As November rolled on it was finally time for the first Basingstoke hosted M3 derby of the season. The teams had already met at the Hive and against the run of form the Bees took the win on that occasion but this time it was in Basingstoke where the Herd are, as yet, still undefeated this season.
An impeccably observed minute’s silence was observed to honour those who lost their lives in the Paris Terror attacks ahead of the playing of the French National Anthem. With then anthems played it was time for business and referee Dan Boardman called the players to centre ice.
It was Frankie Bakrlik who had the first chance of the game but from then on Basingstoke dominated. Tom Annetts, starting in the Bees net, denied Ciaran Long who put the finishing touch to a great move by Joe Greener. Shaun Thompson and Joe Rand combined to feed Aaron Connolly who was also denied by Annetts.
At 2.19 Alan Lack did open the scoring. A shot from Kurt Reynolds was saved by Annetts but with bodies at the net Ryan Watt managed to feed the rebound to Alan Lack who beat the netminder for the opening goal.
At 4.06 the comedy moment of the game came when Scott Spearing levelled the scoring. Tomas Hiadlovsky saw a loose puck just out of his reach and advanced to play it but with no clean contact made the puck was left for Spearing to have the simplest of finishes for the equalising goal.
After the success of moving bodies to the net earlier for the Bison they continued to be aggressive in this tactic but a rebound from a pad save from Annetts fell agonisingly wide of the any of the close in Bison players.
As Rand, Thompson and Connolly tired the Bees it fell to the following line to do the damage as Vantroba set Karpov off on a fantastic solo play. The Czech then rounded two Bees before sending the puck into the back of the net via the five hole for 2-1 at 10.15.
Bison got the first powerplay of the game at 12.44 as Lewis Turner caught Alan Lack with a trailing leg earning him a clipping minor penalty. The powerplay was clinical and the goal seemed almost an eventuality when it came at 13.35. Shaun Thompson picked up Joe Rand’s pass and forced the puck home from a near impossible angle.
Frankie Bakrlik was soon aggravating the Bison finishing a hit on Tomas Karpov after the whistle that could probably have been avoided. It wouldn’t be the first time in the night that Bakrlik was continue something after the whistle, the latter event would have bigger consequences.
With Bakrlik picking up an elbows penalty on the very next play it was another Bison powerplay and another Bison goal. At 17.14 Ryan Watt made it 4-1 when he proved you should always play to the whistle. An Annetts save left the Bees expecting a whistle but with the puck just lose Ryan Watt pounced to complete the goal.
The first period then ended with a 2 minute hooking minor on Joe Baird giving the Bees their first powerplay of the game to start period two.
After an exhibition by the Basingstoke Under 13s to start the interval the resurface followed as usual and then it was back to action for period two.
The Bees started the period with a 2 minute man advantage but failed to make any real impact with it and at 22.00 it was back to 5 on 5.
Tomas Karpov and Miroslav Vantroba combined to try for 5-1 but Annetts was up to the challenge, the same thing happened soon after to end some good solo work from Joe Greener then a quick transition saw Vanya Antonov race down the ice only to fire his shot safely over the net.
4.54 into the second period it was 5-1 when Ciaran Long scored. Originally credited to Alan Lack it was Long who shovelled home the rebound to see Annetts beaten for the fifth time on the night.
Just 40 seconds later the whistle blew again, this time to send Alan Lack away for an interference call which gave the Bees their second powerplay of the night. Frankie Bakrlik tried hard to make things happen but eventually ran within stick distance of Kurt Reynolds and the Bison defenseman dispossessed him with a poke check.
With another Bees powerplay going unused back at full strength it was soon 6-1 and the end of Tom Annett’s night. Reynolds and Baird combined to set up Aaron Connolly who celebrated his goal on the ice as he fell over while shooting but still had enough on the puck to see Annetts retrieve it from the back of the net.
The sixth goal was obviously the sign for Alex Mettam to warm up as 19 seconds later, at the next stoppage, the goal swap took place.
Some quality passing from the Bison saw Ciaran Long offered a chance; his shot went high but it was soon another Bison powerplay as Lewis Turner was called for kneeing at 31.43.
