Running with the Herd – Bison vs Guildford Flames 10/12/16Posted: 11/12/2016
Basingstoke Bison 2-4 Guildford Flames
Karpov sh Phillips x2 (1pp)
Jarolin pp Satek x2 (1 eng)
In your head?:
So, where do we start on this one that doesn’t make it sound exactly like the last match report from a Flames game? This game had a bit of everything; the swing of emotions was dramatic because this was a very good game of hockey that had some really frustrating bits to it, and boy were there some bits to be frustrated about.
In the last match report, I mentioned that the Bison needed to make the most of any special teams chances that they got in this congested festive period and whilst the Bison only scored special teams goals last night, a very well taken short handed effort by Tomas Karpov and a very nice snipe by Rene Jarolin, the failure of the powerplay unit to get going in the first period cost the Bison dearly in this game. The Flames took five minor penalties through the first 40 minutes of the game including a stretch that gave the Bison about 1.40 of powerplay time and didn’t score on one of them.
A long running joke amongst a few people at Bison games goes thus; whenever I get angry about something at a game, match night volunteer Eleanor Bradbury makes reference to a Simpsons gag that shows a newspaper with a picture of Abe Simpson and the headline “old man yells at cloud”. It wasn’t just me yelling at the cloud last night as the entire rink was frustrated by the archetypical Bison issue on the powerplay which is they tried to be too cute with the puck.
Yelling shoot on the powerplay is considered one of those cardinal sins amongst hockey fans because winding up and firing for the sake of it is pointless. The powerplay unit is trying to stretch the defence and create the holes to pass or shoot into. The Bison seemed to be creating the holes and then just didn’t put the shots on net. It was literally headscratching at times during the evening.
For some reason, the Bison just don’t seem to hit their stride against Guildford. Part of that is down to the Flames themselves and we’ll touch on that in a bit but part of it seems to be in the Bison’s own heads. The league leaders come into Basingstoke last week and are dispatched with relative ease. Guildford come in and the wheels get gummed up and they just don’t seem to function as normal. The Flames frustrate them and hit on the counter and the Herd seemingly get caught with this tactic again and again. The forwards then start trying to do everything themselves rather than having any coherent strategy going forward. Bison put “shots” on the net that don’t test the netminder. In the third period, Tomas Hiadlovsky allowed two goals on two shots. Why do the Bison play their game against the other 8 sides they face in the EPL then throw the book out of the window when they play Guildford?
That’s not to say that the Bison played badly overall. This was actually a very entertaining and very good game of hockey for the neutral. It was just really frustrating knowing what the team can do. Also (and even the staunchest Flames fan will have to admit) the Flames third goal was more luck than intention as Kevin Phillips’ shot deflected off of Declan Balmer’s skate. How the Bison reacted to that setback was the bigger issue.
The three new players all gave a good account of themselves. Joe Miller was lively and industrious. As predicted in his Building the Herd piece Joe Rand was sent out to grind and hit people and whilst he clearly isn’t 100% up to speed having not played much, we were treated to the usual Joe Rand effort. Dan Scott looked the best of the new signings for me. I only noticed him once when he couldn’t hold the pass at the blueline but that’s what I want of a stay at home defencemen.
Some will say that because his shirt sponsor was sponsoring the game, that Rene Jarolin was always destined to get the beers but he was the Bison’s best player on the night. Tomas Karpov ran him close for effort but Jarolin has been the Bison’s best player over the last couple of weeks. Where Roehl and Long couldn’t find that touch last night, Jarolin could.
However here we are again, left dissecting a home loss to the Flames. It feels that Doug Sheppard has again been outcoached by Paul Dixon. The Bison are not a bad hockey team and I don’t believe in luck so it’s not a jinx but they need to get over this hump. As the season winds on. They have a couple of weeks to regroup and try again.
A word on our opponents:
Run this line combination through your head; Jens Eriksson, Michal Satek and Ben Campbell. This might be the most entertaining forward line I’ve watched this season from a visiting side. How none of those three got man of the match was a bit of a mystery. I like Dean Skinns but again, he wasn’t massively tested despite the Bison putting 40 shots on him. The line of 90, 60 and 48 for the Flames has a bit of everything. Combined with the fact that Ben Campbell is slowly becoming one of the best Brits of his type in the league, it’s got the set-up guy, the natural scorer and the guy who clatters through people. If Paul Dixon has one iota of sense then he will not break up this line.
As I said above, a chunk of the Bison’s undoing was of their own making but the Flames do deserve credit for playing a good road game. They did what all good away teams do (and to whoever runs the Flames Twitter account, means your name goes second) which is know your opponent’s strengths and neutralise them. For the Flames, whilst their defence is not the most mobile, their defence is solid. They know that the Bison are going to take a lot of shots so let them have them but do the best that you can to make sure that they are not of high quality. Did the Flames outplay the Bison? No. Did they out-think them? Yes.
The Bison changed their game plan to suit their opponents and it failed at home for the second time. Whilst the game was quieter for the lack of Tom Duggan, for the Flames to play the way they do in Basingstoke means that the team have to buy in to that game plan for 60 minutes which they do. None of the supporting cast did anything particularly spectacular, at times Tuomas Santavuori was a bit anonymous, but they everyone did their job. It was also my first chance to get a look at Jared Lane who certainly shows some promise.
Flames now have 4 wins in the last 5 and are starting to look like the Flames of old. This is bad news for everyone if they really get back to that expected Flames consistency.
Lowlight of the night: The powerplay, just uggh.
Highlight of the night: No, it’s not all the Flames fans leaping from their seat when Maslonka shot wide, funny though that was. For me, I’ll say Karpov’s goal; the pass from Hiadlovsky alone was great but credit to Karpov for having the confidence to go 5 hole.