Just three weeks ago the Basingstoke Bison had hosted the Milton Keynes Lightning and the result had ended comfortably in favour of the home team. The Planet Ice derby continued for the second time in the season as the Buckinghamshire side returned to Hampshire to resume battle.
Basingstoke Bison 3 Milton Keynes Lightning 1
Bison went into the game missing Joe Baird, Lightning were missing Mikolaj Lopuski but Antti Holli made his debut. Officials for the night were Roman Szucs in charge with Justin Lalonde and Amy Lack on the lines.
Just after 6.30 face-off happened and on the back of a big defeat last time the visitors looked to get an early jump on their hosts. Milan Baranyk was the first shooter in the game but Tomas Hiadlovsky looked sharp early on. Both teams showed their speed, James Griffin was stood up at the blue line and Grant Rounding was away but denied by Przemyslaw Odrobny. Lewis Hook then skated the length of the ice, dancing round the defence before a Hiadlovsky poke check skilfully took the puck from the opponent.
Glenn Billings rushed into the zone, shot and as Hiadlovsky deflected his shot away Kurt Reynolds took down Billings as he looked for the rebound. Moments later Billings got round Reynolds but in doing so left the puck with the defenceman.
Derek Roehl came skating in and tested Odrobny but the Lightning netminder was down quickly for the save. Baranyk was back skating towards the Bison net but having done all the hard work lost his footing before being able to shoot.
As the six minute mark passed Sam Jones found himself called off-side. This didn’t stop the Lightning as, off the face off, they quickly gained the zone. They kept pressure on the Bison defence and goaltender but eventually Aaron Connolly broke away. As he crossed the centre line he shot a speculative effort which left Odrobny a relatively easy save.
Luc Johnson skated quickly and his back hand shot saw Hiadlovsky make a save and cover for a whistle. Off the next play the game’s first penalties were called as Derek Roehl and Frantisek Bakrlik both picked up delay of the game penalties meaning a spell of 4 on 4.
With no scoring as yet the highlight, to date, of the first period happened when Declan Balmer absolutely levelled Craig Scott with a beautiful open ice hit. This left the puck free for the Bison and Vanya Antonov danced round Griffin but was denied by Odrobny. As Anotnov went in behind the net looking for the puck Griffin hit the young Bison forward and he Bison captain came in to look after his team mate. With a delayed penalty call against the Lightning pending the Connolly hit was enough to stop play and Griffin and Connolly both picked up coincidental charging minors at 8.22
A shot by Lewis Hook screamed past the post as both teams returned to full strength but that wouldn’t last long. With the puck lose in the slot a battle commenced to get their first, the puck was out of reach of Hiadlovsky and Bakrlik and Balmer were the first two on scene to try and get the puck. As others arrived the referee had seen enough and called Bakrlik and Balmer for slashing at 9.20 meaning it was back to 4 on 4.
Chances followed at both ends as Tomas Karpov was denied by Odrobny then Jones tested Hiadlovsky but found the Bison shot stopper too good for him at 10.01
Leigh Jamieson gained the zone and shot from the hash marks but high over the net and as the puck came back out the zone Baranyk protested the lack of a holding call! As play stopped the Lightning player again appealed for the penalty but there was no call to be made and at 10.50 Connolly and Griffin both returned from their coincidental penalties.
30 seconds later it was back to 5 on 5 as the slashing penalties on Balmer and Bakrlik expired.
Tit for tat continued, Balmer forced a turnover and quickly sprung Antonov who skated from the defensive zone to the attacking zone solo but Odrobny ended the run with a save, then Jones shot from the blue line at Hiadlovsky but the shot wouldn’t penetrate the Bison goal as Hiadlovksy kept his net un-breached.
Some good Lightning chances would come, the first undone by Chamberlain being in the crease area and taking the face-off outside the zone. Off the Lightning won face-off they got back into the zone and Baranyk committed Hiadlovksy to saving his shot but the rebound fell for Bakrlik with an open net but somehow he couldn’t get the puck in.
There was no such error at 14.32 when the score opened, in favour of the home team. Good passing between Roehl and Davies saw Long with the puck, he shot high, the puck hit the cross bar and dropped into the goal for the opener.
