Final Score : Leeds Knights 3 Bison 4
By Nigel Simmonds
Refs : Mr Brown & Mr Miller
Lino’s : Mr Neenan & Mr Smith
After a convincing win on home ice, against league leaders Telford Tigers, your GalxC Cooling Services sponsored Basingstoke Bison, travelled to West Yorkshire, to play the Leeds Knights. Knights parted ways with Head Coach Dave Whistle in midweek and he was replaced by ex-Bison Ryan Aldridge. Leeds had a night off on Saturday, so as this was their only game of the weekend, so they would be going all out for the victory, knowing Bison were snapping at their heels, in the League standings.
Still missing from the Bison line-up, were Ollie Stone, Ryan Sutton & Dan Weller-Evans.
The puck dropped for the first period and it was a frantic, but great start for the Bison. Knights Captain Sam Zajac, drew a penalty, but with Bison allowed to continue, they played on. Liam Morris shifted the puck to the right point and Brendan Baird unleashed a shot on goal, which George Norcliffe managed to tip the puck, past Gospel in the Knights net. Goal timed at only 47 seconds on the clock.
Bison came out flying again and Gospel was forced into big saves, from Doughty and Alex Roberts. Up the other end, Alex Mettam made equally good saves, to deny Brandon Whistle & Kieron Brown.
A few moments later and there was a call on Adam Jones, for High Sticks. After the whistle had blown, there were a few afters, which saw Zajac & Jones exchange blows (5min Fighting pen each) and also saw Leeds player Cole Shudra, pick up a Slashing call …. All penalties were timed at 7.02.
A minute later and it would be the visitors that took a surprising, but very welcome two goal lead. The puck was fired around the boards, Gospel went behind the net to stop it, but as he played it to a teammate, the puck was intercepted by Adam Harding and in the blink of an eye, he spun around in one movement and slotted the puck past Gospel for an unassisted goal (8.36). It was a thing of beauty..
Both netminders were still making crucial saves and at 13.44, Sam Zajac was given an Interference call, which gave the Bison another good opportunity to extend their lead.
Unfortunately, the Knights Penalty Killers would kill the penalty and return to full strength.
Then, Leeds managed to break Mettam’s shut out. Archie Hazeldene (Whistle, Barnes) getting a shot on goal, which appeared to take a big deflection off a body of a player in front of net and it wrong footed Mettam & ended up in the net (16.35).
We entered the final minute of the period and Knights picked up another penalty. This time it was Kieran Brown, with a Slashing call (19.39). From the resulting few seconds left in the period, Norcliffe almost added another goal for the visitors, but he was denied by an absolute incredible save by Gospel.
The clock ran down and at the first break, Bison led 2-1. Gospel faced 14 shots & Mettam faced 15 shots.
The Bison started the 2nd period with 1.39 still remaining from Brown’s penalty. They tried hard, but couldn’t find the net, so Leeds returned to full strength.
Bison would however score from a face off in the Knights zone. Alex Roberts appeared to win the face off and slotted a pass across to Zack Milton (24.38), who fired the puck past a sprawling Sam Gospel. Ashley Tait was also awarded an assist, but I don’t recall him touching the puck… so I’ll put it down as a “Tony Hand assist” for those of you who know what I’m on about… lol.
This goal gave the Bison a strong two goal advantage, but as anyone knows, it’s classed as the worst lead on sports… and so it proved, as first, Jay King was penalised for Slashing (26.21) & he was quickly followed into the penalty box, by Adam Jones (26.36) for Hooking .
With a good chunk of time on a two man advantage, Leeds brought out their top Powerplay line, to find a much needed goal. It only took 16secs, as Zajac & Whistle combined to find Kieran Brown, stood all alone at the back door and he fired the puck high into the net past Mettsy (26.52) for a powerplay marker.
This put Bison back to 4 skaters, so Knights still had more PP time to try and tie the game. Thankfully, Bison would see off the other penalty successfully and returned to full strength.
Jay King would again take another trip to the sinbin, when he picked up another Slashing call (36.04)…… but as before the Bison penalty killers stood firm and managed to clear the puck, whenever the chance arose.
