Sunday, 2 April 2017

Lock Up Your Daughters Coventry - Bison Are Coming

Bison 3 Milton Keynes Lightning 2

Bison clinched their playoff place with a win over MK last night at Planet Ice. With 3 wins out of 4, they needed a solitary point to be sure of a trip to Coventry. MK will also be there, having qualified by winning their game 4 in midweek. Hero and villain for the Lightning last night was goaltender Przemyslaw Odrobny. Although resembling a homeless man (in fact I am and sure I have seen him in Winchester selling “The Big Issue”), he has proved a top import goaltender this season with a save percentage is 93.3%. He won MK’s MoM award last night, but I am sure he will not be happy about any of the three goals he allowed. But, as usual, I jump ahead, dear reader, so let us return to the beginning of the game.

P1 opened in frantic fashion with both goaltenders pulling off several saves each in the opening 3 or 4 minutes. The best chance fell to MK’s Antti Hölli, who rippled the net with a wrist shot. He thought he had scored, as did the travelling MK fans. They all suddenly became elevated into a previously unattained level of nirvana, but alas their ecstasy was to be short lived and indeed proved misplaced, as was Hölli’s shot. It had passed outside the post and disturbed the side of the net. No goal.

The game progressed with chances at both ends and goaltenders Hiadlovsky and Odrobny proving no slouches. The latter seemed to be giving up so many rebounds we wondered if he had turned into the India rubber man, subject of the famous poem. Hiadlovsky was proving more effective with his amoebic engulfment of the puck technique. It would be MK, however, who would find a way past Hiadlovsky first. This occurred on 17:07. Set up by Martin Baranyk and Lewis Christie, Blaz Emersic picked his spot and whipped a wrist shot in at Hiadlo’s left hand post. The Bison netman was furious. Perhaps not as furious as Furious Pete Czerwinski (Who? See footnote) and pursued Referee Matthews complaining that there was an MK player in the crease. He felt that even Stevie Wonder could have seen that, but Mr Matthews had not and the goal stood. 1-0 MK.

There were no more goals in the period. P2 opened and it was to prove a steamrollering period for Bison, who surged into a 3-1 lead. The first and equalising score came on 22:57. A mazy, surging burst forward by one of the Antonov twins (Vanya I think or was it Ivan?) took him behind the net. He fired the puck netwards as he skated past. The puck deflected off the rubber Odrobny and there on the doorstep was Shoeless Joe Miller. On this occasion the MK defending was mismanaged, mishandled, miscalculated and miscarried or to put it purely and simply, mucked up, as there was Miller all alone without a challenge. He slammed the puck past Odrobny and it was 1-1.

5 minutes later Odrobny was to suffer embarrassment of the most dreadful variety. His chunderous attempt to stop Bison’s second goal was a failure, flop, fiasco and faux pas. Not to put too fine a point on it, he committed an error so cataclysmic in magnitude that he must have suffered feelings of abject ignominy and chagrinous mortification. Read on, dear reader and I shall tell you why.

A move involving Rabbit’s Foot Joe Baird and René Jarolin ended up with Joe Miller behind the goal. Suddenly the goal light went on. I must confess I didn’t see what had happened. Surely from there Joe’s only option was to stealthily lift the net and sweep the puck in from the rear, like you would lift he corner of a rug and sweep the dust under, and hope that his surreptitiousness (yes that is a real word) went unnoticed by officialdom. But no. That is not what happened. Cake Lady, a close observer of the incident, said that Joe attempted to rebound the puck in off the rubber Odrobny. The giant Pole stopped the puck with his giant pole, but alas he then moved the aforementioned giant pole and sent the puck backwards, not forwards, a direction Odrobny would have preferred, and across the line, albeit very slowly, possibly even through  the hapless goaltender’s legs. Had he 5-holed himself? Alas only Bison TV could have confirmed that but, very sadly, we no longer have that wonderful facility. 2-1 Bison.

