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Match Report: Basingstoke Bison 6 - 4 Bracknell Bees

posted 26 Dec 2017, 07:31 by john slater
Match report by Ashley Willitt

In the Bees penultimate competitive game of 2017, they travelled down the road into Hampshire to take on fierce local rivals the Basingstoke Bison. Trying to avoid a tenth straight defeat the Bees were still missing Shaun Thompson and Harvey Stead with injuries and Danny Ingoldsby and Ben Ealey-Newman due to suspension. They did however welcome Josh Ealey-Newman, Jack Hayes and under 18 forward Daniel Fay to the squad.

Starting in net for the Bees was Alex Mettam and for the Bison, Dean Skinns. Officiating the game was Stephen Mathews, with Flynn Sitch-Cunningham and Alisdair MacPhee running the lines.

The first period started relatively open, with the Bees looking almost like the side that started the season. Strong fore-checking and good passing balanced with a desire to win every puck battle. However, it was an unfortunate bounce from the zamboni doors that undid all the Bees early hard work. Gifting the puck to Josh Smith he passed to Bison danger man Tomas Karpov, who made no mistake in dispatching his early chance. Despite the Bees refreshed look they were still not getting enough shots on goal and wasted an early power play with barely a good shot on target. After George Norcliffe missed an open ice hit while powering into the Bison zone he fell comically on his back side, allowing Basingstoke to turn defence into quick offence and made it 2-0 through Captain Aaron Connolly. Mettam was the busier of the 2 goalies and was called into action on many occasions with numerous scrambles around the net that he needed to be both good and lucky.

The Bison came out quickly in the second period with Mettam denying Grant Rounding an early opportunity at point blank range. But it was the Bees who looked even more up for the game than at the start of the first. Gaining the man advantage after Connolly was assessed a tripping minor the Bees passed the puck comfortably and uncontested and eventually got it to Matt Foord, who found Frankie Bakrlik wide open and with enough time to slap the puck past Skinns. Bracknell tied the game up at 2-2 just minutes later after some determined work from Norcliffe creating a chance for Josh Ealey-Newman, who squeezed the puck past Skinns. The Bees took their first lead of the night in the 31st minute with great skill and speed from Bakrlik after being set up by Matt Foord and Carl Thompson. The lead didn't last long as just 2 minutes later, while on a power play, former Bee Josh Smith struck the puck through a screen of players and past a helpless Mettam. The goals didn't end there as yet again with the Bison on a power play the home team created an opening for Connolly to get his second of the night with a beautiful goal, dancing through the Bees defence with speed and sending Mettam the wrong way.

Still with their tails up despite being a goal down Bracknell showed the resilient travelling support that they weren't going to go away easily. Ealey-Newman with a good early effort on Skinns, using the Bison defenceman as a screen. Bakrlik was also displaying the side of his play we all like to see, strong, skilful and determined. With dogged work behind the net, he managed to chip the puck to the front of the crease where Thompson was on hand to tap the puck into the net from seemingly mid-air. At 4-4 the Bees were still looking strong to get their first win since 5th November. However, a couple of silly penalties meant they put themselves under unnecessary pressure and with just over 8 minutes on the clock the home team made it 5-4 through Daniel Scott. With time running down the Bees maintained the offensive but couldn't find a way through. A big hit from one #44 to another, Karpov on Spearing released the puck down the left wing where Vanya Antonov was on hand to finish with a nice move to beat Mettam.

6-4 it finished, but it was a promising performance from the Bees against the new league leading Bison. Hopes are that it won’t be too long before Shaun Thompson is back, as his partnership with Bakrlik was the spark that set the whole team alight at the beginning of the campaign. But without him this game has shown that there is still fire left in the rest of the team and that, on another night, with a little more luck, that elusive win is not too far out of reach.

Match stats
Period Scores: 2-0; 2-3; 2-1
Bison scorers: Connolly 2+-0; Karpov 1+2; Scott, Antonov & Smith 1+1; Dewey & Malinik 0+2; Baird & Davies 0+1
Bees scorers: Bakrlik 2+1; C.Thompson 1+1; J.Ealey-Newman 1+0; Foord & Avery 0+2; Spearing & Norcliffe 0+1
Bison PIMS: 18 (Karpov 12; Antonov, Connolly & Malinik 2)
Bees PIMS: 12 (Galazzi, Best, Foord, Bendik, Avery, Spearing 2)
Shots on Bison (Skinns): 17 (6, 6, 5)
Shots on Bees (Mettam): 29 (10, 11, 8)