Frankie Bakrlik had a shorthanded attempted but Tomas Karpov levelled the Bees star player before Ciaran Long wore a shot from Miroslav Vantroba. Bakrlik eventually found Lukas Smital but the Bees player/coach was denied by the iron work.
Smital was again denied soon after, this time by the Hiadlovsky poke check as his race down the ice met, from his opinion, a premature end.
With 35 seconds left in the middle period Joe Rand was given a slashing minor which would see the Bees start the third period on the powerplay.
Running rink repairs made the teams wait to start the third period but when it did get underway it was more of the same. Bees had a couple of good powerplay chances but failed to convert, then in quick succession it was goals 7 and 8 for the home team.
Goal 7 came about after Tomas Karpov’s shot beat Mettam but was denied by the pipe work but Lack saw Mettam out of position and completed the goal at 43.04. Just 28 seconds later it was 8-1 and Joe Greener fed Ryan Sutton and then completed the youngster’s rebound.
With a 7 goal lead and 16.28 left to play Dan Weller-Evans replaced Tomas Hiadlovsky in the Bison net. The young Bison back up made a couple of good early saves which would have settled his nerves but attention was quickly focused back at the Bees net as first Joe Rand shot just wide before Aaron Connolly’s shot was stopped by Mettam.
Scott Spearing and Frankie Bakrlik tested Weller-Evans in quick succession, the former ending in a glove save and the latter a kick save. Ryan Watt was then set free but lost footing once inside the zone, he still managed to keep the puck under control and did get a shot off but at reduced power it was an easy save for Mettam.
Joe Greener picked up a slashing penalty with 10.04 left to play and finally the Bees powerplay unit did some damage. It was Jan Bendik with a shot from the point that beat Weller-Evans for 8-2 at 50.13 but it would be a rare highlight of the night for the visitors.
Next came the lowlight of the game. Bakrlik took the zone at speed only to find himself whistled down for off-side. Whether frustrated or not Bakrlik heard the whistle and still let lose his shot at the backup goalie. This angered Joe Greener who steamed in on Bakrlik and the two ended up tangled before heading to the box to serve their penalties. Words must also have been exchanged between David Savage and Ryan Watt as an angered Watt looked to take on the face-caged Savage but the Bee turtled rapidly leaving Watt with 2+2 for roughing and a 10 minute incitement penalty. Greener and Bakrlik both got double roughing penalties with Bakrlik picking up an additional 10 and Savage got 2 for roughing.
With the physicalities done the goal scoring recommenced as the Bison closed out the game. Goal 9 came at 56.42 Shaun Thompson waited for a falling puck before slotting it home and just 38 seconds later Alan Lack completed his hat-trick with another puck in the Bees goal. It provoked rage from Lewis Turner who threw his stick and picked up a 10 minute misconduct.
The Bison crowd who had been perfectly silent ahead of the game loudly clapped and cheered their team to victory as the final 2.40 of the game ticked down.
From the off Bison always looked a step ahead of the Bees. Despite Grant Rounding still not icing and Alex Symonds missing through injury they were rarely challenged. It’s rare huge score lines happen in Bison games but it was hard to see how not to run up a big score line.
Bracknell have had their share of trouble this year with games being played away from home and training sessions missed but last night there were visible problems. Netminding wasn’t solid from either keeper, the defence wasn’t protecting either keeper particularly well and up front other than Bakrlik or Antonov there wasn’t much threat.
Speaking of Bakrlik it’s obvious to see his frustration. He’s a different man than the one who played for Phoenix last year. He appeared visibly frustrated last night, late hits and the late shot on Dan Weller-Evans as well as his general demeanour. Frankie Bakrlik is the best forward in the league. He has size and skill and one of the challenges when he first signed for Slough was finding players that were good enough to line with him. Once he was settled with Ciaran Long and Thomas Valecko the Slough Jets saw the best of him. At Bracknell it’s hard to see who he could line with that would bring out the best in him.
For Basingstoke it was a good night. Tomas Hiadlovsky did make an error which led to Spearing’s goal but other than that the simple things were done well and the difficult things done with ease. Dan Weller-Evans got some valuable ice time in net and made some good saves. To think there’s Alex Symonds to return to the line up and Grant Rounding still working towards making his 14/15 debut and things look good.