Slough Jets vs Bracknell Bees 22/02/12

Normally when a fixture is rescheduled for unavoidable reasons the rescheduled fixture passes off without incident. It’s obviously not ideal having to reschedule a weekend game to a midweek date but that was what happened when the Jets vs Bees fixture couldn’t be played on the original date.

Thanks to Southern Electric’s random power outages the rink was three times plunged into darkness, twice during the game and once during the first interval. The rink lighting is such that when it gets turned off (either intentionally or in this case unintentionally) it has to be left off for a period of time before it can be turned back on. In most cases this works fine but it was a delaying effect on Wednesday night!

With 1.25 left in the first period the first of the night’s outages tripped the lights and with a 5 minute wait before turning the lights back on plus the warm up time of them it was decided to take the first interval. The same thing happened again at the end of the 1st interval and again with 3.54 left to play in the third period but at least the game got finished against the odds apparently.

Bracknell started the game well and James Galazzi snuck them ahead at 5.41. Jets battled hard to get back in the game, killing a couple of penalties and James Galazzi’s tough guy attempts against Mindy Kieras saw both players serve double roughing minors but when both players returned to the ice it didn’t take long for Mindy to make his mark on the game. The face-off immediately following Kieras’ return the draw was won, the puck was got to Kieras and his blue line boomer left Annetts just to hand the puck back after the goal! 1-1 towards the end of the first period and then soon after the lights drop out so we take the first interval.

After the 12 minutes the first period resumed. Slough looked to have stepped up a gear in the break as the rattled the framework of the goal in the final 1.25 of the first period before swapping ends and starting the second period.

Despite some good chances for Bracknell it was the Jets who completed a 2-0 period in the middle of the game to put the game beyond reach of their visitors. Dan Davies scored the game winning goal before Mindy added his second of the night and the Jets showed how the game should be played at both ends of the ice.

For Gareth Cox’s men it was imperative that they got off to a good start in the third period to pull back into the game but instead of getting a good start the defence failed to support their netminder and Doug Sheppard netted a rebound goal uncontested in front of Annetts. Sullivan’s shot from the blue line was saved comfortably but the Bees defence failed to help their netminder allowing Sheppard to pick his spot and shoot home.

The Jets 5th was a similar scenario as Joe Greener was allowed to pick up a lose puck in front of the net and carry it around before shooting on the blocker side of Annetts.

With the game at 3-1 at 40.00 it was feasible that the Bees could have pulled back in and in that respect unforgivable to defend so poorly. The netminder is the last line of defence in any team, but should never be the only line and the defence team, and indeed forwards should all play their game thinking of defending. It doesn’t matter if you score 8 goals if you’re defending is so bad that you’ll concede 9 you’ll never get any points. Annetts should have been properly supported; he should have defenceman prepared to help clear any rebounds that are given.

From that point on Jets cruised to a 5-1 win which was interrupted by the third power outage of the night with 3.54 left to play. The lights went down meaning another delay while they were left off and then warmed up, the disco lights were used to illuminate the rink in the mean time. After consulting with both benches referee Nigel Boniface asked for the clock to be run down but then a request came back from the Bees bench to re-tract that and the final 3.54 was eventually played when the lights had reached an acceptable minimum brightness.

As it turned out the game could easily have stopped at 3.54 as the Bees lacked sting in the final 234 seconds just as the had the entire 3rd period. The Jets, despite dropping behind early, were more than good for their two points.

As an aside it’s often said that there’s a shortage of good officials in UK hockey. There are some very good officials and some who’s officiating has often left me bemused but I’m not naming any in either camp here.

It seems the one advantage to having a midweek game is that you get allocated three referee standard officials for the game. Nigel Boniface took charge of the match and had Stef Hogarth and Tim Pickett with him on the lines. Boniface is an experienced referee who calls a good game and to have two further referee trained officials on the lines is an added bonus.

Tim Pickett we have seen officiate up front at Slough a couple of times this season, he’s a first year EPL official who does most of his work in the ENL league but his handling of games in the senior league shows he has a good future ahead of him in refereeing. Stef Hogarth is another official who has refereed at EPL level but who is regularly assigned linesmen’s allocations despite his ability to go up front.

As I’ve said there are some excellent officials available in the EPL and with 10 teams that means 5 are needed every day. If rumours are to be believed then more teams are looking to join the EPL which means more will be needed every day. With officials like Hogarth and Pickett both ready to step up and referee it looks good for well referee’d game in this league.