Running with the Herd – Bison vs Bracknell Bees 17/02/18

Basingstoke Bison 5-2 Bracknell Bees

Sutton x2                     Martin

Karpov                         Bakrlik dpg

Malinik

Rounding eng

The good, the bad and the ugly

The subtitle works though the words are somewhat in the wrong order if we’re honest with ourselves. The bad for the Bison was the first period. A slow, flat start saw them punished first by a very well worked goal from the visitors and then saw them found guilty of an age old Bison trope of pressing too hard and too high and a team catching them on the counter attack. The Herd did get something out of the period however through some good work from the first line and at least had a foothold in the encounter.

The second was very much the ugly, in all directions. As I was doing the match night updates I commented that the period started to represent something akin to a game of school playground football. Neither team had much in terms of shape or structure and everyone was rushing towards the puck trying to do something, anything but not achieving much. This entirely played into the Bees’ game plan and the general mood of people that I spoke to didn’t seem to have much hope for the third.

Then the third period happened and it was good, very good. From having looked out of ideas, in the space of 135 seconds the Herd were not just in control of the game but never looked like losing it. Combined with some interesting decisions of what wasn’t called in both directions by the match night official it made for a very interesting evening.

The Bison can be pleased about rebounding from another poor start at home but it’s becoming something of a worrying trait. The flip side of that particular coin is that the depth and quality in the Herd roster means that they cannot be counted out of any game and have the players to drag themselves back into an encounter when they find themselves behind the eight ball, even if they put themselves there.

I don’t think a single person in the building could argue with Ryan Sutton getting the beers on this occasion. Along with scoring the Herd’s first two goals, the upswing in Sutton’s form and consistency of his play has been one of the highlights of the Bison’s season. Whilst Sutton has seen his 5 on 5 play moved to the third line recently, this has been more to do with maximising the firepower and the because of how certain combinations work with other players rather than any issues with his play. His effectiveness as a screen on the powerplay hasn’t gone unnoticed either.

The other big stand out for the Bison last night was unquestionably Grant Rounding. That’s not to say that a lot of the Bison didn’t play well at times, Roman Malinik was again superb and a big part in helping drag the Herd back into the tie, but Rounding’s performance last night deserves a bit of context. After a season with somewhat up and down form as well as never quite seeming to find the ideal line for him, some sections of the fanbase had become a bit frustrated with Rounding. The potential felt like it was there but not the execution. Whatever Grant put on his ReadyBrek yesterday worked. This was arguably Rounding’s finest performance in a Bison jersey. Whether the former Bees man was trying to make a point to his former side or whether some switch in his brain magically flicked, the South African born forward was superb. His forechecking in particular (along with Sutton) last night was a joy to watch and the goal at the end was no less than his performance deserved.

For the sake of most of our hearts, the Herd need to stop digging themselves into holes. Whether they can dig themselves out of that hole or not, it is frustrating to see a side that we know can do the business for 60 minutes go literally to all the extremes in the space of one game.

However the Herd’s adaptation to their circumstances was good. They played themselves back into the tie, frustrated their opponents and used the visitors’ game plan against them to secure the win. Given the fact that Peterborough keep winning as well, as long as the Herd keep winning then many will argue that it doesn’t matter how pretty it is.

A word on our opponents:

If I’m a Bracknell Bees fan or coach Scott Spearing then I’m not happy about how this evening panned out. It started well; the Bees were the better side through the first twenty minutes and whilst the second period was an advert for ugly road hockey, this was exactly what the Bees needed to do to keep their lead they’d worked for an win. Then the third period happened.

You can understand why the Bees changed course. They were, pun fully intended, stung by the Bison at the start of the third. Having done so well to hold and frustrate the Herd they suddenly crumbled. It wasn’t that they handed the Herd the chances but they didn’t have an answer for what happened in front of them. So what did they need to do? Be more physical.

