The Bracknell Bees headed along the M3 to Basingstoke to take on their local rivals the Bison for a regular season English Premier League & Cup match.
The Bees went into the game missing Scott Spearing whilst the Bison were missing Vanya Antonov. Alex Mettam got the nod for the Bees along with Tomas Hiadlovsky for the Bison. Referee Dave Cloutman took charge of the match with Amy Lack and Andrew Cook on the lines.
The match started at a fast pace with end to end play and early chances at both ends of the ice with both Alex Mettam and Tomas Hiadlovsky having to be alert to keep the score line blank however it would be the home side who would break the deadlock with Shaun Thompson firing a wrist shot from a tight angle past Alex Mettam at his near post with just over three and a half minutes gone. The Bees found a reply only thirty-one seconds later as Alex Barker and Luka Basic combined well with the Slovenian forward finishing well. A shot from Stuart Mogg was tipped in front of the Bees net by Shaun Thompson but tip sailed narrowly wide before James Galazzi created himself a chance in close but Tomas Hiadlovsky was equal to it. The Bees had been on the front foot but a hooking penalty to Krystof Kafan with a little over nine minutes on the clock handed the Bison a power play. The Bees dug in well and saw off the man advantage with Alex Mettam pulling off a good double save. A further penalty to the Bees, this time on Lukas Smital for slashing, gave the home side another chance on the power play and this time they would convert. The Hampshire side first came close as Shaun Thompson again tried to tip a shot from distance past Alex Mettam but he did well to save the effort. A scramble in front of the Bees net saw a shot hit the crossbar and drop into the goal crease where it was forced into the net giving the Bison the lead. Alex Mettam was hurt in the scramble and took a moment to gather himself but was OK to continue. Things got worse for the travelling Bees as the Bison extended their lead less than a minute later as Shaun Thompson netted his second goal of the evening. The Bees had a late power play chance of their own as Thompson headed off the ice on a hooking call. Martin Palvicek let fly with a long range effort that Tomas Hiadlovsky had to do well to pad save as the Bees pressed looking to narrow the lead and keeping up the pressure as the period ended.
The Bees needed to narrow the lead early and started the second period at pace with Harvey Stead and Martin Pavlicek trying their luck from distance but it would be the home side that would extend their lead further as Alan Lack pounced on a rebound to poke the puck past Alex Mettam in the Bees net. Buoyed by the goal the Bison piled on the pressure but the Bees, to their credit, battled hard and created some good chances of their own with Alex Barker, Lukas Basic and Krystof Kafan all coming close as the Bees looked to narrow the lead. As the play swung from end to end Bees defenceman David Gaborcik cleared the puck but was adjudged to have fired it straight over the glass and was handed a delay of the game penalty. The Bees dug in once more and were doing well to see off the penalty and a high sticks penalty on Aaron Connolly evened things up for thirty seconds before the Bees had just over a minute of power play opportunity. Alex Barker narrowly missed a centering pass from Krystof Kafan in front of the Bison net and Lukas Basic fired a shot just over the Bison crossbar before the sides returned to five on five hockey. The game was moving at a fast pace and Krystof Kafan forced a kick save from Tomas Hiadlovsky. Alex Mettam denied the Bison again on the breakaway but couldn’t stop a Ciaran Long wrap around goal with less than two minutes remaining in the period – the goal gave the Bison a four goal lead heading into the second period break.
The Bees started the final stanza with a lot of early pressure on the Bison. Carl Thompson fired an effort agonisingly wide, Alex Barker and David Gaborcik combined well but couldn’t find the finish needed and James Galazzi had a chance in close saved too. The home side soaked up the pressure well and a breakaway goal for Matt Towalski would extend the Bison lead further once more. A further two goals for the home side in the next three minutes sealed the result for the Hampshire side. Shaun Thompson netted his hat-trick goal as he tipped a shot past Alex Mettam and Tomas Karpov finished the scoring for the evening shortly after. With the result no longer in doubt the Bees could have given been forgiven for seeing out the remainder of the game quietly but they didn’t give up and pressed forward looking for what would have been consolation goals. James Galazzi, Carl Thompson and David Gaborcik all forced saves from Hiadlovksy in the dying minutes as the Bees finished the game on the front foot.
Man of the match awards went to Bees defenceman Josh Tetlow and Shaun Thomson for the home side Bison.
Period scores: 3-1, 2-0, 3-0
Bison scorers: Thompson 3+0; Long 1+2; Karpov & Davies 1+1; Towalski & Lack 1+0; Reynolds, Polodna & Mogg 0+2; Lackey & Baird 0+1
Bees scorers: Basic 1+0; Barker & Galazzi 0+1
Bison PIMS: 4 (Thompson & Connolly 2)
Bees PIMS: 6 (Smital, Kafan & Gaborcik 2)
Shots on Bison (Hiadlovsky): 20 (6, 9, 5)
Shots on Bees (Mettam): 33 (11, 14, 8)