Running with the Herd – Bison vs Telford Tigers 8/4/17

EPIHL Playoff Semi Final

Basingstoke Bison 2-3 Telford Tigers

Roehl pp ………………….Clarkson x 2 (1pp)

Jarolin ……………………..Jones

Out of gas:

Banners On The Wall has always tried to be a place where the analysis is fair but make no mistake, this place has always been partisan. When asked in the run up to this game how I thought it would go, I tried to be rational and sensible. I tried to call it down the middle and was accepting of the fact that there were ways that the Bison could lose this game. Then Saturday evening rolled around, the nerves kicked in and I was shouting with the rest of them. I was also disappointed when it was done.

However, done it is and ultimately it was simply the fact that the team gave everything and ran out of energy. In what was a really evenly matched and tightly fought contest, the massive 5 minute penalty kill from the Aaron Connolly game penalty for boarding emptied the tank. The Bison ran out of steam and ran out of ideas. There’s no shame in that. The Bison needed a big final 20 minutes, gave everything they had and sadly came up short. That’s hockey.

On the BOTW Podcast I said that the one thing that the Bison needed to do was be good defensively and keep their discipline. The moments that didn’t cost them. The one massive penalty yielded the game winning goal and the two of the other three defensive lapses saw goals scored but actually the defensive corps had a good game I thought. Tomas Hiadlovsky will likely want the first and third goals back but made a string of decent saves and recovered well from being run by Jason Silverthorn in the early stages of the game, a penalty that led to Roehl’s goal.

With regards to Roehl, whilst he had a good game I feel that Vanya Antonov was robbed of man of the match. All of the Bison’s best work came through the line of Antonov, Rene Jarolin and Joe Miller. They were a constant threat and the Tigers struggled to deal with that combination all night. Jarolin’s goal in particular was a thing of beauty; a tic, tac toe manoeuvre that put the Slovakian behind the Tigers defence where he proceeded to remove Jon Baston from his shorts.

The issue for the Bison going forward was that the other lines just never really quite found their stride during even handed play. Connolly’s penalty meant that the lines had to be shuffled and they still just couldn’t find a way through against a well drilled Tigers side who did a good job off running out the clock.

The fairy tale ending was in sight when the Bison got a late powerplay but sadly the powerplay that has been the failing of the Herd on occasions just couldn’t lift itself. The tank was empty and the season was done. We’ll obviously go into the season in greater depth in Curtain Down but there was no reason for the Bison to be ashamed of that performance. It was effort every shift and played in the right spirit, it was Bison hockey.

A word on our opponents:

This was a good and a bad match for the Telford Tigers. It was good because they played well, played their systems to perfection and saw the game out once the had the lead. The bad comes from the fact that they had to work so hard to achieve that win that it no doubt played into the fact that Milton Keynes thumped them the following day. However we’ll cover that later this week.

This particular game was one where you saw why Telford won the league; they found the ways to make breakthroughs where others don’t. They went 1-0 and 2-1 down but found ways to get back into the tie. Whatever feelings you have about the off ice antics in Telford, the team on the ice on Saturday found those margins needed. They found those gaps that they needed. Sadly one of them was through Tomas Hiadlovsky.

Doug Clarkson got man of the match and this was actually spot on for me. Clarkson did his job to perfection on the night. He was a physical threat when needed, he was a scoring threat when needed. The game winning goal was the sort of goal that the Canadian has scored all season which was a nice one timer from the hashmarks that managed to make it through the 5 hole of Hiadlovsky. From there all he had to do was help get in the way. I can’t always say I liked the way Clarkson played, even in this game, but credit where it’s due to a man who played with a smile on his face. I wish him the best in retirement.

Jon Baston would come back to haunt the Bison in this one. Having had something of a slow start with the Tigers, Baston certainly found his stride on Saturday night where he made save after save in the clutch. In the last minute with the game on Derek Roehl’s stick, Jon Baston took it away and saw Telford into the playoff final.

Obviously this report is written after the final and what happened there. However as for Saturday night, we have to tip our hat to them. Much like when the Tigers beat the Bison 4-2 in Basingstoke, they found a way to outlast the Herd over the course of 60 minutes. The other discussions surrounding the Tigers are not for here. This one is about the game. They won it, more power to them.

Lowlight of the night: Jason Silverthorn is the best player in the EPL this season, there was no reason to run the goalie in the first few minutes of the game.

Highlight of the night: Jarolin’s goal, it was better than Bakrlik’s for me.

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