The Basingstoke Bison played host to the Streatham Redhawks for the first time in the season. The home team were shortbenched with Grant Rounding, Dan Davies and Stuart Mogg missing but Roman Malinik made his debut while it was a return to the Basingstoke Arena for Ryan Watt in his first visit as a Redhawk.
Basingstoke Bison 5 Streatham Redhawks 2
Belfitt with Strain and Sytch-Cunningham took charge of the game and just after 6.30pm the first puck dropped with starting netminding duties going to Dean Skinns and Matt Colclough.
Bison got a few good early chances with Vanya Antonov feeding a puck across the crease only for nobody to connect and shortly after setting the puck off for Tomas Karpov but Colclough made the save.
Aidan Doughty coughed up the game’s first powerplay when he took an interference call at 3.06. Bison got some good pressure and chances but the perfect finish evaded them and Doughty returned. Soon after his return a careless turnover allowed Ryan Webb a solo chance but he fired wide of the target.
Bison sprung two 2 on 1s in quick succession as first Karpov and Antonov then Antonov and Baird went. The first ended wide and the second the Antonov feed was behind and out of the reach of Joe Baird.
Alex Sampford drew a glove save from Dean Skinns and some minor afters broke out as Ben Paynter got too close to Skinns for Kurt Reynolds liking who was quick to clear him away.
The opener wasn’t far from coming as at 9.26 the Bison broke deadlock. Tomas Karpov broke from from the boards and found Vanya Antonov in the slot who released quickly for 1-0.
Bison were back on the powerplay thanks to a Brendon Baird cross checking penalty at 9.44 and with 5 seconds left in their man advantage, having dominated the powerplay, Ashley Jackson finished tipping the puck home from Reynolds and Antonov for 2-0.
Aaron Connolly was sent on a run by Tomas Karpov and after outmuscling the Streatham defence a blocker save from Colclough ended the run. Chances then came at both ends before 16.04 when Bison made it 3-0. Vanya Antonov sent the puck back to the blue line, Joe Baird shot and Tomas Karpov tipped home for the third Bison goal of the night.
Ryan Watt met Dan Scott who lost his stick in stopping the Redhawks #49 shooting and ended up clearing with his hand. Redhawks got their first powerplay at 17.49 when Joe Baird stopped Aidan Doughty at the blue line and got called for interference for his trouble.
Redhawks looked to be making progress with the man advantage when they worked the puck back to Michael Farn to shoot but the momentum they generated was halted when Roman Malinik took the puck, skated in almost effortlessly and shot through the 5 hole to complete a shorthanded goal at 18.59
It was 4 on 4 at 19.20 when Adam Wood took a hooking penalty as he held back Tomas Karpov. Bison ended the first period, which they’d dominated, 4-0 ahead and with 1.20 to play on the powerplay on the 2nd period.
Alex Sampford got the first chance of the second period shorthanded before Wood returned. Joe Baird sent the puck in looking for a tip in but despite a stick in front getting the tip in Matt Colclough made the save. Roman Malinik won the ensuing face off back to Aaron Connolly who stepped and shot but just a bit high.
Jamie Hayes put Bison back on the powerplay when he tripped Roman Malinik at 23.05. Vanya Antonov rung the iron work before Redhawks cleared. Tomas Karpov made an end to end solo run but his wrap around just didn’t quite have enough on it. Eventually the visiting team got some relief when the whistle blew after an Antonov shot struck the goaltender in the mask.
Bison gifted Redhawks an opportunity as they looked to transition out their own zone. An open ice outlet pass ended up intercepted by Michael Farn who fed Ben Paynter who beat Dean Skinns for a shorthanded goal and 4-1 at 24.47.
Interaction behind the play between Brendon Baird and Tomas Karpov went unpunished but at 26.39 a slash from Roman Malinik on Joe Allen as he past the Bison man saw the referee hold his arms aloft signalling a penalty shot. Allen approached calmy from the right before scoring 5 hole for 4-2.
Tomas Karpov fed Hallam Wilson who couldn’t get the puck over the line and moments later Ashley Jackson fed Tomas Karpov but the Czech man couldn’t double his personal tally in his 200th league game. A tripping penalty on Jordan Gregory came as he took down Ashley Jackson at 32.15.