With Bison now on the front foot and Lightning chasing the game Bakrlik and Roehl came together by the Bison blue line. Bakrlik took down Roehl and held him on the ice but this drew the attention of Roman Szucs who awarded both players 2 minute slashing and 2 minute roughing minors at 14.52
With extra space on the ice two quick fire Bison chances happened. Connolly shot but just too high and soon after Mogg sent in a drive from the blue line. Then Lightning were back in the attacking zone but as Carlon shot Reynolds dived to block the shot. Soon after Reynolds got enough of an attempt by Chamberlain to slow it right down for an easy Hiadlovsky save.
A long stretch pass found Ciaran Long and as the Bison forward took the zone he shot but Odrobny saved and held the puck. The resulting whistle saw Roehl and Bakrlik return.
Holli got his first shot away coming to the end of the first period but when the buzzer sounded at 20.00 it was the Bison who could leave the ice holding their lead.
It’s not often that the Bison are outshot in a period the way they play their hockey but the first period saw the Lightning edge the shot count 12-9 but the Bison dug in deep, weathered the attacks and Ciaran Long was bang on when he needed to be to give the Herd a lead.
Derek Roehl made an early journey to the net at the start of the second period but the puck just wasn’t sliding on the wet ice and while he arrived the puck had got left behind. With the puck back under control Connolly and Rene Jarolin sped in but the puck disappeared under Odrobny who didn’t appear quite how he’d made the save but seemed happy he had.
Some good play from the visitors gave Billings the opportunity to shoot but it was easily gloved away by Hiadlovksy. Then Jarolin made a quick move to the net and got off a back hand that flashed through the crease but there was nobody there for the re-direct.
Bison were enjoying some good chances, Connolly and Jarabek both got shots off in quick succession. Connolly’s was saved cleanly, Jarabek’s did leave a rebound but it fell safely for the Lightning who cleared the danger.
With a delayed penalty call on the Bison Hiadlovsky lunged from his crease to smother the puck and prevent a delayed penalty goal. As the whistle blew Derek Roehl found out the penalty was on him as he picked up a high sticks minor.
With Bison shorthanded Davies sent the puck down the ice for Long to chase, Odrobny went for the puck to but unlike his race with Karpov three weeks ago Odrobny won this race. He controlled the puck and fed it on to allow the Lightning to go on and convert the powerplay into the equalising goal. Cownie and Bakrlik combined with the latter getting the puck to the net and Baranyk made the deflection in front that beat Hiadlovsky at 27.20 for 1-1.
Now back at even on the scoreboard both teams made an upping in the game’s tempo. Jarolin’s big blast was quickly followed by something similar from Jamieson with Jamieson’s going safely wide.
An unsavoury incident then occurred as Cownie got stood up by Mogg at the blue line, the Lightning back tracked but then Cownie came back again, whistled off side. After the whiste he still decided to shoot which angered Ciaran Long. Bison’s goal scorer picked up a 2+2+10 for attempted butt ending and Lightning started a 4 minute powerplay.
As the midway mark came around on the powerplay Lightning were in control in the zone, passing well but when the shot came in Hiadlovsky saved well. Bison won the face-off and set off on a quick shorthanded chance as the first of the two minute minor penalties expired.
With two quick back to back saves from Hiadlovsky the Long minor penalties expired and Bison returned to five skaters with the penalised player sitting out his 10 minutes.
Dan Davies won a battle on the board and fed Jarolin but he couldn’t get clean contact on to the pass to direct it to goal. Blaz Emersic’s back handed looking for someone waiting at the back door never got that far as Hiadlovksy smothered the feed with his glove.
Reynolds and Karpov joined forces to battle along the boards for a puck on the left side, Karpov came away with the puck, skated round the net and tried a wrap around. As the second period looked to be closing out Thompson laid off a drop pass for Connolly who shot and Thompson went to search out the rebound but the second period ended 1-1.
The third period got off to a great start for the home team as they edged back ahead 95 seconds after the re-start. Antonov gave Karpov the puck and he skated to the net before sending in a high back hand chance. Odrobny batted it down and away but only as far as Thompson who was ready to send home the rebound for 2-1.
A couple of hits then had differing consequences, as Towalski nailed Griffin by the blue line but shortly after Roehl was taken out in open ice and skating off gingerly holding his forearm.
Rounding effected a turnover and set off with Karpov down the ice. Rounding fed Karpov, Karpov sent it back but the chance went not completed.
