Photo (C) Jo Loat
Final Score : Wildcats 2 Bison 4
Refs : Mr Brooks & Mr Poulton
Lino’s : Mr Earl & Mr Sore
I do hope you all had a great Christmas, spending time with family, giving & receiving presents and didn’t overindulge too much with Turkey, Pudding etc, etc …
Like previous years, your GalxC Cooling Services sponsored Basingstoke Bison, usually end up travelling on Boxing Day, to fulfil a fixture… this year it was a short-ish trip to Wiltshire, to face league leaders (& current Autumn Cup Champs) the Swindon Wildcats.
Before travelling, I had a good feeling that we might actually get something from this game, even a point would be good in my eyes…
I arrived at the Link Centre, to hear the news that we were missing 5 key players, through Covid….
Adam Harding, Hallam Wilson, Elliott Dewey, Player/Coach Ashley Tait & all round phenom Liam Morris… Not going to lie, my heart sank a little & I thought, we could face an onslaught from a very strong offensively built Swindon team.
They did also have a few main guys out too, but the bulk of the roster were all playing.
Youngsters Elliot Lewis, Will Birch and the ever impressing Thomas Banner, we’re added to the squad.
George Norcliffe was given the “C” & Paul Petts an “A”.. and Alex Mettam would start between the pipes for this one.
The puck dropped for the start of the game and both teams set about creating chances… an early chance arose for the Bison, when Wildcats Floyd Taylor picked up a Hooking call (1.54). With Bison on the powerplay, it would be Swindon that actually had the best chamce to score.. Aaron Nell sent clear up ice and in all alone on Mettam. Nell wristed his shot, but Mettam came up big, with a fab blocker save.
Wildcats returned to full strength soon after.
Swindon piled on more pressure and Mettam was called into action again, with a good save from Ben Nethersall. However, the constant pressure would pay off… at 7.20 on the clock, a poor clearance was batted down by Sam Bullas and his slide rule pass across net found hotshot Emil Svec and he despatched the puck past Mettam, to open the scoring.
Bison continued to make forays up ice and Elliot Lewis saw his shot saved by Marr. Apart from that, we didn’t offer too much offence.
Alex Mettam was called upon again and he made another good sprawling save to keep out Swindon.
As the period ended, Wildcats led 1-0, with shots on goal reading 16 on Bison & only 5 on Wildcats.
Into the second period now and Bison came out a bit more fired up.
But it would be Swindon that almost doubled their lead. That man Svec again, charging down a shot and skating away with only Mettam to beat, but Mettsy was so up for tonight and he made another brilliant save to deny him.
Swindon would pick up another penalty, this time Edgar Bebris was given a 2 + 10 call for Checking to the Head, as he went in really high on Ollie Stone on the boards.. that was a bit naughty and thankfully Ollie wasn’t seriously hurt and returned to the bench.
The Bison used the powerplay well and moved the puck quickly to create an opportunity. Zack Milton finding Brendan Baird and his quick cross ice pass found Alex Roberts, who picked his spot and rifled the puck past Marr, to tie the score (26.54).
A few seconds after the restart and a delayed call on the play came. George Norcliffe being given a Tripping call, but as the play continued, there was a coming together on the boards, just as Bison touched the puck to stop the play, Oli Endicott and Thomas Banner had some fisticuffs, with Thomas clearly getting the “W” on that one.
Swindon had opportunities to score. Declan Balmer saw his slap shot saved by Mettam and Malasinski also tested Mettam, but he stood firm between the pipes. Bison returned to full strength.
Swindon then thought they had taken the lead again, but Svec’s shot came back off the underside of the bar and Mr Brooks signalled no goal. It was getting a bit tense and Swindon just kept coming back for more… but Mettsy was outstanding… throwing himself on loose pucks around the net and stopping everything we they threw at him.