The problem with upping the physicality comes with two caveats. The first is that you need to accept that more penalties will likely come so you need to defend these well. The Bees did this relatively well as they didn’t give up a single powerplay goal.

The second however is to not lose your cool when the other side push back. This is what the Bees didn’t do. Danny Ingoldsby throwing his gloves down only to see Grant Rounding skate away will see some call Rounding a coward and others call him smart. Why, at 4-2 up in the third period in a game that the Bison need to win, is the shortest player on the team going to fight anybody, least of all a player who likes a good scrap? Call it cowardice, call it gamesmanship, call it being smart but the Bison kept their cool and won because of it.

Josh Martin got the beers for the Bees and I thought that was a fair enough. Martin’s always given a good accounting of himself whenever I’ve seen him and his combination with Carl Thompson for the Bees’ first was a very pretty goal. He also kept putting himself about for 60 minutes where I didn’t notice others on the Bees roster.

Some will criticise Alex Mettam for conceding so many goals so quickly but given some of the saves that he made it’s unfair to think that he wasn’t in the running for the man of the match.

You could tell that the Bees missed Josh Tetlow at the back but they can’t rely solely on the young man. They need to be able to close out games, they need to be able to control their temper. Going into this game, Bison coach Doug Sheppard said that the Bees were not playing like a 5th placed team and I have to agree with him on that. There were some excellent passages of play in this game that sees them being a threat to anyone in this league. The problem is that without being able to close out games or not descend into misconducts for daft things, then they will finish behind London.

Lowlight of the night: The Bees’ second goal was just horrible to watch

Highlight of the night: Malinik’s goal; great work by Sutton to take the hit to make the play then the Czech and Rounding’s passing and the finish were pretty.

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Running with the Herd – Bison vs Peterborough Phantoms 03/02/18

NIHL 1 South

Basingstoke Bison 4-3 Peterborough Phantoms

Scott pp                        Salem

Rounding                      Padelek

Smith                            Griffiths pp

Davies

A turning point:

As I’m writing this, it’s a couple of days after the fact. Sometimes life gets in the way of the writing and I had a long drive down to Cornwall the day after this game. I decided to not write that day as a result;what was the point of trying to write this on a day when I had to do a long drive for the first time with a small child? It meant I had a lot of time to consider what I was going to write about this game.

I’ve seen a lot of people have said that this was “the best game of the season so far” and at the risk of being controversial I don’t agree, certainly in terms of the quality of hockey played. Whilst parts of the first and third period had some decent play, the second period from both sides was almost comical in terms of the number of turnovers from both sides. In terms of the quality of hockey we saw, the recent Swindon game was a better display of this team’s skill level.

What this game was however was a significant psychological point for the Herd not just in terms of overcoming a side that they’ve historically had problems with but also in terms of the league title race. The Herd have a tougher run in than the Phantoms, having to face the Wildcats and Bracknell twice in the league, a potential cup final and a final game away in Peterborough compared to the Phantoms who have mostly NIHL classic sides left to play. This victory was significant because it fully puts the Bison’s league destiny in their own hands and in the past, the one thing that the Herd have managed to do in the crunch is run the table. This game was truly make or break in terms of the Herd’s title winning chances. Had they lost, the Phantoms effectively had one hand on the title. All the Herd have to do now is make it to overtime as a minimum in their final league encounter with Peterborough to take an important season series.

It was an important come from behind victory for the Herd after an OK first period and a very poor second, punctuated by Dean Skinns giving up two poor goals. Having done such good work on the penalty kill, the Bison backstop was beaten on an innocuous shot through the 5 hole and then had a looping puck bundled past him to have the Herd 2-0 down in the space of two minutes late in the second.

The Bison needed to pull something out of their back pockets and they managed to do so. When it came down to the crunch, the Herd worked hard to create their chances like the patient powerplay work to set up Dan Scott or Ryan Sutton’s steal of a puck to give Grant Rounding the chance to level things up.

