Running with the Herd – Bison vs Bracknell Bees 21/1/17


Basingstoke Bison 5-0 Bracknell Bees

Antonov x2 (1pp, 1ps)




Sticks up for the win:

The current in joke amongst the Bison roster when they score is to grab the stick right at the butt end and raise it high in the air after scoring or winning. It’s weird and quirky but then so are the roster so there’s no surprise there. It also happened a fair few times on Saturday evening as the Bison, without some of their top end players, cruised to victory over the Bees.

No Declan Balmer, Aaron Connolly, Dan Davies, Joe Miller or Joe Rand in the line up for varying reasons (the Bison rarely comment on small injuries though word is of a small flu outbreak in the camp) but a successful and uneventful debut in the senior side for defenceman Kyle Goddard and forward Paul Petts. Both have played regularly for the u18s, u20s and Buffalo over the last little while and with gaps in the roster against a team struggling for its playoff live without some of its more senior players this was a sensible game to give the two of them an outing. Neither did anything spectacular in either direction nor did either get tons of minutes but they certainly gave a good account of themselves. They weren’t babied or mollycoddled but when it was needed, the more experienced players did their job of supporting and protecting them, such as Ciaran Long stepping in to have a word with James Galazzi after some unintentional contact by Petts on Alex Mettam. The two didn’t race out and try to set the world alight but went out and did what was asked of them. It was a debut of promise for both young men.

With some of the top end players out for the Bison, this game could have been a banana skin for the Herd but it actually followed much of a similar pattern to the game a few weeks ago against the Bees; the Bison just had too much in them. The Bees did have spells of pressure and outshot the Bison in the third but the majority of the game was controlled by the Herd and they had the better chances.

The story of the goals was an array of ex-Bees finding the net against their former club. Vanya Antonov took man of the match for one very well taken goal and a lovely penalty shot in the first period combined with the generally looking like he could score at a moment’s notice. On a line with Rene Jarolin, the only goalscorer to have not played for Bracknell, the young Russo-Brit tormented his former employers at times.

Matt Towalski’s goal was very fortunate as Alex Mettam was down on the ice at the time. Rene Jarolin had crashed the net with a Bees defenceman trying to mark him out of the play, the Bees defender seemingly made the last bit of contact with his own netminder and the loose puck was laid up by Jarolin for Towalski to fire in to the empty net.

A big cheer as well was reserved for Grant Rounding’s first goal of 2017 and his first for a while. The British forward has been snake-bitten since late 2016 but found a vein to race through, shrugged off getting high sticked on his way through and managed to slip the puck past Mettam for the Bison’s 5th. Rounding’s effort has not been matched by his offensive output but that one goal saw the confidence of the South African born forward instantly lift. Rounding’s industrious nature has never been in doubt but he now needs to find a way to turn that into more points.

Tomas Hiadlovsky’s third shutout of the season was not without incident as the visitors did have moments of being on top offensively but the Bison defence operates on a very simple premise that the defenders will try and stop any and all shots that they can but they trust Hiadlovsky to stop the ones that get through. The only shot that beat him from Josh Smith rang off of the post; they do say you have to be good to be lucky.

Ultimately the Herd’s only game of the weekend was not one played in the highest of intense states but it was another job done for the Herd. With Peterborough’s crushing win over Hull, the race for third place remains on.

A word on our opponents:

I’ve said before that I like Bracknell and I do. They do lack the quality edge of other teams in the EPL, they do need to grind their way past teams and be more than the sum of their parts to do it. They skated hard last night and played Bees hockey, I can respect that. Arguably what they lacked most last night was two of the players who were out with injury.

Aside from the fact that Matt Foord and Scott Spearing are veteran players in this Bees lineup, what would have served the Bees well last night was being that little bit more physical and trying to agitate the Bison. A home side lacking some of its physical presence would have been ripe for Scott Spearing to crash, bang and cause mayhem. Sadly nobody else was able to really do the business on their own or stepped up to do that which was odd given some of the physical players on the Bees roster.

The man of the match choice for the Bees was not a massive surprise and I have a lot of time for Shaun Thompson but I think there were two better options for man of the match for the visitors. One was Alex Mettam who despite conceding 5 goals made a string of very good saves and gave a decent account of himself but my choice would have been Rio Grinnell-Parke. Recently selected for GB’s u18s side, the former Romford junior was a constant thorn in the side of Derek Roehl and in a side that sets its stall out by being full of energy and working hard, Grinnell-Parke skated and worked the hardest for Bracknell on the night for me.

It’s another tough game for the Bees tonight against Milton Keynes but with Sheffield also in action, the Bees need to start finding ways to sneak wins against any side that they can. They sprung something of an upset against Hull last week, can they do it again? Form says no but this is hockey. Form is relative.

Lowlight of the night: Young player on debut makes inadvertent contact with netminder and gets chased by senior Bees player. Not sure what James Galazzi was hoping to achieve with that.

Highlight of the night: Antonov’s penalty shot was pretty but I’m going to give it to Grant Rounding for finally finding the back of the net. It’s been a long time coming.


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