The Sherfield School Basingstoke Bison lined up on home ice for their second tough game of the weekend as they took on the Telford Tigers.
Stuart Mogg and Vanya Antonov were still away with GB Universities, Aaron Connolly had made his return to the line up the previous night and Joe Miller’s recovery gathers pace as he warmed up but didn’t ice in the game.
Basingstoke Bison 2 Telford Tigers 4
Boardman, Lalonde and Lack were the team in charge of the game and it turned out that both the back up goaltenders had lead out the teams as the starts went to Tomas Hiadlovsky and Jon Baston.
Chances came at both ends early on, Jason Silverthorn flicking over from a neat angle and a Ciaran Long shot heading straight to Baston. The first powerplay of the game went to the Bison at 3.38 with Adam Jones sitting out a holding penalty.
At 4.19 the goal light lit behind the Tigers net. Bison took the zone on the powerplay and crisp passing from Tomas Karpov to Ciaran Long allowed Long to shoot in where Aaron Connolly got a tip past Baston for the opening goal.
Tigers looked to break back straight away but a sharp save from Tomas Hiadlosky kept the Bison their lead. Soon after Derek Roehl was at the far end of the ice and under pressure kept the puck but his shot was wide. There was a tense moment when Tomas Hiadlovksy took a Tigers shot straight in the face mask. Play stopped instantly and Hiadlovksy stayed down. After treatment from the Bison medic Hiadlovsky was up and the game resumed.
Tigers worked the puck deep into the Bison zone before slotting a pass back to Warren Tait at the blue line but his shot was saved. With play back underway Grant Rounding seized on a loose puck and set up a two on two. It was Rounding who took the shot but Baston was well placed for it.
Doug Clarkson was calling for a penalty when he drew Tomas Hiadlovsky out from the net then took a tumble. Hiadlovsky and the Bison defence recovered while Clarkson’s pleas for went unanswered. Even moments later at the next stoppage in play Clarkson continued to ask the referee for the penalty call he believed he was owed.
Matt Towalski had a couple of chances, Baston saving one and the other deflecting away. Then Dan Davies sent Long off on a run but the final shot went wide.
Corey McEwan tested out the Bison net ahead of the Tigers taking their second penalty when Rick Plant got a boarding penalty with a minute left in the opening frame. The Bison pressured hard for the 60 seconds but it was to no avail, the closest being Tomas Karpov’s shot which struck the side netting, and the first period ended with the home team just the 1 ahead.
The second period saw Bison complete their 1.00 remaining of powerplay but Plant returned before any damage could be done. Tomas Hiadlovsky had a clear view of Danny Rose’s attempt and caught the puck. From the re-start Derek Roehl went with Ciaran Long and layed off a tape to tape cross ice pass but Long’s backhand attempt was denied by Baston. Another chance followed soon after with Jon Baston giving away a huge rebound to a Kurt Reynolds chance but fortunately for the Tigers the rebound went wide.
Lubomir Korhon tried using Dan Scott as a screen but having set up the screen he sent his shot wide. Corey McEwen made a solo run into the Bison zone but was denied by Declan Balmer diving full length and poking the puck away from the Tigers forward.
At 25.38 Bison took another step to the good when Ciaran Long netted their second goal. Bison stole the puck from Tigers and Ciaran Long and Dan Davies headed off on a breakaway. Long waited and waited on Baston who it appeared committed to the pass thanks to a fake move from Long before the goalscorer roofed the puck over the sprawling goaltender.
The Bison net came loose behind Tomas Hiadlovsky as he made a save then straight after the re-start the Tigers net came off behind Jon Baston with Tomas Karpov causing chaos in front of the net and the Tigers unable to control the play. Derek Roehl was taken out in open ice with no call but then Joe Baird took a boarding penalty at 27.37 giving the Tigers their first powerplay of the night.
Tigers first chance came from Jonathan Weaver from the point but Hiadlovsky made the save. The goaltender couldn’t repeat the feat moments later when the puck did enter the net but the referee immediately waived off the goal as the puck had been kicked in the net.
From the re-start Matty Davies fed Doug Clarkson who quickly sent it back forcing a pad save from Hiadlovsky but at 28.55 Telford finally got the goal they’d be striving for. After a text book period of powerplay play Rick Plant tipped in a high shot from Sam Zajac. The shot was that high that Hiadlovsky had left the ground looking to catch the shot but Plant managed to get a stick up and deflected it beneath Hiadlovksy’s reach. With no call made for the high stick the goal stood.
Bison were instantly back at the Tigers, Joe Rand feeding Derek Roehl an outlet pass but Roehl’s shot ended with a pad save from Baston and the net coming loose behind again. Rene Jarolin set off Dan Davies but Davies missed the top corner. Ciaran Long then floated a shot on net, as Baston looked to play it the puck took a strange bounce seeing him having the immediately change plans and cover.
Milan Kolena sent a high shot in which Hiadlovsky hooked down and covered swifly. Bison continued at full intensity striving to get further distance between themselves and the Tigers. A speedy break by Tomas Karpov fed Aaron Connolly, the captain returned the puck to Karpov who laid off a perfect centring pass to Grant Rounding but he failed to connect on the doorstep.