Dan Davies got the man of the match beers for his game winning goal but it was hard to pick out any particular player from the Herd who particularly deserved individual recognition. Some will say Davies for the game winner or Scott for kickstarting the comeback or any of the other little things in the final period that added up to this. When it came down to the crunch, the roster put itself into a hole and it pulled itself out of it. Skinns tightened up in net. The defence shut down the Phantoms attach and the forwards grit their teeth and went to work. Whilst the Herd lost Roman Malinik late on to injury, they found a way through.

This win would have meant very little had the Bison managed to lose in Kent the following night. It was also mean little if they don’t find a way to get something out of the away game at Swindon this coming Saturday.

A word on our opponents:

The Peterborough Phantoms are an effective hockey team and Slava Koulikov is an effective coach. When they were having issues with netminding, Koulikov went out and strengthened in the form of Euan King to go behind what is an already stellar defence. They have a forward system that whilst not pretty to watch, forces turnovers and capitalises on mistakes. This is why the Peterborough Phantoms could well be NIHL 1 South champions. They do have the easier run in but sticking to their game plan and their consistency is what has them here.

On this night, it was a battle of who would make the most mistakes and who would capitalise on them. In the second period, the Phantoms won more of those battles. In the third they lost more of the battles.

The final twenty minutes of this game will be of concern to the Phantoms. When you’re 2-0 up heading into the final period of a game, to concede 4 goals in twenty minutes when you’ve had a netminder playing a good game and a good defensive effort up till that point. The powerplay goal is fair enough but the defensive lapses on goals two, three and four were uncharacteristic and when the Phantoms were firmly in control of the game and potentially the title race, they let the Bison back in and potentially Swindon with it.

Ales Padelek got man of the match for the visitors but I think the beers should have gone in the direction of Nathan Salem. What Salem did on this night was bigger than the goal he scored. His real talent is the fact that he can unsettle players he plays against with his skill and his physicality. People will talk about “behind the play” or “off the puck antics” but he does no more than most players do to each other. The thing for Salem again is that key word used above; it’s the effectiveness of it. His sense of timing for what he does is fascinating to watch. I think it says a lot that he guested for Coventry the following night and outshone the regular Blaze players.

With no cup finals to contend with (I do not believe that the Phantoms’ legal challenge with regards to the National Cup will be successful), Peterborough can go all in for a league title challenge. They do have the easier run to the finish line but if they don’t play 60 minutes in the remaining game then they will be destined to fall short again. If they go full throttle, they can dare to dream.

Lowlight of the night: The Phantoms’ first goal was a soft goal at a bad time.

Highlight of the night: The third period from the Herd; in the biggest game of the year to date, they ground out the win that was needed.


The BOTW Podcast – episode 68

Look, we changed how we title the episodes! However we’ve not changed our style of hockey chat.

Sean Phillips of the Red Army Roundup Podcast is on the show to talk Cardiff Devils, the EIHL and all sorts.

We’ve also got the round up and all the big news that caught our eye.

Remember to subscribe to The BOTW Podcast on iTunes HERE (go on, leave us 5 stars) and make sure you let us know what you like on Twitter or the BOTW Facebook page once you’ve listened.

The BOTW Podcast in association with Victory Hockey UK; the news, action and views from the NIHL and all levels above, below and in between.


Running with the Herd – Bison vs Hull Pirates 26/01/18

NIHL Autumn Cup Semi final first leg

Basingstoke Bison 4-3 Hull Pirates

Scott                            Chamberlain x2 (1pp)

Karpov                         Hewitt pp

Connolly

Malinik

It’s a start:

When the final buzzer sounded on the Herd’s 4-3 win I will confess to having felt somewhat conflicted about the result and all the more so as I come to write up this game. My emotions range from being pleased about the win to feeling the Bison should have made more of the game to feeling that the game is a semi final and that it being tight isn’t that bad because against a team they’ve not played this season, the Herd got the win here meaning that they can get the win in the East Riding.