Bison converted the powerplay after 1.45, the perfect finish to a near perfect powerplay. After taking time to set up their play Joe Baird slotted across to Aaron Connolly in the slot and he fired the puck home for 5-2 at 34.00.
Following a spell of good pressure, mainly by Michael Farn the visitors put themselves on the backfoot when Christopher Cook got a holding minor and Brandon Miles’ objections earned him a 10 minute misconduct at 35.35.
Back at full strength a battle occurred in the corner at the Redskin’s net end which saw Josh Smith catch Michael Farn with an elbow and Ryan Watt came streaming in. The penalties ended up coincidental so the game carried on 5 on 5 up to the buzzer ending a more even period than the first that Streatham had won 1-2.
The third period started open. Roman Malinik fed Aaron Connolly before Alex Samford shot through traffic but Dean Skinns saw his shot all the way. At the other end Roman Malinik made his own space but couldn’t beat Colclough.
End to end continued after Adam Carr seized on an Antonov turn over and was denied by Skinns Tomas Karpov went on a solo run but just still couldn’t bag his second. Bison then broke away quickly from a scramble in front of their own net but Ashley Jackson was denied by Colclough. The Redhawks netminder then stopped Karpov after Antonov centred for him and also made the save on Sam Brooks follow up effort.
Brandon Baird sat out at 49.14, called for holding. Things got doubly worse for the Redhawks when Jordan Gregory got a match penalty for slew footing at 51.21. The visitors did kill off the penalties but understandably found themselves on the back foot for the majority of the last 9 minutes of the game. They did string together a couple of chances just ahead of the final buzzer but by then Bison had done enough to run out 5-2 winners.
So it’s another win in the league for the Bison. They played shortbenched with Mogg and Davies still out and Rounding joining the injured list. Skinns returned to the net having had the night off the previous game in Invicta.
For some reason Streatham barely played the first period. They played like rabbits stuck in head lights and it showed as Bison coasted to a 4-0 lead. They have ex EPL talent in the line up in Adam Carr, Ryan Watt, Michael Farn etc but they were just not in the game for the first period.
I don’t know if it was being 4-0 down and effectively out of the game if they’d carried on playing the way they had in the first period that spurred them on but they played the second period and third period totally different to the first. They competed well for the final forty minutes and it’s fair to mention that despite having lost the first 20 4-0 they won the second 40 1-2.
Had they come out and played from the drop of the puck then the game had the potential to have been quite different.
The one thing that’s stood out so far to me this season is that the NIHL teams that were original teams haven’t worked out how to play the officials yet. The pool of ex EPL officials are mainly now covering the new second tier, NIHL1. The standard of hockey will have to raise if the original NIHL teams want to compete on a level playing field with the ex EPL teams. One area that’s stood out to me is the way the teams aren’t handling the referees. Now that NIHL1 is the second tier of hockey the officials are going to call the game to a higher standard and these NIHL teams are falling foul of the standard of expectation.
It’s not any one particular official. We’ve seen many officials this year and I’ve noticed quite often that the original NIHL teams are being called for blatant penalties that perhaps, in years gone by, they’d have got away with.
Tomas Karpov played his 200th league game for the Bison. They got what they knew they’d get from one of the league’s stand out import players. He played at 100%, as a play maker and offensive threat. As usual he gives at both ends of the ice too and fittingly he scored the game winning goal too. Off the ice “Karps” is a humble man, ask him about his performance and he’ll tell you how well the team played. He does his talking day in day out on the ice and always gives 100%.
The second of the Bison imports was on debut. Roman Malinik landed in the UK on Thursday and netted his first goal for the Herd. It was a well taken short handed goal and as well as the goal he generated a lot of offensive play too. Consider that he’s only playing his first game after only joining up with the team two days before and there’s obviously a lot more to come from him.
The Bison will hopefully be welcoming back Stuart Mogg next weekend which will relieve the pressure on the rest of the defence. The absence of Grant Rounding changed up the Karpov / Antonov / AN Other line. It may well be that his absence could allow Ashley Jackson to become the third of that trio. He’s looked good clicking with them on the powerplay so maybe he could seize upon Rounding’s absence and make that spot his own.
There’s no doubting a Karpov, Antonov, Davies line could easily be the best in the NIHL. His absence for the Bison is huge, he’s one of the best Brits in the league. Bison are finding a way without him right now, imagine how good they’ll be with him back in the line up.