Following a home and away weekend success over the Sheffield Steeldogs the Bison were back on home ice to entertain the Hull Pirates. Tim Pickett was in charge for the game with Jason Earl and Donald Campbell on the lines.
Basingstoke Bison 3 Hull Pirates 1
There were early chances for the home team, Ciaran Long getting the first chance then Declan Balmer sending in a blast from the blue line, Jordan Marr just closing the five hole in time to stop the shot. Balmer had another shot from the point but somebody got a stick on that one and deflected it into the corner. Antonov shot next but Towalski, on the door step, couldn’t get enough of the puck before Marr covered over.
Jason Hewitt broke free solo and raced down the ice but his run ended in the corner when he was muscled off the puck. Soon after it was powerplay time for the Bison as MacCauley Haywood picked up a 2 minute roughing penalty, shoving Antonov over behind the goal.
Ciaran Long sent in a shot from the point on the powerplay which Marr saved and the rebound bounced safely away. With Bison back in charge of the puck a centring pass from the corner was missed by everyone and the puck sailed into the neutral zone.
Shaun Thompson was parked in front of the net waiting for a rebound, the rebound came but Marr also made the second save. Thompson held his position at the top of the crease and was soon fed the puck but again Marr denied him and soon after the Pirates were back to five skaters.
To date Bison had done the attacking and Pirates the defending with Marr putting in an outstanding performance in between the pipes. A huge Balmer blast from the blue line found Alan Lack on the tip in but it was Pirates 33 who kept it 0-0 still. Roehl and Antonov both were robbed by the Pirates goaltender and with 9.50 left in the opening period Hiadlovsky made his first pressure save of the game.
Nathan Salem raced down the wing for the Pirates and fed the puck in front of Hiadlovsky but nobody had kept pace with Salem and the puck fell to the Bison. Their quick transition game was stopped as they looked to cross the attacking blue line.
Antonov sped into the slot unchallenged and tried a backhand release but Marr saved the shot. Ciaran Long then sent in a screamer but it was high, he followed up with a lob which was an easy glove save. Straight off the face-off the whistle blew again as the Pirates goal came lose.
With 13.30 played Pirates managed to gain the zone and work some plays for the first time in the game. Hiadlovsky was sharp and denied a couple of good Pirates chances before the Bison broke back down the ice.
Reynolds entered the zone having carried the puck the length of the ice but his speculative float Marr covered to bring about a face-off. With Bison winning and controlling the face-off Dan Davies sent in a slap shot from the high slot but a pad save dealt with that.
Davies and Antonov combined behind the net, passing the puck to each other and drawing Marr to one side but the pass back in front found nobody there to finish into the open net. Pressure continued as Grant Rounding sent the puck from the corner to the blue line where Joe Baird tee’d up and let rip. Tomas Karpov picked up the puck in the neutral zone and danced round the Pirates defence, heading behind the goal and attempted a back handed wrap around but Marr got down low to guide it across the net and wide and the first period ended scoreless.
The second period started briskly again for the Bison, with Mogg going coast to coast before looking to find Derek Roehl but the pass just missed his target. Bison then believed they’d scored at 21.51 with the puck in the net and the goal light on. It was another deflection that saw the puck in to the net but immediately Tim Pickett signalled the puck had been played with a high stick and no goal.
Bison continued to look good, Antonov passed to Davies who found Long. Long blasted in and Antonov got to the rebound but Marr pounced and covered it quickly. Straight from the face off the puck was back at Marr who made a sprawling save.
Pirates managed a rare 2 on 1 chance as they sped down the ice but a cool and calm Hiadlovsky denied the effort and the puck was quickly back on Bison sticks. As the 27 minute mark approached Bison looked in total control as they cycled the puck round the Pirates zone almost like a powerplay but at even strength however that elusive goal proved to be just as elusive as Pirates were keeping their net empty.
Pirates then were then back at Bison and Hiadlovksy advanced forward to make the first save but was back quickly to clear the second attempt to. Andrej Themar had all the time in the world to line up his attempt a minute shy of half way but he fired wide.
As Bison found themselves under pressure for the first real time in the game Alan Lack picked up a hooking penalty at 29.30 giving the Pirates their first powerplay of the night.
Rene Jarolin and Dan Davies set off on a shorthanded run, Jarolin carrying the puck along the wing as Davies advanced on the net but Marr kept the chance untaken. Pirates then looked to capitalise on their man advantage but a couple of sharp glove saves from Hiadlovsky kept it 0-0 as Lack returned for the Bison.
Ciaran Long then danced round everyone on his way to the net but Marr made another save ahead of the game’s opening goal.
At 32.33 Bison would have rightly felt disappointed to fall behind when Bonner and Hewitt worked the puck around for Themar to finish, beating Hiadlovsky and giving the visitors a 0-1 lead.
Just over a minute later Bison equalised as the momentum swung right back. It was the Captain who was well placed to get a tip in finally beating Marr at 33.42.
A moment of drama followed as Hiadlovsky raced to the corner to play the puck but ended up robbed of the puck and without his stick. The defence raced in to help their goaltender as Hiadlovsky returned to the net stickless. The goaltender was left some time before being able to go and reclaim his stick but the Pirates failed to capitalise.