The Bison dominated the play for large chunks of the game but (and how many times have we said this on this website) they lacked a clinical edge. On occasions they were given so much space but fell into their trap of over thinking and over playing the puck when just shooting was the easier and better option. Combined with 3 goals that could have been avoided, the result of this game sees the visitors still in the tie when there were more than enough chances to have put the tie to bed at home.

So whilst the game had its frustrations, it also had a lot of positives for the Herd with it. The Pirates somewhat inconsistent play saw the Herd be given lots of space to move the puck and that’s never a good idea.

Whilst Dan Scott got the man of the match beers for a decent performance and a really good shot for the first goal, the visitors had next to no answer for Roman Malinik and Aaron Connolly. The Bison captain has been on an inspired run of form through December and into the new year which combined with Malinik has really paid dividends for the Herd. Malinik’s physicality meant that the Pirates defencemen struggled to contain him and with Ryan Sutton acting as traffic that gave Malinik and Connolly space to play. Combined with the fact that both players are more than pleased to get stuck in (Connolly’s hit on Matty Davies was particularly nice) if the Pirates don’t get a measure of them in the return leg then it could be the thing that wins the Bison the tie.

It was the best game in the last few weeks from Tomas Karpov who benefited from the extra space being given but also from some excellent play on his wing from Hallam Wilson, the two combining for a very neat goal to put the Herd into a lead that they wouldn’t lose.

The combination of Antonov, Davies and Smith might have been the ones most guilty of over playing the puck but as a combination they are a lot of fun to watch. Antonov especially at the moment shows just what a superb skill set and hockey brain he has with the young man able to seemingly collect pucks from situations that seemed lost.

It wasn’t a great night for the defence in the grand scheme nor a good night for Dean Skinns’ stat line with 3 goals allowed on 19 shots. However the Pirates had more than 19 chances so whilst it wasn’t a world beating night, it was good and the team won. That’s the important thing.

After a disappointing campaign in the National Cup, the Herd have a real chance in the Autumn Cup and have set themselves up with an advantage heading into the second leg. It’s not much of an advantage but it is an advantage. The Bison were worthy winners on the night. However they must be more clinical in these bigger encounters because they have and will continue to get stung if they don’t.

A word on our opponents:

Pirates fans present at this game will likely try and paint this game as a valiant defensive action where they’ve kept themselves in the tie with the second leg at home. The later is true but the overall play of the Pirates left me confused at times. Teams being inconsistent over the course of a season is all well and good but the fluctuations within this one game were almost whiplash like.

From high pressing pressure and a really aggressive forecheck that pinned the Bison back in their own zone to giving the Herd so much space and time on the puck that it seemed that someone had attached lead to the Pirates’ skates during shift changes, it was certainly hard to get a read on the visitors at times.

One thing that wasn’t hard for anyone to understand; the combination of Bobby Chamberlain, Matty Davies and player/coach Jason Hewitt might be one of the best lines in the entire NIHL. All the effective offence as well as all the special teams play goes through that line. Davies getting man of the match was entirely justified and the Pirates’ centre was arguably the best player on the ice during this game. His vision for the pass is terrifying to watch though it will always bother me why such a talented player needs to spend so much time in the ear of the referee after any innocuous incident.

How will the Pirates win at home? The answer is two fold; play like they did in the first ten minutes for the entire 60 and get their other lines into the game more. Secondary offence was what was lacking for the Pirates on this evening and if the Herd find a way to effectively counter that incredibly impressive top line then the Bison will make the final at the expense of Hull. It’s as simple as that. However Jason Hewitt will be satisfied with the result given their run of games they have coming up. With last night being the 1st game of 8 games in 14 days, the Pirates that the Bison meet in the second leg might be running on fumes or running on adrenaline.

Lowlight of the night: The Pirates’ second goal was the worst one where the team defence wasn’t good enough.