Jamieson took a hooking penalty at 45.16 which put Bison on the powerplay. Davies sent a shot in from the blue line but Thompson couldn’t get the rebound, seconds later Jarabek provided the blue line blast but again nobody could get the rebound. Roehl returned to the ice following the earlier open ice hit and fed Davies at the hashmarks but his powerful shot was denied by Odrobny.
As Jamieson returned, the whistle blew and Long also returned from his earlier 10 minute misconduct. With the officials discussing a penalty which appeared to be about to be called Lightning took their time-out at 47.17. After the time out it seemed the penalty was forgotten and play re-started 5 on 5.
End to end action ended in a huge glove save from Hiadlovsky as Chamberlain rounded the Bison defence but despite being in a great position and with momentum he couldn’t get the game tying goal.
A couple of big hits were thrown, with Karpov taking a shove into the boards head first which was uncalled before an easy penalty call was made when Roehl was shoved into the boards. In the middle of the two it was Roehl who forced a save from Odrobny when he blasted from a pass from Long. After the save Roehl was in the corner battling for the puck when Emersic was called for boarding at 49.50.
The biggest chance on the powerplay came when Antonov found Jarabek who fed on to Jarolin but his shot was saved and the rebound came all the way out into the neutral zone.
Lightning returned to full strength but 34 seconds later were penalty killing again. A good hit from Balmer saw Bakrlik dumped to the ice but his reaction fell foul of the referee who gave a two minute cross checking minor at 52.04
Jarabek found Thompson, Thompson’s shot went past wide. Balmer sent a blast from the point which was saved and Lightning returned to full strength.
Emersic and Reynolds got caught up in a battle along the boards and the Bison man managed to catch the Lightning man high earning him a 2 + 10 check to the head penalty with 4.56 left to play.
Bakrlik had time and space but pressure from Hiadlovsky who’d advanced out the crease to narrow his angles. He shot wide and Balmer held him up behind the net while Hiadlovsky returned to his crease.
Lewis Hook made a coast to coast run, getting down behind the goal line and fed the puck out the blue line but before it could arrive the referee spotted the goal was off it’s moorings and blew down the play.
As Jarabek picked up a loose puck behind the Bison goal he flicked it around the boards to clear but it left the ice, earning him a delay of the game call. As the referee clarified the call with the off ice officials Pete Russell called the Lightning back to the bench and started a second apparent time-out. With everyone ready to start the referee skated over and hurried the visitors. Odrobny hurriedly made his way off the ice and Jordan Hedley took over in the net. With no time to warm up or stretch out he was thrown straight into the game.
The game entered it’s final two minutes and Holli worked his way in behind the net, flicking the puck out in front but nobody was there to take the pass.
Lightning had protected their backup goaltender well until Rene Jarolin broke away shorthanded at the blue line barrelling down on Hedley with a chance to score on his former team. He was so far ahead of anyone he even had a chance to look behind and check what was happening before lifting the puck high over the blocker for the Bison third goal at 59.33.
The final 27 seconds of the game passed by and the Bison closed out for their second win of the season over the Lightning.
Ice hockey is a game of three periods, this was a game of many compartments. Both teams enjoyed their dominant time, both teams found themselves digging deep to survive.
The difference was the finishing. Of late Bison have out shot their opponents comfortably but Lightning didn’t allow that to happen. So with only 5 shots separating the teams it was the finishing off the Bison that made the difference.
Ciaran Long’s opening goal was sweet! In off the bar is a skill that’s practiced but it’s hard to execute. It gives the netminder the least chance to save as it’s almost missing the net and it has to be perfect. If the puck is too high it either bounces straight back or over, if it’s too low it bounces down and out so it has to be right so it hits the ironwork and drops in.
The second goal was great team work. The Bison sent players to the net and good things happened. The first attempt was a good shot from Tomas Karpov which had Odrobny occupied and Shaun Thompson was there to finish the rebound well.
The third goal was nice to watch. Rene Jarolin had all the time in the world and it was clear to see what that goal meant to him. Even so he had to finish the chance and he finished it well. He picked his spot and hit the target.
It was a tough night for Jordan Hedley. He came on cold, but with absolutely no chance to even stretch. When the unofficial Lightning time out was ended by Roman Szucs Odrobny and Hedley swapped places, the puck dropped and the game was underway. It allowed Russell an extra outskating import but it also left the net weaker as the goalie wasn’t “in the zone”.
In the other net Hiadlovksy made some big saves. He played with confidence, not afraid to come out and meet shooters but sharp in the crease too.