We know the Slough Jets are capable of being excellent and we also know the Slough Jets are capable of being average. It’s something that affects every great team and it’s why sport is the spectator attraction it is. The margins between excellent and average aren’t huge, they can be tiny, no sportsman sets out to go out and perform averagely but with such tiny margins sometimes it happens.
In ice hockey all it takes to swing momentum and a result is one or two bad shifts and that’s what happened on Saturday. Absolutely no complaints at all about the officiating, Dave Cloutman is the best and most respected referee in the EPL, he allowed the game to flow and called fair, essential penalties.
The first twenty minutes saw the two teams battle away hard to achieve a fair 2-2 split. Both teams could have scored more in the opening period, the chances were there but a combination of good netminding and chances not fully capitalised on meant 2-2 was the score at the first interval.
The second period is where the game was won and lost. In the course of 5 minutes or so the Bison capitalised on their opportunities to make it 2-4 and open a gap. Doug Sheppard called the Jets time-out looking to stabilise the game. In less than two minutes Nicky Chinn and Daniel Volrab had put the Bison in a position of dominance.
From 2-4 down against another top team in the league is a big ask to come back. In any sport once you drop behind there is a risk factor in pulling back into the game. In ice hockey it means that you have to focus more on offence than defence, your forwards need to play less two way and more attacking to increase chances and your defenceman have to come up to try and help out the forwards keeping lose pucks in the opponent’s defensive zone.
What happened next saw the Jets drop further behind as Nicky Chinn scored his second of three on the night, taking advantage of the Jets necessity to pull back into the game and before the half way point in the game it was 2-5.
Gregg Rockman faced 25 shots on goal in the middle period, showing the force with which the Bison attacked which Colclough faced just 8 at the other end, showing the pressure the Bison kept on the Jets.
The third period saw the Jets again try to pull back into the game but a powerplay goal 5.22 in from Bronniman saw the Bison open the gap to four goals. With such a huge gap defence becomes very much a secondary concern as conceding no further goals won’t gain a win, only scoring can improves the chances of winning at this point and Nicky Chinn capitalised with his hat-trick goal at 47.58.
Adam Calder pulled back a goal for the Jets at 58.18 adding some closeness to the score but the Bison were deserving of their way.
It’s still early in the season, there’s still learning being done and there will be defeats. No-one is going to be happy at a 3-7 defeat on home ice but there’s time to bounce back from this weekend and move forward. On the night the Bison were the sharper team, they pounced on the chances they had and got their opponents down at the first available opportunity and then didn’t back off. The Jets got into a similar position against the Bison at their place but managed to complete a great comeback then to claim the points but this time the Bison sealed the win. The ups and downs of the EPL continue.
Everyone knows there’s no easy games in the EPL this season and the weekend just gone continues to prove that.