Soon after it was 3-1 Bison and Odbrobny’s latex-esque properties proved to be his undoing. An MK player (sorry I don’t know who) fired the puck around the boards from behind the goal. It was stopped on the blue line by (I thought it was Balmer, but Baird and Reynolds received assists so maybe it wasn’t). He (Balmer, Baird or Reynolds or maybe it was all of them) whipped a shot goalwards and there was Lumberjack Joe Rand all alone in front of the net. 17th century chemists, not of the Boots variety that is, believed that combustible materials contained a fire like substance called phlogiston. If you Google "Phlogiston", Amazon claim not only to sell the stuff but also offer low prices on it. Poppycock! It doesn’t now and never has existed. In a similar vein the MK defence, although thought to exist, actually didn't and Rand was able to thwack his shot goalwards without a challenge. The rubberoid (OK that’s not a real word) Odrobny saved it, but the puck went straight back to Rand who lifted it over the giant pole waving giant Pole’s shoulder. 3-1 Bison and the concession of yet another goal must have made the travelling MK contingent feel depressed, distressed, dejected, disconsolate, dolorous, downcast and even demented. 1-0 to 1-3 was not a scenario likely to elicit joy and happiness in that quarter. 

 Apologies for gone wrong formatting here......

And so we moved into P3 with MK needing to get back on track preferably with an early goal. This they failed to achieve, but did put themselves back in with a shout in the 52nd minute. It started with Mikolaj Lopuski doing something that Dan Scott considered unsporting. I am not sure what that was, but it caused Scott to barge into Lopuski with violent intent.  Had he been William Shakespeare he might have said, “Pepareth to square! I shall heave the gorge on thy living, thee vile mushrump (Prepare to fight! I will vomit on your possessions, you vile mushroom!). Lopuski, being Polish, would not have understood a word, of course. However, he clearly comprehended Scott’s invitation to engage in pugilistic activities, but decided not to accept it. Had he done so we might have seen a scene similar to this. 

 But we didn’t, so it was only Scott who was sent down the steps for roughing. MK now had 2 minutes (or the time it would take  Furious Pete Czerwinski to eat 17 bananas – see footnote) to bag a goal. They need only 9 seconds (by which time Furious Pete would have been just finishing his third banana) to bring it back to a one goal game. Slick passing between Jordan Cownie and James Neil set up Antti Hölli, as opposed to Buddy Holly, who is someone completely different (see below in case you have never heard off Buddy). He whipped a wrist shot netwardsly and in it went through a screen of players. 3-2 Bison.

 MK frantically pressed forward for an ever elusive equalising score, but couldn’t find a way past Hiadlovsky. They didn’t even get the opportunity to pull Odrobny for a final throw of the dice 6 on 5. The final buzzer sounded and it was curtains MK, but, having already qualified for Coventry, they were probably not too upset. Odrobny and Miller were appointed Top Bananas for their respective teams.  

Footnote : Furious Pete Czerwinski is a Canadian competitive eater. He currently holds nine Guinness world records including that for eating a whole raw onion in 43.53 seconds, 17 bananas in 2 minutes, 15 hamburgers in 10 minutes, and 17 jaffa cakes in 60 seconds. He once ate 5 hard boiled eggs, 3 pieces of bacon, 2 bananas, and drank a bag of milk all in 51 seconds.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Lazarus Style Bison Power Past Wilting Cats

Bison 4 Swindon Wildcats 2

No dead rubber was this. An astonishing 6-5 overtime win in Swindon on Saturday night hauled Bison in 3rd place in the EPL. A win against the same feline opponents on home ice would secure that placing and give Bison a potentially easier play off group, avoiding the Telford Tigers and the Guildford Flames, both of whom Bison have struggled to get the better of this season. The homesters cracked it, but no cake walk was this and it was only in the second half of the game (OK I know hockey is a game of 3 periods, but this truly was a game of 2 halves) that they finally managed to rattle in the goals to secure the win, as I shall relate, dear reader.

P1 opened and it was not long before the scoreboard clicked from Visitors 0 to Visitors 1. Bison 0 stayed on Bison 0. On 5:49 Stephen Whitfield set up Robin Kovar for a shot. Tomas Hiadovsky saved with his pad but the puck went straight to Maxim Birbraer, who drove it in without further ado. 1-0 Cats.

The Cats went further ahead on 10:38, thanks to a calamitous and indeed chunderous error by the hapless Hiadlovsky. Harvesting the puck behind his net, he shot the puck out, but it went straight to Birbraer, who rifled it into the empty net. Since time immemorial bluesmen have been singing the line “Going down to the station, catch the fastest train I see”. Such was the embarrassment of Hiadlo for perpetrating such a ghastly error that was exactly what he might have wanted to do in order to convey himself away from the scene of his ignominy. 2-0 Cats and an uphill struggle for Bison. The doubters, the deprecators, the depressed, the disconsolate, the disillusioned and the downright deranged (some may have qualified on all six counts) began to sink slowly into their oozing, slimy quagmire of pessimism. Surely it was curtains for Bison.