High intensity continued as the second period drew to its close. Corey McEwen rounded Joe Baird before shooting wide, Ciaran Long shot at the other end but the puck deflected down off Baston’s helmet and he pounced to cover.
With the second period buzzer sounding it had brought to an end a frenetic period of play.
The third period was different to the first two. Basingstoke had played a very tough 60 minutes the previous night in Milton Keynes while the Tigers headed into this clash fresh with it being their first game of the weekend.
Doug Clarkson backhanded wide after catching Bison defence changing. A huge scramble followed in front of the Bison goal before eventually Hiadlovsky could get the puck covered. Tigers kept up the pressure as Jason Silverthorn skated in and fired and 3.32 into the period they levelled the game. Having being denied moments earlier Silverthorn found himself in space and with time to pick his spot and he netted in the bottom corner for 2-2.
Lubomir Korhon came solo at Hiadlovsky but he kicked away the shot having advanced to meet the shooter. Sam Zajac then fed Matty Davies at the top of the slot but he re-directed the feed over the net. A huge save from Tomas Hiadlovsky followed as Corey McEwen believed he’d scored and looked to claim a goal but the Bison shotstopper had done his job.
After Aaron Connolly had broken and tested Jon Baston straight away action swung back to around the Bison net. Weaver shot in and Hiadlovsky stopped the shot and the rebound shot too. Clearly the equalising goal had given the Tigers a momentum step against a visibly tiring short benched Bison.
Bison strung together a few chances as Ciaran Long forced a stick save, Aaron Connolly drew out a glove save but then ended up called for slashing as he made contact with Baston on his follow through at 50.10.
It took 40 seconds for the game winning goal on the powerplay as the Tigers gained the zone and controlled the play. Doug Clarkson found Jason Silverthorn who got in close and roofed the puck for 2-3 at 50.50.
There was a powerplay on offer for the home team at 51.35 when Matty Davies got called for tripping Tomas Karpov. A good powerplay saw the home team do virtually everything right except get a finish across the line and Davies returned to boost the Tigers to full strength.
Derek Roehl picked up a tripping call in the Bison attacking zone, the referee raising his arm and as he was blowing down the play Declan Balmer collided with Milan Kolena at the other end of the ice.
Tigers powerplay started at 54.13 and the Bison penalty kill wasn’t off to the greatest of starts as Dan Davies saw his stick slashed out of his grip which went uncalled. As Dan Davies looked to the bench to either get a stick or a player swap play continued and Matty Davies gave Jason Silverthorn the feed for his hat-trick strike at 54.40.
Bison dug deep but the Tigers held their ground. With 1.03 left to play Tomas Hiadlovsky headed to the bench for the extra attacker. The best chance came with a face-off in the Tigers end with 31 seconds left but the visitors dug deep to protect their lead and close out for the win.
It was a tough weekend for the Bison. What was due to be a single game weekend against the league leaders while short benched became a double game weekend against the second and first placed teams due to the inevitable departure of the Manchester Phoenix from the league.
Aaron Connolly returned for the weekend after injury but Joe Miller continued to be sidelined although he did take the warm up on home ice. Stuart Mogg and Vanya Antonov were both still missing from the line up with the GB Universities team.
The absence of Mogg meant there were just four defenceman and no real opportunity to shake up defensive pairings without double shifting an already tired defence. Miller and Antonov meant two scoring threats were removed from the line up too against the current two top teams in the league.
Ciaran Long took the man of the match award for the home team and is having a huge year. He leads the Bison in points and is way ahead in the goal scoring list. Rene Jarolin and Tomas Karpov are both scoring well too. The issue for the Bison has been line combinations. With injuries and absentees the Bison lines haven’t been what they otherwise would have been. The Tigers game was rare as even in previous Bison losses this season they’ve managed to outshoot their opponents yet last night they were outshot.
Jon Baston wasn’t sufficiently tested. He faced just 22 shots from his former team. They’d have known from last season his weak spots but just didn’t get enough opportunities to test him. The two goals they scored were beautiful to watch and proved he was beatable.
Bison gave their all in the first two periods and had a lead by the 40 minute mark. It seemed Tigers were content to sit back and soak up the pressure for the opening 2 periods. Tom Watkins would have been well aware Bison had played a tough game the night before short staffed and would have been aware of the significance of the absent players. Joe Miller made 8 Bison appearances before injury equalling his Tigers stats in 15 games. (Interestingly even defenceman Dan Scott has equalled his goals and assists gained in 24 games for Telford in just 16 games for Basingstoke). With Vanya Antonov missing that’s also another near point a game missing from the line up.
It could be argued that Watkins played a smart game. He let Gospel lead the team out for warm up and the team line up before the starting Jon Baston. He sat back and soaked up the Bison pressure, conserving his own team’s energy for a huge push in the third period.
Two of the Telford goals could have seen referee intervention deny them. It’ll need a replay from Bison TV to clarify whether or not Plant’s deflection for their first was indeed a high stick. On the fourth goal on another day there could have been a slashing call in response to the play which saw Dan Davies lose his stick.
Next weekend the Bison get back Stuart Mogg and Vanya Antonov. The fact Joe Miller skated the warm up means he must be near to returning too. Playing teams two and one in a weekend while short benched was an ask too much for the Bison. Arguably the fixture reschedule may have cost the Bison four points in their quest.