Highlight of the night: Malinik’s goal was just reward for a superb performance. It was also a good shot


Running with the Herd – Bison vs Swindon Wildcats 20/01/18

NIHL 1 South

Basingstoke Bison 2-1 Swindon Wildcats after penalty shots

Sutton pp                      Bebris pp

Shootout (Bison shoot first)

Malinik saved                Jones saved

Davies scores               Bebris miss

Smith saved                  Nell saved

Nothing short of outstanding:

We’re not really ones for hyperbole here on BOTW but this was the best game that we’ve seen in Basingstoke in the 2017/18 in a couple of different ways. It was the best game of hockey that we’ve seen and it was also arguably the best team performance from the Bison that we’ve seen this campaign.

The atmosphere in the rink was charged to say the least given the recent rink situation and a full building was on hand bolstered by a very good travelling contingent of Wildcats fans. What we also saw was a Bison team fired up and clearly wanting to play for coach Doug Sheppard, in Canada mourning the recent loss of his mother, Beth. The Bison came flying out of the gate and kept the energy levels going.

Too often on this site we’ve criticised the Bison not playing for 60 minutes. In this game they played for 65 minutes and nobody took a shift off. That’s obviously being said in the context of the loss the next night in Swindon but it shows the quality in this roster. The Bison were unfortunate to be behind after twenty minutes but fought and battled, got their way back into the game and whilst they couldn’t find the winner in regulation, dominated overtime and then took the win in the shootout.

Ryan Sutton got man of the match mostly off of the back of a really pretty goal that, at the time in the game, had been coming. Neat pass to neat layoff gave Sutton plenty of space and the shot past Marr was outstanding. He did also have a good game where he constantly looked a threat, continuing his run of good form.

In terms of where I would have given the beers, for me they needed to go straight to Vanya Antonov. The young Russo-Brit’s skill level was terrifying at times and if anyone looked most likely to score at even strength, it was him. Some of the passes that he made as well were simply stunning.

Dean Skinns couldn’t do a single thing about the Wildcat’s goal but along with his opposite number (who we’ll get to in a moment) he was involved in something of a goalie duel in this game. Skinns made a number of quality stops and having been caught cheating across on his posts at times this season, covered all the angles. He did get fortunate when Edgars Bebris decided that shooting at the entire goal wasn’t as good as shooting into his outstretched glove for some reason.

The rest of the roster also gave a good account of themselves. Roman Malinik is fast becoming one of the most entertaining players on the Bison roster and watching him just charge past and through people is becoming. Dan Davies and Aaron Connolly looked as focussed as I’ve ever seen either of them with the captain giving the team talk heading into overtime and Davies doing his best Pavel Datsyuk impression in the shootout.

The loss on Sunday night put something of a downer on proceedings and it’s meant that Swindon have caught up slightly in the league table. However the glimmer of what this roster is truly capable of was seen and whatever else is happening off the ice, if this team can harness that then the other teams in the league will be in trouble more often than not.

A word on our opponents:

On a busy night in Basingstoke, the Swindon Wildcats fans were a credit to their organisation. They and the home fans made this game all the more enjoyable for what they brought to the game.

The criticism that gets levelled at my writing for expecting sides to come into Basingstoke and playing entertaining hockey gets a bit dull after a while. It also becomes a redundant criticism when you take into account how Swindon play. They come, play defensive hockey to try and nullify the Bison’s game but try to make something of it as well. With slick transitions and speed, they’re entertaining to watch.

Edgars Bebris got man of the match on this night which is fair enough; again he scored a good goal but for me the only real option here was Renny Marr. Marr made a string of really good saves and carried a Wildcats team that was playing its 5th game in 10 days. Aaron Nell said in his post game interview that Renny won them a point on this night and he wasn’t half wrong, even if we do disagree about the shootout being a coin flip. (See BOTWs passim for views on shootouts).