Bison did create a couple of chances too. Norcliffe found himself in front of net and went top shelf, but Marr made a good save to deny him. Paul Petts also saw his goalbound shot saved by Marr.
Brendan Baird picked up a Cross-Checking call (37.32), but Bison penalty killers saw off the penalty and returned to full strength soon after.
Now into the final minute of the period and another one of George Norcliffe’s mazey skates up ice…. beats one, beats another, appears to be pushed a little wide of the net, but still manages to get a good shot off… the puck flies underneath Marr’s blocker and nestles in the bottom corner of the net, to give the visitors the lead (39.46) and sends the travelling Bison fans into raptures of screaming and cheering.
Zack Milton picking up an assist.
The period ends and Bison go into the 2nd break, with a deserved one goal lead. Shots on Goal were 14 on Bison & 10 on Wildcats.
As the teams come out for the 3rd period, it appears that Renny Marr has sustained an injury, as back up nettie Michael Crisp, replaces him between the pipes for Wildcats.
The puck drops and we’re off again.
Bison have a really good chance to extend their lead early in, when Alex Sampford breaks up the play and sets off up ice, with only Crisp to beat. But he appears to lose the control of the puck at the crucial point and Crisp makes the save.
Then, Alex Roberts sees his snap shot well saved too. Just over the 10 minute mark of the period and Swindon finally get the equalizing goal. Sam Godfrey & Reed Sayers combine to set up Tomas Malasinski and he makes no mistake, firing past Mettam (50.56).
However, a few seconds after the restart and Declan Balmer picks up a Hooking penalty call (51.10), to give Bison a perfect chance to regain the lead……. and they don’t disappoint.. a goal mouth scramble with bodies everywhere, but Aidan Doughty manages to get enough of the puck, to squeeze it over the line (51.22). It’s the perfect response.
It gets even better a couple of minutes later. Zack Milton and Doughty break up ice on a 2-on-1.
Milton passes to Doughty and his one-timer beats Crisp again (53.59), to give the Bison a two goal lead. This results in Swindon calling their 30 sec Time Out….
Play starts up again and Swindon are pushing hard again to create offense, trying to get back a goal, but Bison just do the simple things correctly. Clearing the zone, not making too many fancy passes, that might get overturned and create opportunities for Wildcats. Time is running down, but you can never underestimate a team like Swindon, as they have so much talent that can turn a game at the drop of a hat.
Thankfully, Bison appear to have their measure tonight and Mettam & the defence guys are doing everything they can to thwart the attacks that keep coming. Alex Mettam is playing so well, but occasionally it appears he may have picked up a slight knock during the game, but it’s certainly not stopping him.
Into the last 3 minutes and with the face off in the Bison zone, Swindon pull Crisp for the extra attacker. Bison have a couple of chances, but the puck just goes wide of the empty net. Into the final 2 minutes and Bison pick up a penalty.. Brendan Baird given a Hooking call (58.07)… this gives Bison a perfect time to use their Time Out…
Swindon now go 6-on-4 for the remaining time on the clock. The Bison players use all their remaining energy to get the puck cleared and just get it out if our zone.. the final seconds run down and the buzzer sounds to bring the game to an end.
The Bison players & fans celebrate equally as much, as this was an outstanding effort from the guys to pull off this hard fought, but very well deserved victory.
Man of the Match :
Wildcats : Tomas Malasinski
Bison : Alex Mettam
Wildcats : Malasinski 1+0, Svec 1+0, Bullas 0+1, Godfrey 0+1, Sayers 0+1.
Nets : Marr 15/2 (86.67%)
Crisp 8 /2 (75.00%)
Bison : Doughty 2+0, Norcliffe 1+0, Roberts 1+0, Milton 0+3, Baird 0+1.
Nets : Mettam 41/2 (95.2%)
Shots on Goal : Wildcats 41 Bison 23
Penalties (PiMs) : Wildcats 11 Bison 11
I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish you all, a very Happy New Year… !!