(C) Jo Loat

Final Score : Steeldogs 4  Bison 1

By Nigel Simmonds

Refs : Mr Poulton & Mr Truswell
Lino’s : Mr Neenan & Mr  Smith

Following Saturday nights disappointing loss at the hands of Swindon Wildcats, the Galx Cooling Services sponsored Basingstoke Bison, headed up the M1 to take on league leaders, the Sheffield Steeldogs.

Bison were still missing Adam Harding, Hallam Wilson, Paul Petts and were now joined by Dan Weller-Evans, who picked up an injury the night before. However, we were joined by Basingstoke Buffalo nettie Matt Harrison & two way signing, Elliott Lewis from the Solent Devils…

From the opening face-off, Bison showed their intent of how they wanted the evening to go, by creating a couple of good early chances. Steeldogs also had a couple too, but Alex Mettam stood firm between the pipes.

George Norcliffe almost put the visitors ahead, when he intercepted a pass across ice and skated in alone. He tried to go top shelf, but appeared to scoop the puck over the net, I can only think the puck may have hobbled at the point of contact, causing George to fire high & wide. A few minutes later and it was Filip Martinec that found himself in on goal, but his shot was easily saved by Zimozdra.

Mettam blanked another Steeldogs attack soon after. Alex Roberts was then set free by Ashley Tait, but unfortunately he miscontrolled the puck and the chance was gone.

The refs didn’t need to get involved at all, as no penalties were called.
The buzzer sounded and it was a 0+0 scoreline going in at the first interval. Shots on goal, 9 on Steeldogs & 11 on Bison.

The 2nd Period started pretty much like the 1st, with Bison doing alot of pressing on the Steeldogs net … and soon they finally got their reward. Ollie Stone picking out Ashley Tait, who with a one time pass found Alex Roberts in space and in the blink of an eye, he had wristed the puck past Zimozdra to put Bison in the lead (22.47).
That for me, is what I expect from Alex. Whenever we played Streatham a couple of years back, he was always lighting the lamp, with goals like this against us…..

Half the game had gone and we still hadn’t had a penalty called…. this is usually unheard of.. !!

But, I spoke too soon… like they say, you wait for ages for a bus…  and then 3 turn up all at once…. 3 penalty calls in just 32 seconds.
Firstly, Sheffield’s Jason Hewitt picked up a Hooking call (32.14), then Bison’s Zack Milton, also given a Hooking call (32.25) & finally Steeldogs Lee Bonner was assessed an Elbows call (32.46)…

So with Bison playing 4-on-3 for over a minute, they set out to take advantage of the extra man & extra room on the ice and had it not been for the thickness of the post, Aidan Doughty would’ve increased the visitors lead.

Steeldogs saw off the first penalty and then Bison returned to full strength, giving us a small amount of time on the powerplay.  But alas, we couldn’t make it count and the home team killed off the penalty.

Just as we entered the final minute if the period, Liam Morris fought his way through the Steeldogs defence and it looked like he would score…. but “clang” sounded out and the puck came back off the bar. Sheffield quickly went on the counter attack and the puck ended up on Hewitt’s stick and he rifled the puck past an unsighted Mettam, to tie the scoreline at one apiece (39.03) … Bissonnette & Morgan picking up assists on the goal.

The remaining few seconds ran down and at the 2nd break, both teams went in level.
Shots on Goal were, 15 on ZImozdra & Mettam facing 11 shots..

We entered the 3rd period and with the scoreline so close, it would be all about who could possibly take an opportunity and get a go ahead goal.
Bison were handed a powerplay, when Lee Bonner picked up a Slashing call (44.34), but Bison couldn’t penetrate the Steeldogs defence and they returned to full strength. At 50.15, Bison’s Liam Morris picked up a really soft call,  for Hooking.. However, just over a minute later, Steeldogs Jonathon Kirk picked up a High Sticks call (51.17), to negate the man advantage. Both team successfully killed the penalties.

Steeldogs almost took the lead, when Matt Bissonnette tried a wraparound, but Mettam was alert and managed to make the save, but the puck popped out into the crease and just before Hewitt could pounce, Mettsy made a cracking save, whilst doing the splits.

Then came the major turning point in the game. Steeldogs Nathan Ripley pulled off pretty much the same move as Bissonnette a few minutes earlier, but this time as Mettam made the save, the net became dislodged and was clearly off it’s moorings, when Sam Towner picked up the loose puck and backhanded it past Mettam to give Sheffield the lead (55.50).

Referee Mr Poulton, who was clearly in sight of the goal, still signalled that it was a good goal.. this caused Mettsy and pretty much most of the Bison team, to challenge the call. But it clear that the ref wouldn’t change his mind and the goal stood.

It was a real kick in the teeth for the Bison, who up til then, were playing so much better and looked like they might deservedly get at least a point, as reward for their efforts….

We entered the final 2 minutes and with a face off in Sheffield’s defensive zone, Bison called a Time Out, with 1.48 left on the clock.
Mettam was pulled in favour of an extra skater and the net was empty. It was all or nothing now…

Unfortunately, the Bison didn’t win the face off and Steeldogs managed to clear the zone, with Bissonnette finding Jason Hewitt, who skated in and slotted home into the unguarded cage for an empty net goal (58.25)… it was a real dagger in the heart of Bison’s resilience.

But Steeldogs weren’t finished yet. From the face off, they came up ice again and the Hewitt/Bissonette combo were involved again. Bissonette’s shot hitting Mettam’s helmet, before dropping down and James Spurr managed to squeeze the puck past Mettam, for a 4th goal for the home team (58.56).
Again, the Bison players felt aggrieved that the goal was allowed to stand, but their complaints fell on dear ears and were rejected by the officials. Once again a poor decision had left the Bison, with a scoreline that flattered Sheffield, but didn’t do the Bison any justice for their efforts …

The final few seconds ran down and Steeldogs came away with a very fortunate result, because the Bison thoroughly deserved something from the game.

Man of the Match :
Steeldogs: Nathan Ripley
Bison : Alex Mettam

Stats :
Steeldogs : Hewitt 2+1, Spurr 1+0, Towner 1+0, Bissonnette 0+3, Bell 0+1, Morgan 0+1, Ripley 0+1.
Nets : Zimozdra 33/1 (96.97%)

Stats :
Bison : Roberts 1+0, Stone 0+1, Tait 0+1.
Nets : Mettam 35/3 (91.43%)
Empty Net 1/1

Shots on Goal : Steeldogs 36 Bison 33

Penalties (PiMs) : Steeldogs 8 Bison 4

The Bison return to home action next Saturday, when the MK Lightning will be the visitors to the Bison Arena… Good seats are still available !!

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