Since the two goals there had been chances at both ends in a fast paced period. Pirates had a face off in the zone but their blue line blast was off the netting. Hidalovsky then advanced out the crease to face the next shot and make the save and Karpov swooped in to clear away the rebound.
With 1.10 left in the period Bison got the lead they’d deserved all night long. The Herd moved quickly into the zone, moved the puck side to side across the zone before finding Derek Roehl who’s wrist shot was just too good for Marr, beating him high glove side, and Bison led 2-1 at 38.50.
Bison kept the pressure on in the third period and started well again. Towalski had a chance in front picking up a centring pass but Marr had it covered. Antonov was next to get a feed in front but again he couldn’t get it home. Jan Jarabek then sent a screamer in which hit the side netting and as he raced in for the rebound Marr made the save on the second chance as it was on target.
Davies gained the zone and shot high but the rebound off the back glass fell safe and soon after play stopped when a Hull defenceman took out his own goaltender and both bundled into the net moving it from its moorings.
Jarolin had the puck deep in the Pirates zone and fed it back to Baird waiting at the blue line, Baird’s shot had interference on the way and ended up in the corner. Jarolin got the puck back and tried a wrap around but Marr saved again.
Bison thought they had added their third with 10 minutes remaining but it was a tight call with the whistle. The crowd celebrated the goal while the officials discussed the goal. Players moved in to overhear the discussion but a swift end to the discussion saw the referee wash out the goal as it was scored after the whistle.
The third goal wasn’t far away though as Tomas Karpov lined up for a face-off, won the draw back to Balmer who released his shot quickly and too quickly for the Pirates netminder making it 3-1 at 50.48.
Pirates looked to fight back and Nathan Salem found himself wrong footed in front of the Bison net, he wheeled around and let go of a shot but Hiadlovksy made the save. Antonov then tested Marr at the other end straight after.
With 4.31 left to play Hiadlovksy made a sharp blocker save and dropped to the ice to cover the lose puck quickly. Face-off was in the Bison defensive zone and the Pirates changed their lines quickly as they desire to fight back into the game grew knowing time was running out.
Luck favoured the Pirates as a nice pass was slotted in front of their net but just out of the reach of Antonov skating in. Then Pirates got the chance they were looking for with 2.25 left to play when Roehl took a 2 minute tripping penalty. As the Bison player took his set in the penalty box the Pirates bench called their time out.
It didn’t take a minute for the Pirates time out tactics to show as with 1.33 left to play Jordan Marr headed to the bench allowing an extra outskater for the Pirates and in effect a 6 on 4 advantage. Long advanced to the end of his defensive zone before letting lose a shot on the empty net which didn’t miss by much, and with the Bison penalty killing also avoided the icing call too.
Derek Roehl returned for the final 25 seconds and the Bison won their third successive game.
For the second weekend in a row a netminder stood on their head against the Bison. Last Saturday it was Hadfield and this Saturday it was Marr. Bison tested him right from the off and he kept the sheet clean until well into the second period. He saved long shots, he saved close shots and he saved tips and deflections as well.
Last season’s Pirates were a different test to this seasons. Last year they were the cheeky underdogs, never favourites to win against the top teams but likely to sneak the odd win over them. This summer they’ve had a lot more time to build a team and it shows. They started well in net last year with Baston but replaced him with Raitums. The latter was never the same as the former and so this season they’ve got with a Brit allowing an extra outskating import. Based on last night’s showing Marr hasn’t let them down in the trust they’ve shown in him.
Since the changes the Bison made it’s been a turn around. I spoke briefly with Doug Sheppard after the game and he told me he was pleased with the game. He felt it had been the best all round performance the team had given so far this season. It’s hard to argue against that. Bison were good in attack and defence and Hiadlovksy answered the call not only on 21 of the 22 shots he faced but also in getting out and stopping other chances from becoming shots.
Hiadlovsky is what I would call a proactive goaltender. He doesn’t just react to things, he’s not afraid to challenge shooters before they’re ready to release. He’s not crease bound and is a good puck handler. At the start of last season, following from Dean Skinns, this caused some early confusion while the team got used to his style of play but now they all know each other it’s a well gelled relationship now. Hiadlovsky knows his role as do the team and vice versa the team now know what he’ll play and what they’ll play. It works well.
After last weekend’s game I focussed on Jan Jarabek but this weekend I want to take a quick look at Derek Roehl. He is without doubt a fine player, his career stats to date testify to that but he’s more than the numbers. He’ll score, and last night’s goal was a beauty, he’ll assist but as well as that he’s a showman. He’s a natural leader, he comes across a confident man and he not only does his job but he does it in an entertaining way. He was involved in a nasty collision last night that saw him flip over and land awkwardly but he returned to the ice and continued to play. His goal last night was brilliant, he picked the pass up, wasn’t on the puck long but saw the space he wanted, moved and released quickly with a precision perfect wrist shot that was high over the glove.
The team are coming on well now. After a tricky start the Bison are gelling and are getting points back on the board.
Elsewhere arguably last night two results went against predictions. Guildford Flames went down on their home ice 3-4 to Bracknell Bees while Swindon Wildcats got one over on the Peterborough Phantoms.
I think it’s fair to say it’ll be a huge shot if any team wrestles Bracknell and Manchester out from the fight for 9th and 10th places this season but it’s good to see one of the teams with the lesser expectations taking down one of the bigger teams.