LEAGUE FORMAT CONFIRMED FOR 2019 / 20 SEASON

The clubs and management of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) held their annual section meetings this past weekend and agreed the format of competitions for the 2019/20 season starting in September.

A new ten team national division, NIHL National, comes into existence to sit above the long-standing Division 1 and 2 which are both regionalised into North and...
Basingstoke Bison - EPL Champions
31st of March 2019

GAME REPORT: Bison V's Peterborough Phantoms Saturday 30th March 2019

Final Score: Trane Basingstoke Bison 2 Peterborough Phantoms 3

By: Nigel Simmonds

Ref: Pickett
Linoís: Edwards & Sitch-Cunningham

MoM Bison: Harding
MoM Phantoms: Marr

Bison Stats: Norcliffe 1+0, Wilson 1+0, Harding 0+2, Klejna 0+1, Petts 0+1.

Nets: Mettam 18/3 (83.33%)

Phantoms Stats: Hunt 1+0, Robson 1+0, Stepenak 1+0, McEwan 0+2, Susters 0+2, Norton 0+1, Romeo 0+1.

Nets: Marr 29/2 (93.10%)

PiMs : Bison 8 Phantoms 8

The Bison welcomed the Peterborough Phantoms to Basingstoke for the 1st Leg of the Britton Conference Semi-final.

Bison were at full strength, for the first time in a while. These two teams have almost been inseparable this season, sharing the league series games at 3 wins apiece. Unfortunately, the Phantoms denied the Bison a trophy, when they won the NIHL South Cup a few weeks back, so we definitely have revenge on our minds.

Mr Pickett dropped the puck for this game and from the off, you could tell it was going to be a full-on high intensity game. Bison created the first chance, when George Norcliffe had a couple of whacks at a loose puck in front of net, but Marr managed to smother the puck.

Bison were certainly having the best of the chances, but unfortunately, they couldn't make them count.

Martins Susters took the first penalty of the game (6.59) when after a Jay King hit, he reacted by Cross-Checking King in the face.

Marr was busy on the Powerplay, but on one occasion, the Phantoms blatantly pushed the net off its moorings, denying the Bison a goal. Ref Pickett chose to just call a face-off, instead of giving the easiest of Delay of Game calls ever!!

Phantoms saw off the penalty, but it wouldn't be long before Bison were back on the PP. Stepenak the offending play and again Cross-Checking being the call.

Once again, Marr was under fire, but kept us at bay. Phantoms returned to full strength soon after.

It was a really good period of hockey from the Bison, who you could tell were really up for it. All the possession and chances paid off, when they finally got the go-ahead goal (12.20), from a slightly unlikely source. Adam Harding fresh from a line change, found Paul Petts, who played the perfect pass to an on-rushing Hallam Wilson and he buried the puck past Marr, much to the joy of the Bison fans. The noise from their celebrations, almost took the roof off!

Soon after, Danny Ingoldsby would pick up a penalty call, when he was assessed a Cross-Checking call. Was beginning think that was the only call Mr Pickett knew. As much as they tried, Phantoms really didn't trouble Alex Mettam in the Bison net. Bison killed the penalty successfully.

Bison had a couple more chances, but at the end of the first period, with shots on goal reading, 11 on Phantoms and only 4 on Bison, it showed how much Bison enjoyed the period. Scoreline was Bison 1 Phantoms 0.

The second period started and again it would be Bison that would create a lot more chances from the off. Jordan Marr made a couple of great saves, one being a highlight reel one, when he somehow managed, whilst flat on the ice, to get up and glove a puck from behind him, that had looped over him and was heading for the twine. But, with his brilliance, also comes luck, as he rode it on many occasions, whilst floundering around, not knowing 100% sure where the puck was, but the Bison attack couldn't put the puck away.

At 32.30, playing his first game in a few weeks, Elliott Dewey was called for Hooking. The Bison PK stood firm and neutralized every Phantoms attack and returned to full strength.

You can tell there's no love lost between these teams, by some of the challenges that were going in and alas on most occasions, they went uncalled.

Going into the last minute of the period and with Richard Bordowski bearing in on goal, he was brought down. Tom Norton picking up a Tripping call (39.12) giving Bison another man advantage. The remaining seconds of the period ran down and at the buzzer, Bison still held the slender single goal lead.

Again, the shots on goal really backed up the Bison's dominance, this time it was 14 on Phantoms and a lowly 4 on Bison.

At the start of the 3rd period, it had dawned on me that we were playing short 2 of our top d-men. Adam Jones and Jay King had picked up knocks earlier and couldn't carry on. To be honest, Iím usually so engrossed in the game, that I do tend to miss these things occasionally, not to mention the odd goal here and there, whilst updating my match reports. It's a tough job........!! lol

This now meant, that we would have a more players playing out of position, obviously causing the forward lines to be disrupted. Could we keep up the momentum that we had produced over the first two periods.

Bison still had 1.13 of Norton's penalty to try and extend their lead. A couple of chances went by the way, but just as the penalty was about to run down, Bison would get the all-important second goal. Timed at 41.10, a move involving Adam Harding finding Michal Klejna to the left of Marr. Klej took his time until he saw the opportunity of the perfect pass, that found George Norcliffe all alone in the slot and he fired the puck home, again to the joy of the home crowd.

Now two goals up and with Bison definitely deserving their lead, it was a case of could they hold on and keep the Phantoms attack at bay. It was going to be a big ask.

And so it was, because at 45.34 Phantoms got on the board with a goal that basically came out of nothing. A face-off to the left of Mettam saw the puck won by Stepenak and in the blink of an eye, the puck was behind Alex in net. It all happened so quick, I didn't even realise they'd scored until the Phantoms players started celebrating. Susters and McEwan picking up assists on the goal. It was just what Peterborough needed, a quick response to the Bison's 2nd goal.

Sadly for Bison, it was going to get worse quite quickly. Hallam Wilson picked up a Hooking call at 46.38. From the resulting powerplay, Phantoms would tie the scores. Susters and McEwan combining again to set up Scott Robson, who beat Mettam to his short side. Now it was a case of just seeing out the game.

Alex Mettam who had hardly put a foot wrong all evening, and as I found out afterwards, playing whilst feeling quite sick, unfortunately made the slightest error and of course, whereas Marr somehow had all the puck, Alex didn't. A pass from Norton found Taylor Romeo on the left and as his shot came in, Mettsy appeared to mis-glove It, but it fell invitingly to Jarvis Hunt and he buried the puck past Alex to give the Phantoms the lead.

It was like a kick to every Bison players/fans chest, as Peterborough honestly didn't really deserve the lead, as they'd been outplayed for long periods of the game. But then again, in another way, you have to give them credit for still competing, when they must've thought it wasn't going to be their night.

We now entered the final 2 mins of the game. Once again, a coming together went uncalled, so the two players carried on whilst play come up ice. The two guys, Morris and Pollard were called for Roughing and Holding respectively, although Pollard being the instigator decided to turn turtle.

Now with both teams with 4 skaters out on ice, it was a case of could someone grab an all-important goal, that might either tie the game or get a bigger advantage. It almost proved the first case, as Ashley Tait almost tied the game, when he backhanded a loose puck, but his shot went agonizingly just wide, when it looked harder to miss.

The rest of the time ran down and at the final buzzer, Phantoms had done a smash & grab job on the Bison.

It really sets up an all-important game tonight. It's an all or nothing game for both teams. Win and you go ahead to the Conference Final & more importantly, qualify for The Final Four Play-Offs in Coventry.

Lose........ and that's your teams season done!!