Nell himself had a good game with some good shots, only to be denied on multiple occasions by Dean Skinns. Otherwise it was a good all round performance from a really good Wildcats roster that still has a chance at winning all available trophies. However I’m not sure what Chris Jones was thinking with a really poor hit on Vanya Antonov which led to the Bison’s goal.

Credit to Wildcats for their resiliency as they then won the next night which was their 6th game in 11 days. The issue for the Wildcats has always been their consistency. Some poor early season results sees them needing to catch up in the league but if they’ve now hit that point when they play well whether busy or not, the drought for silverware might be over before too long.

Lowlight of the night: Less a lowlight and more just odd that 3 penalties putting someone to the floor near the boards all happened in the same corner and all were totally daft hits.

Highlight of the night: Dean Skinns deserves a ton of credit for the shootout winning save but Sutton’s goal is too pretty to deny here.


BOTW State of the Rink address 22/1/18

If the desire is there… (c) 5 Hole Photography

People will accuse me of being an idealist and on a lot of things I’d likely agree. However I am also a realist and it’s possible to be both of these things. They are not mutually exclusive positions, at least not to me. It is possible to be flexible but also have lines in the sand that we will not cross, to be firm but know when you have to concede a bit of ground.

Also, and despite what some might claim, I do not claim to be an authority within ice hockey in Basingstoke or Britain or anywhere else. All BOTW has ever been was a means of getting out how I feel. I’m a hockey fan but I am also a writer with the fact being I appear to be at my best when writing about hockey. I’m articulate and analytical whilst also being passionate about the club I support and the sport I love.

If you walked into the ice rink known Basingstoke Arena today, what you would see is a sorry sight. Many of us are attached to the rink for a variety of reasons but we have to say what we see. The floors slope, the state of various walls sees plaster crumbling off of it, one entire side of seating has been closed due to subsidence along with one side of the plexiglass leaning and the DJ box being demolished due to similar problems. That doesn’t include other issues with the quality of the ice, the quality of food and drink options or just general customer experience with the facility.

Planet Ice, the operator of the facility, were recently quoted in the Basingstoke Gazette, as feeling that the ice rink might not be viable in the medium term due to the work required to upgrade the facility. They will be reassessing the situation at the end of the current ice hockey season.

The above issues also sit within the context of the recently announced plans from Basingstoke and Deane Council about the redevelopment of the Leisure Park site. Within the announcement, there was no mention of the ice rink in the plans. In an appearance on BBC Radio Berkshire on 16th January, Robert Tate, Cabinet Member for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement on Basingstoke and Deane Council said that the ice rink had not been mentioned because the council does not own the building and it would be wrong to speak for the developer. He also said that there would be a public consultation and “if there is a desire” for a rink then there would be one.

An ice rink is a business and it has to operate as such. We accept this is the reality in which we live and it makes sense to use as much business best practice as possible. However too often, as was the case with the closure of the rink at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, this is used as an excuse for putting the blinkers on a process and railroading it to a conclusion. Yes, it is a business but businesses do not exist in a bubble where only the rules of business apply and it cannot be used as an excuse to do things with impunity. There are bigger concerns at play than simply a bottom line. Some will refute that as being overly emotional and not living in the real world. The real world deals with people’s emotions and reactions. To sideline those is not living in the real world.

Ice rinks, like swimming pools or museums or leisure centres and the like, are community assets. The value of them to the community sits alongside and arguably outweighs a base value as a profit making concern. People can ask for a cost benefit analysis and the right person will give it to them but for a local councillor to ponder over if there is a desire for a rink when the current one, even in the state that it is in is being used over 16 hours a day sadly smacks of obliviousness to one of the towns stand out leisure features for the people on the town council.

The other frustration in all of this comes form the current operators, Planet Ice. It’s worth remembering that Planet Ice own and operate the Bison and I’ll be honest; on strictly hockey related matters, my relationship with those involved has been good. We’ve respected each other’s position on things and whilst we’ve disagreed, it’s generally been done in an adult way because ultimately we’ve always been pulling in the same direction.

