WEEKEND PREVIEW: BIG WEEKEND FOR THE HERD AS THE RACE FOR PLAY OFF PLACES HOTS UP

This weekends NIHL National league action sees the Trane Basingstoke Bison at home to Leeds Chiefs on Saturday, and away to MK Lightning on Sunday.

Saturday’s game at the Silverdome which has a 6.30pm face off, will be the Chiefs 3rd appearance in Basingstoke this season, but only their 2nd as the visiting side.

Leeds recent form shows excellent home wins...
12th of January 2020

GAME REPORT: BISON V's Hull Pirates Saturday 11th January 2020

Final score: Basingstoke Bison 5-2 Hull Pirates

Saturday 11th January 2020

Bison MOM: Michal Klejna – Pirates MOM: Lee Bonner

Bison stats: Tait 0+4, Klejna 3+0, Jones 0+2, Kelly 0+1, Norris 1+0, Sutton 1+0

Netminder: Alex Mettam 27/2 (92.59%)

Pirates stats: Bissonnette 0+1, Bonner 1+0, Chamberlain 1+0, Davies 0+1, Hewitt 0+1, Norris 0+1

Netminder: Ashley Smith 43/4 (90.70%) – Empty Net 1/1

PIM: Bison 6 – 6 Pirates. SOG: Bison 44 – 27 Pirates

Refs: Matthews and Rose – Lino’s: Cook and MacPhee

For the second and final time in regular season action, the Trane sponsored Basingstoke Bison welcomed the Hull Pirates to town and looked to build on a four point effort last week, which included wins against Swindon and Peterborough. Tonight’s visitors saw Matty Davies return to the line up after a lengthy injury as well as Matt Bissonnette making his debut, with home fans also receiving positive news as George Norcliffe (my favourite player) made a return to action after a long spell on the sidelines.

With the league table looking very tight between 3rd and 7th place, the Herd were undoubtedly keen to keep themselves ahead of the chasing pack with another two points and made the perfect start at 1:10, as Michal Klejna (Tait) tucked home a rebound for a 1-0 lead after Pirates’ netminder Ashley Smith had spilled a shot from player/coach Ashley Tait. Fast forward two minutes and it was double delight for the home side as import forward Michal Klejna scored his second of the night at only 3:18, this time unassisted after an errant pass from a Pirates player left Klejna alone in front of goal and he calmly finished past Smith in goal.

The visitors have an extremely potent set of offensive players that can strike at any time and yet, the Bison looked in complete control during the early stages. The first penalty of the night was called at 8:25 as Chris Wilcox was penalised for Holding the Stick, allowing the Herd’s powerplay unit a chance to extend their lead even further and at 9:21, the score line indeed became 3-0.

In a similar fashion to the first goal, a shot was saved by Ashley Smith but the rebound fell to a Bison player and this time it was Sean Norris (Tait, Jones) who reacted first to poke the puck home and wheel away in joy, as the home crowd cheered in delight. Aside from a Roughing penalty against Bobby Chamberlain, no further action saw an excellent first period end with the Bison three goals ahead.

The middle frame began far more evenly as both sides had chances on goal, with Bison forward Adam Harding hitting the crossbar and Pirates new signing Matt Bissonnette going close shortly afterwards. Despite having a three goal cushion, the home side knew that any lapse in concentration would be punished and at 29:53, the Pirates finally opened their account for the night as Bobby Chamberlain (Davies, Bissonnette) sent a nice shot past Alex Mettam, reducing the deficit to 3-1. Momentum was firmly with the away side now and at 31:26 a nightmare became very real for the Herd as Lee Bonner (Hewitt, Norris) scored in tight, bringing the Pirates to within one goal at 3-2. Having been comfortably ahead, the Bison were now desperate to halt the comeback and went close soon after as Liam Morris saw his effort kiss the crossbar before being cleared off the line. An Interference penalty on Richard Bordowski at 39:12 would see the Bison go on the penalty kill for the first time in the game, but they held on to take a 3-2 lead into the second break.

In a tense final period the Bison were looking to re-establish their early dominance and thankfully at 47:24 they found a hero as Michal Klejna (Tait, Kelly) completed a fantastic hat trick by slipping the puck past Ashley Smith from a tight angle to put the Herd 4-2 ahead. Jay King was called for Holding less than two minutes later, handing the away side a potentially valuable powerplay opportunity but they were unable to capitalise.

As the clock ticked towards the final five minutes, Bison defenceman Adam Jones was sent to the penalty box on an Interference call but once again the home side held firm to keep their two goal cushion intact. In a final roll of the dice, the Pirates pulled their netminder in favour of an extra skater but the gamble backfired as despite Adam Harding and Liam Morris missing the empty net, Ryan Sutton (Tait, Jones) finally scored into the open net at 59:46, after ‘Tait the Great’ had sped down the left wing and fed Sutton all alone in front of goal, completing a fully deserved 5-2 victory and a fourth consecutive home win!

Sunday saw the Bison travel to Shropshire to take on the league-leading Telford Tigers, where my esteemed colleague Nigel Simmonds will soon report back from.

The next home game is on Saturday 18th January, a battle royale against the Bracknell Bees!