Then there was a missed call by the officials, when Adam Harding was caught by a high stick and it actually drew blood. Adam protested his case as he skated off, by no call as made. A few seconds later though and Knights Ben Solder, was given a High Sticks call … the Bison bench were still quite vocal about the previous incident a few seconds earlier and obviously the ref had clearly heard enough, as he handed an Unsportsmanlike Penalty to the Bison Bench, at the same time (39.05). No further goals were added, so at the 2nd interval, Bison skated in, still with a slender one goal lead. Gospel faced 14 shots again, but Mettam only faced 10 shots this period.
Into the 3rd period and there was still 1.05 remaining on the penalties, so both teams started the period, with only 4 skaters. Neither team could find the net and both teams returned to full strength.
Then a move out of the Bison zone by Brendan Baird and his pass found George Norcliffe, who in turn found Aidan Doughty free on the left wing. Doughty skated in and ripped a shot, high into the net over Gospels blocker and gave the travelling Bison fans great delight… restoring the two goal advantage again (44.32). But, within a minute, Leeds replied again. Harry Gulliver finding Cole Shudra and he skated in a got a good shot off, which Mettam got a piece of, but the puck lay free to the side of Mettsy’s net.
A scramble broke out to get anything on the puck. A couple of guys swing theirs sticks and missed, but Sammy Zajac, who had followed the play in, managed to get enough on the puck and force it over the line (45.22). It was back to a one goal game and Leeds were beginning to turn up the heat on the Bison net. Chance after chance went begging… Shudra, Brown & Whistle all had good attempts at goal, but the shots went either too high, slightly wide or Mettam managed to get something on the puck.
Into the last 10mins now and it was pretty much all Knights making the plays. Bison made a few of their own, but the play seemed to break down at that crucial moment and the chance went begging.
Time was running down for Leeds. Again, they just couldn’t find that killer pass. Bison then received a little relief, when Shudra was called for Clipping (56.22), when he caught Adam Harding, as he skated into the Knights zone. Thankfully, no damage was done to Harding, as it looked a nasty hit.
Bison sent out the top PP line again to try and get another goal, that would most probably seal the game. But, a few seconds into the powerplay, Zack Milton was called for Roughing (57.05) and that would negate the man advantage.
Down to the final 2 minutes and now the Knights would throw everything at the Bison net. Leeds returned to full strength and their efforts were relentless… could Bison hold on, or would Leeds get a goal, to send it into overtime… another Leeds foray forward, this time Mettam made the save and play stopped. With the face off in the Bison zone, Leeds called their 30sec Time Out.
With 25secs (1.20 on game clock) still left on Milton’s penalty, Knights decided to go for broke, pulling Gospel for the extra attacker. Now 6-on-4 in favour of the Knights, all Bison had to do was win a face off, clear the zone … or if they could, fire the puck down the ice, into the empty net.. a chance happened almost instantly… Harding picking the puck up and he fired it down the ice, but it agonisingly hit the post and went to safety. Knights came strong again.. another save by Mettam, keeping the guys in it.
Aidan Doughty was next to fire the puck down the ice, but it went wide and an icing was called. Now only a few seconds remained. Leeds won the face off and frantically passed the puck around, trying to find a good shooting lane, but Bison’s defence stood solid and as they cleared the zone again, the last couple of seconds ran down and the buzzer sounded, to end an absolutely enthralling match.
It was such a great effort by all the guys, each playing their part, in this fully deserved victory, over a very strong opponent. A victory and another very welcome 4pt Weekend for Ash and his team.
This resulted in the Bison moving above the Knights on the table. It certainly made the journey home, a lot sweeter !!
Knights : Zajac 1+1, Brown 1+0, Hazeldine 1+0, Whistle 0+2, Barnes 0+1, Gulliver 0+1, Shudra 0+1.
Nets : Gospel 35/4 (88.57%)
Bison : Doughty 2+0, Harding 1+0, Milton 1+0, Baird 0+2, Morris 0+1, Norcliffe 0+1, Roberts 0+1, Tait 0+1.
Nets : Mettam 38/3 (92.11%)
Shots on Goal : Knights 38 Bison 35
Penalties (PiMs) : Knights 15 Bison 17
Man of the Match :
Knights : Sam Zajac
Bison : Alex Mettam
Next weekend, Bison face another tough weekend, with big rivals, the Bees visiting the Bison Arena on Saturday.
Tickets for next Saturday’s game versus the Bees are available to book in advance online by clicking here, its sure to be a popular game so we would advise all fans to purchase their tickets ASAP.
On Sunday we head up to Peterborough for what will certainly be another very tough road trip, but I’m thoroughly looking forward to it !!