After a loss follows analysis of what went wrong and how to correct it. Last weekend we suffered two losses, at home to Basingstoke and Guildford away. Both had the same results but they were different losses. Saturday we short-changed ourselves against the Bison and got punished while on Sunday we found our intensity back but just fell foul of penalties leading to few opportunities to generate offence before tiredness of playing long periods of the game shorthanded kicked in.
After a week of analysis and practice it’s then all about how you bounce back and there’s no better opponent to have that bounce back opportunity against than your nearest geographic rival. The Bracknell Bees arrived at the Hangar with the exact opposite record of the Jets previous weekend having secured four points. For the opponents it had been their happiest weekend since January 2010 when they last accomplished that feat so understandably they’d have been confident going into the game.
Before the game Richard Brown and I always exchange pre-game predictions. Usually at least one of us is close, last weekend neither of us were but my prediction for the Bees game was a 7-2 Jets win. There’s been a lot of talk about the Bees outfit this season, how they have majorly improved over the summer and there was even pre-season talk about them being contenders.
From my point of view losing Pinc and Cesky gave the Bees a great opportunity to improve which they have done. No word of bias but the addition of Michael Bowman, Shaun Thompson and Andy Munroe added greatly to the Bees, not only upgrading their playing roster but adding to the team the mentality of three good British players who knew how to win. Make no mistake, the Bees team is a massive upgrade on the teams that have represented the far side of Berkshire for a while now but I think the hype of contender was possibly a little too kind.
So onto the game itself and there are two lasting impressions in my mind. The first is the hope that Aaron Connolly’s injury isn’t as bad as it seemed it could be on the night and the second is the nature of the destruction in the win. No messing, clinic finishing and a 7-2 win in the records for two points.
Just 50 seconds into the third period Aaron Connolly suffered a nasty collision with the boards just inside the Bees defensive zone which saw him take no further part in the game. It took a long time to get him back up again and he left the ice with the help of the team medic and team colleagues unable to put his right skate back on the ice. Not just for a Jets point of view but given that Aaron has been selected for the GB Under 20s who play in Sheffield on Thursday I hope his injury isn’t serious and he can still take the place he has rightfully earned on the GB Under 20s team for not only the challenge matches here but also the proper tournament.
The game was pretty much over as a competitive contest at the end of the first period with Slough securing a 3-0 opening period. They worked hard, out hussled, out passed and out defended their opponents for the opening part of the game without reward but at 9.58 Doug Sheppard led from the front with the game’s opening goal. Adam Calder had made it 2-0 under a minute later and Darius Pliskauskas had made it 3-0 at 16.30 crushing any expectation the Bees may have carried into the game from their four point weekend last weekend.
After having succeeded in dominating the first period the interval was key for the Jets as although they had crushed the hopes of the visitors the game wasn’t over yet and 40 minutes is a long time to come back into the game for the Bees.
As it turned out Bracknell scored the first goal of the second period making it 3-1 but before they bagged their second goal of the night Jets had made it 5-1 through Joe Greener and Darius Pliskauskas again. The Bees short hopes of a comeback had been dashed so that even Smital’s second at 34.33 still left a 3 goal margin to overcome but Dan Davies hammered home the advantage at 38.59 with a shorthanded goal giving the game a convincing 6-2 score after 40 minutes.
Carl Ambler was replaced between the pipes at the start of the third period by Tom Annetts for the Bees and he dealt well with all but one of the shots he faced meaning after two three goal periods the third period only conceded 1 goal, the hat-trick goal from Darius Pliskauskas.
After disappointingly failed to gain a point the weekend before and in the process conceding the top spot in the league the Jets turned out in full force against the Bees. Had they played that game last Saturday and last Sunday would have seen four a point weekend but bodes well for the future. I think, from the highlights I’ve seen of last Sunday’s game in Guildford that the Jets were already in process of bouncing back from the disappointment of defeat against the Bison but yesterday enjoyed the different officiating style and despite the best efforts of the Bees to niggle the Jets into penalties kept their discipline well and executed the game plan perfectly.
Doug’s said on numerous occasions that the plan is to play good team defence and restrict the opponents to two goals and with our forwards that should be enough to complete the win. Last night we did more than complete the win and sent a message that we’re back in business following a tough off weekend.
Tonight the Jets will take on the Manchester Phoenix on the road and that’ll be another tough game. The Phoenix are down on luck and injuries have ravaged their team of recent. They’ll be desperate for a win but the Jets will be equally desperate to make up for last weekend so the fans at the Phoenix game tonight should be in for a great game.