I don’t proportion blame to them or to the day to day staff at the arena. Blaming the bar staff or whoever serves the hot dogs and pizzas for the current state of the rink is pointless. The people there turn up to work, want to do their jobs and go home. The issue with Planet Ice has been much more substantive.

As the recent release from the junior club makes clear, there is a serious permafrost issue and a substantial amount of work is likely required to keep the facility operational and how much will need to be done and spent to keep it going till any redevelopment is likely to start. As the operators of the building the state of it lies at Planet Ice’s door. Choices have been made along the way that could have prevented this but, for whatever reason, they weren’t made. Many of us would be interested to hear why those decisions were taken by those at the higher levels of Planet Ice as it’s them, not the day to day staff who brought this scenario into being. The lack of engagement from them to the vast numbers of people who use the rink on a regular basis is practically spellbinding.

With all of the above in mind, Banners On the Wall lays out the following;

  1. Banners On The Wall calls on Basingstoke and Deane Council to substantively and definitively stand up for its large ice sports community. The ice rink is home to the town’s most successful and best known sports team, the Basingstoke Bison as well as hundreds of other ice hockey players, ice dancers and casual users as well as welcoming thousands of spectators from around the country every year. Whilst the council can argue that it does not wish to speak for a developer of the Leisure Park site, it should speak for the town as well as in defence of one of its best used facilities and the town’s premier sports club.

  2. The current state of the Basingstoke Arena is not acceptable for ice users or spectators. We ask the senior management of Planet Ice to give a full explanation for why the facility is in its current state and ask them to announce, as soon as possible, their plans going forward with the rink until any Leisure Park development begins.

  3. If the current facility is not viable past the end of the 2017/18 ice hockey season then given the obvious need and desire for such a facility to be available we call on both Basingstoke and Deane Council and Planet Ice to make every available effort for a temporary ice facility in the town until the start of any development.

  4. We also call on Basingstoke and Deane Council to be explicit in their desire to keep an ice facility and the town’s skating community in the town before, during and after any public consultation.

Here is where you come in;

If you live in Basingstoke then contact your councillor as well as Basingstoke’s representative on Hampshire County Council, Michael Westbrook and the MP for Basingstoke, Maria Miller. Write to them about the situation. If you go to https://www.writetothem.com/ and put in your postcode, it will allow you to contact them from one helpful space as well as give you tips for how to write a letter to them. Tell them why this building means so much to you and the town and invite them down to watch a game or a practice or a demonstration.

For those outside of Basingstoke wishing to help, please keep signing and sharing the petition here (https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/keep-an-ice-rink-in-basingstoke) as well as contacting Councillor Robert Tate at Basingstoke Council via Cllr.Robert.Tate@basingstoke.gov.uk and Maria Miller via maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk

Since I first walked into the Basingstoke rink in late 2005, I’ve been made welcome and made friends from across the country and the world as a result of ice hockey. Basingstoke gets a bad rap as a boring place and maybe it is just a dormitory town for some. For me, it’s people who have stood by me and their team. Basingstoke is a hockey town. Banners On The Wall has been a space to shine a light on what happens to the Basingstoke Bison and this is our commitment that this site will stand by those who have supported their team, their town and myself till its conclusion.


The BOTW Podcast – episode 67

Hey you, you want hockey chat? Then hockey chat you shall get.

Streatham forward and journalist, Jacob Ranson joins the podcast to take his hockey travels, coming home and his life covering local sport.

There’s that as well as all the other big news to keep you company on your way to the rink.

Remember to subscribe to The BOTW Podcast on iTunes HERE (go on, leave us 5 stars) and make sure you let us know what you like on Twitter or the BOTW Facebook page once you’ve listened.

The BOTW Podcast in association with Victory Hockey UK; the news, action and views from the NIHL and all levels above, below and in between.