final stage of the playoffs. Easy to be down about it all but ultimately the Bison had to contend with a different beast this season; the cup competition massively altered, a 9 team league with one team turned up to 11 in terms of the quality of players on them and the sheer number of them and others racing to keep up with them.

The Bison were the first team to beat Telford across the season, had the second highest British points scorer in the league in Ciaran Long who along with Joe Greener was in the top 20. We got to see some different faces in the form of the NIHL sides and got to see the Bison play a very solid, competitive game. A third placed finish in this league is nothing that I’m going to sniff at.

I’m giving the season a middle B. I think that’s fair based on the overall results, the quality of what I’ve seen and the final outcomes for everything. There’s tweaks to be made, at least one face we know that won’t be coming back (more on that soon) and what promises to be the most active and interesting off season we’ve seen for quite a while. The Bison as a club will emerge the other side of it and we await to see what we are left with when the dust settles.

The thank yous:

I start as I always should do with my wife Emily; she is my constant supporter in all my writing and podcasting endeavours. There’s never a complaint or anger about anything I try to do with this crazy hobby of mine, just love and understanding. Thanks hun.

Once again Grant King’s photographs from everything at 5 Hole Photography have made the pieces on this blog sing time and again. Aside from being one of the best as what he does, Grant is just a stand up guy within the hockey community in Basingstoke so this is going to be in capital letters; SUPPORT WHAT HE DOES. Don’t knick his stuff, buy it and support him. We’re lucky to have him.

A thanks as always to those within the Bison like John Neville and Graham Bell who are supportive of what I do here without seeking once to change what I say or interfere. Other people at other clubs aren’t as lucky so whilst I’m outside of the organisation’s influence here, the working relationship between BOTW and the Bison is a good one. I appreciate that greatly.

A massive thanks to any and all my friends at the rink for as always doing the most important of jobs; telling me when I am wrong. No matter where you sit at Basingstoke, the chatter, the friendship even when I’m being an idiot is appreciated and important. Remember last April, those days will be ours again.

Thanks too the the slowly growing EPL bloggers and podcasters union. There’s stuff getting out there providing good insightful content on our league and elsewhere. Do you like what you read or hear or is it rubbish? Say something constructive because we’ll only get better with feedback.

Lastly, Doug and the boys; there’s nothing to write about without them.

Going forward:

Banners On The Wall is arguably the best read blog on anything in the EPIHL, one of the better read ones in British hockey as a whole and The BOTW Podcast has had a decent first season. So what is going to happen? Keep moving forward.

An increasing level of quality coverage and getting the podcast more better from a technical standpoint are my goals for the year. It’s a hard job to do in some ways, this is all a hobby but I’ll invest time and try. Thank you for 4 seasons of sticking by this and what I try to do.

There’s obviously news to come but first we say goodbye to a British hockey legend of our own.

Catch you soon,



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