22nd of January 2018
Weekend Review - Home advantage rules the Wildcats weekendA home and away league weekend against the Swindon Wildcats started in Hampshire with the Sherfield School Basingstoke Bison on home ice.
Basingstoke Bison 2 Swindon Wildcats 1 (after penalty shots)
The packed Bison arena impeccably observed a minute’s silence in memory of Head Coach Doug Sheppard’s Mother showing support for the Coach and his family at a difficult time.
Game officials were Stephen Matthews along with Flynn Sytch-Cunningham and Andrew Strain on the lines.
Both teams started sharply with Roman Malinik and Edgar’s Bebris both testing out the netminders. Bison then strung together some good chances as Vanya Antonov fed Dan Davies with Renny Marr catching that on the shoulder. Kurt Reynolds floated a shot in from a back pass from Tomas Karpov which Marr initially mishandled but he recovered to cover before anyone could reach the dropped puck. Aaron Connolly seized on a lose puck but Marr kicked away his attempt.
A couple of good saves from Dean Skinns followed as both teams failed to relent and as midway of the first period passed neither team had broken the deadlock.
Wildcats got the game’s first powerplay at 13.04 when Joe Baird was called for cross checking and at 14.32 the large contingent of Wildcats fans stood to cheer their opening goal. A text book powerplay saw the puck round the zone and back to Edgars Bebris who shot in. The puck must have taken a deflection on the way in as a shot that initially looked to be a skimmer entered high into the net beating the Bison goaltender.
The goal didn’t dent the Bison offensive efforts and a period of sustained pressure finally earned them a powerplay when Sam Godfrey drew a boarding penalty at 18.16. Tomas Karpov came close but his attempt edged past the outside of the post and the first period ended with 16 seconds of powerplay to carry over but Wildcats still ahead by a goal.
The short powerplay at the start of the second period ticked away quickly and Sam Godfrey returned. That didn’t stop the Herd having a good start to the second period enjoying prolonged spells of pressure in and around the Wildcats zone. Dean Skinns was alert to the Wildcats chances and the large turn out got treated to a fantastic exhibition of hockey.
Chris Jones coughed up a powerplay to the Bison at 30.13 when Vanya Antonov got past him he ended up with a boarding penalty as he took down the Bison forward.
Just 12 seconds into the powerplay Bison were level when a great pass found Ryan Sutton in behind the defence and he cut in and went 1 on 1 with the netminder before releasing a perfect shot.
Hallam Wilson forced a quick save from Renny Marr not long after he’d conceded the leveling goal before Dean Skinns was making a save at the other end. Bison broke straight from the save but Dan Davies ended up denied by Marr.
Ryan Sutton sat out a two minute minor for holding at 37.10 but Bison played out the shorthanded spell with relative ease and the scoreboard held at 1-1 as the second period buzzer sounded.
There was a spell of 4 on 4 early in the final period as Paul Petts and Joseph Hazeldine came together but the open ice didn’t give rise to any scoring..
Aaron Nell drew two sharp saves out of Dean Skinns before his team would give up another penalty as Jan Kostal took out Ryan Sutton in the corner and took a boarding penalty at 45.56. Some good passing found Aaron Connolly waiting at the back door but Renny Marr was there too and Wildcats returned to full strength.
As the 50.00 minute came and went the game seemed destined to be heading to overtime and neither team would give a scrap of hope to the other.
At 54.35 Roman Malinik took a high sticking call giving Swindon a vital two minute powerplay. Sam Bullas losing his footing allowed Vanya Antonov to get in alone on net shorthanded but Renny Marr pulled off a sharp reaction save to deny Antonov from close range.
A huge penalty kill was completed by the Herd and two huge saves at either end within the final thirty second saw the game head to the sudden death extra period.
Edgars Bebris had the first chance to end the game in overtime but in a frantic extra period his chance was followed quickly by Dan Scott at the other end. Ryan Sutton nearly finished the game in a similar way to the one he’d scored the game tying goal earlier but this time Renny Marr made the save.
A neutral zone face off with 14.3 seconds remaining saw Sam Bullas eventually get the puck but as he bore down on the Bison net the end of period buzzer sounded and the game headed to penalty shots.
Roman Malinik shot first but Renny Marr got squarely behind the shot. Chris Jones went first for Swindon and Dean Skinns batted away his shot keeping the first round scoreless.
Dan Davies took the next shot and drew Renny Marr to him. Davies was almost on the goal line as he suddenly pulled the puck in another direction and slotted home. Edgars Bebris shot next and lifted his shot high over the net.
Josh Smith looked to shoot 5 hole but found himself denied leaving Aaron Nell the chance to equalize the shoot out and send it further but a huge save by Dean Skinns won the game for the home team and the capacity crowd rose to their feet.
Basingstoke: Sutton 1+0; Mogg & Baird 0+1. GWP 1+0. Net: Skinns (65.00) 27/1
Swindon: Bebris 1+0; Nell, Birbraer 0+1. Net: Marr (65.00) 28/1
Period Scores: 0-1/1-0/0-0/0-0/1-0
Shots On Goal: 28-27
Penalty Minutes: 8-8
Referee S Matthews. Linesmen: A Strain & F Sytch-Cunningham
The following night the Herd were on the road at the return fixture.
Swindon Wildcats 4 Basingstoke Bison 2
Stephen Matthews again took charge with Edwards and West on the lines and Chris Jones gave the home team a dream start at 3.50 when he netted an early powerplay goal. Dan Davies levelled the game at 7.21 and the teams shared the honours at the 20 minute mark.
A late goal by the Herd reduced the end of second period deficit to a single goal after Luc Johnson and Aaron Nell scored for the home team at 32.58 and 33.51 Stuart Mogg bagged a goal with 17 second left to play in the period.
A Phil Hill goal at 53.25 gave Swindon a cushion in the run in and despite Bison playing 69 seconds of empty net at the end of the game they couldn’t further break Renny Marr’s last line of defence and the home team split the weekend by taking the win on home ice.
Swindon: Nell 1+2; Jones 1+1; Bebris 0+2; Johnson, Hill 1+0; Bullas, Birbraer, Whitfield 0+1. Net: Marr (59.49) 37/2
Basingstoke: Davies, Mogg 1+0; Antonov, Smith, Malinik, Connolly 0+1. Net: Skinns (58.51) 25/4 & Empty Net (1.09) 0/0
Period Scores: 1-1/2-1/1-0
Shots On Goal: 25-37
Penalty Minutes: 8-18
Referee: S Matthews. Linesmen: Edwards & West
Bison Captain Aaron Connolly looked back over the weekend; “We knew coming into the weekend that both games would be tight and we would have to be at our best to come out with a result.
"Saturday night we did just that and took it to Swindon all night, we had our chances to take the game in regulation but it wasn’t to be and this one went to the wire. To win a game on penalty shots you always need an element of luck but with Danny Datsyuk and Deano answering the bell we took the 2 points. Sunday night was a tough one to swallow, we were in the game all night but hockey is a game of mistakes and we made a few which they capitalised on. One thing that can’t be questioned is the guy’s work ethic, they gave it everything over both games.
"We will regroup at practice and work on areas where we can improve and come back stronger for this week’s fixtures.
He concluded by thanking the Bison fans; "Finally I just want to thank everyone for their continued support, the Silverdome Arena was rocking on Saturday and the amount of fans who travelled to Swindon was amazing. Your support means the world to us and I’m sure we will have much of the same for the run in.”
The Bison are next in action this coming Friday against Hull Pirates in the opening leg of the Autumn Cup Semi-Final