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Match report: Milton Keynes Thunder 5 - 7 Bracknell Bees

posted 10 Sep 2017, 12:45 by john slater

The first game of any new season is always brimming with anticipation. But this year with huge changes not only to the team, but to the league as a whole, the prospect is an exciting one and an unknown one for all.   Game 1 for the Bees was away to a familiar rink to face the Milton Keynes Thunder.

Facing the Bees attack was former Bracknell net-minder Tom Annetts, while Alex Mettam was in between the pipes for Bracknell.

The first period started off brightly for both teams with each side tentatively attacking and causing each goaltender to make some comfortable saves. But just over 2 minutes into the game  Shaun Thompson and Frankie Bakrlik combined directly from a face off for the former to set up the latter with a chance from outside the dots who smashed home his shot passed the MK net-minder.

The Bees power play was not looking as sharp as it had done against Swindon the week before, however captain Matt Foord had several great chances after Jamie Line, the Thunder captain, was in the box for hooking.

Both net-minders were called into action and produced some fine saves, but it didn't take too long for MK, once on a power play of their own, to level the score. Two former Bees from last season combined as Rupert Quiney's shot was well saved by Mettam, only to fall perfectly at the stick of Rio Grinnell-Parke who slotted the puck into the gaping net.

The second period saw the Bees put in a repeat start to the first. After the restart the Thunder iced the puck, the resulting face off was won by Thompson and went straight to Bakrlik who smashed home the puck to make it 2-1 Bees.

Only 5 minutes later and the Thunder were back on the board to level yet again. Three former EPL players, Quiney, Tom Carlon and finished by Gareth O'Flaherty combed well to beat Mettam. The MK netminder was the busier of the two as the period wound down, but it would be the Thunder who would get on the score sheet next as Rio Grinnell-Parke got his second and MK's first lead of the night.

Shortly after the MK goal, both Tom Carlon and Jamie Line of MK picked up penalties that would see the Thunder on a 5 on 3 penalty kill and give the Bees a great chance to get another goal. Indeed, only a minute and a half later Thompson and Bakrlik would combine yet again to give the big Czech forward his hat-trick.

Going into the final period at 3-3 both teams were more than in with a chance of winning, but it was the Bees who had the best chance early on with Bakrlik taking on 3 players before reversing the puck across the face of goal only to cause a scramble that was eventually whistled dead. MK weren't going to lie back and let the former EPL team have everything their own way and after less than 2 and a half minutes had retaken the lead through young forward Connor Goode. With just over 10 minutes to go Bees forward Jared Lane picked up a high sticking penalty and the MK Thunder were on the score sheet yet again. Thunder captain Jamie Line with possibly the goal of the night, speeding down ice and shooting high over Mettams left shoulder gave MK the first 2 goal lead of the evening.

At 5-3 down, last seasons Bees would have struggled to pick themselves up, but no so much with this team. As soon as the game was re-started the aggression and desire was back in bucket loads. In fact it took just 36 seconds for the Bees top line to produce yet again, this time Bakrik providing the assist for Thompson to make it 5-4. Then, just minutes later, the Bees pressure paid off again as a fanned shot by Harvey Stead was picked up by Frankie who passed to Thompson who had an easy chance to round the downed and sprawled Annetts. The Bees were on fire and only 23 seconds after the restart the puck came out to George Norcliffe who fired home a gorgeous wrist shot from just inside the blue line and sent the travelling Bee army wild as he made it 6-5 to the Bees.

Despite there only being a few minutes left, the game certainly didn't slow down and things were made even more interesting, as within he final 2 minutes, Bees defence-man Jan Bendik flipped the puck out of the rink picking up a delay of game penalty. Even with the MK net-minder pulled nothing was going to ruin the hard work that the Bees had put in. From the ensuing face-off, the puck was won by Shaun Thompson, who optimistically shot the puck down the ice and it slid perfectly into the empty net.

A great game and a great advert for the league. But more importantly, a great win for the Bees.

Man of the match awards went to Frantisek Bakrlik for the Bees and to Rupert Quiney for the Thunder.

Match stats
Period scores: 1-1; 2-2; 2-4
Thunder Scorers: Grinell-Parke 2+0; Line 1+1; O’Flaherty & C.Goode 1+0; Handisides & Quiney 0+2; Carlon 0+1
Bees scorers: Thompson 3+3; Bakrlik 3+2; Norcliffe 1+0; Best, Tetlow & Stead 0+1
Thunder PIMS: 32 (Phillips & Carlon 12; Line 4; Reynolds & Christie 2)
Bees PIMS: 18 (Martin 10; Bendik, Lane, Stead & Bench 2)
Shots on Thunder (Annetts): 35 (10, 11, 14)
Shots on Bees (Mettam): 22 (12, 5, 5)