There were no more goals in the period and away went the Bison players to the locker room to what may have been a roasting from Coach Sheppard. They needed to step up a gear and fire in more quality shots. But, as the second period wore on (I forgot to mention that it had started), the Cats were proving an awesome obstacle. Bison attempts to crack their concerted concrete curtain were being counteracted, circumvented, conquered and cancelled out. More than half the game had gone and still Bison could not find a way past Stonewall Stevie Lyle. But all that was about to change.

In the 36th minute the puck became trapped on the boards behind the Cats’ goal, not once but twice. Eventually Lumberjack Joe Rand managed to grind it out and feed René Jarolin, who snapped a pass to the top of the crease. And there in front of goal all on his tod (on his what? See footnote) was Aaron “Billy” Connolly, who thwacked the puck past a startled Stevie Lyle. According to Little Richard (that’s him below) “from the early, early mornin' till the early, early night you can see Miss Molly rockin' at the house of blue light.” When Connolly’s shot hit the net we saw a light. It wasn’t blue, however, it was red – the goal light. Good Golly! 2-1.

 Bison tails were up. A goal at last and surely more were to follow. Yes they were. On 44:32 Tomas “Grandmaster” Karpov glided around the back of the net and emerged at the back door with no-one guarding it. His attempt to slip the puck past Lyle failed, but the hapless netman could merely block but not freeze or clear the puck and there was Rand lurking in front of the net. He forced the puck over the line. 2-2. 

Rand’s dirty goal, the latest in a long line of many similar he has scored, was a hooray-hotdog-hallelujah moment for Bison. From 0-2 to 2-2 and the initiative in the game seized back, could they go on from here to take the victory which would guarantee them 3rd place in the league? They could, bagging a third goal 4 minutes later. In 1995 Tracey Emin created a “work of art” entitled “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995”. It was a tent with 102 names sewn to the inside. Charles Saatchi paid £40,000 for it. It was destroyed by fire in 2004. Hurrah! Bison’s go ahead goal was a work of art infinitely better than Emin’s wretched tent. However, I jumped ahead. Let us return to the 47th minute. Oliver Stone slashed and, although Referee Szuchs may have wanted to turn him to stone as punishment, he couldn’t, so he sent him “up the river”, not to a place they call Sing Sing, but instead to the penalty box. A minute into the resultant power play saw Karpov surging over the blue line and passing inside to Desperate Dan Davies. Instead of shooting, as Lyle was expecting, Davies fired a pass in a westerly direction to long Ciaron Long, who hammered a shot into the wide open net past a stranded Lyle. It was a wonderfully executed move, the artistry of which might have impressed even Tracey Emin. 3-2 Bison.

The game ground onwards towards the desired outcome for Bison, but there were not over the line yet. The Cats were becoming as desperate as a heroin addict in need of a fix. They needed to find their goal scoring touch once more, but were finding a Berlin wall-esque Bison giving nothing away and they hadn’t scored for 46 minutes of playing time. Time to throw caution windward as opposed to the towel in. Within just under 2 minutes left the Cats called a time out. Lyle was pulled from the net and on came 6 skaters for the restart. The visitors had to keep it tight. To lose possession of the puck would have been as undesirable as the Bearded Rabble Rouser of Block A returning home to find his eccentric butler using his priceless antique diamond and pearl encrusted tie pin to spear slugs in the cabbage patch. Alas for the visitors exactly that happened. That is they lost the puck. The latter scenario may also have occurred, but only the Rabble Rouser can tell us. Within seconds the Cats had lost possession to Long, who passed to Dangerous Derek Roehl on the left wing. He had no clear sight of goal, but moved forward, as the Cats D desperately backpedalled. Big D picked his spot and drove the puck into the net formerly but no longer occupied by Lyle. The crowd bubbled over like an overheated saucepan of goat vindaloo. Don’t they just love an empty netter? 4-2 Bison.

Lyle returned and the game was played out. The final buzzer sounded and that was it. The fat lady was shattering crystal glasses with her high pitched notes. She could have achieved the same outcome by merely sitting on them. Lyle at least had the consolation of being named the Cats’ Top Banana. The Bison award went to Karpov. Regular season over. Bring on the play offs.

Footnote : the expression on your tod is cockney rhyming slang. On your Tod Sloan - on your own. In 1897 Lord William Beresford, who won the Victoria Cross during the Zulu war of 1879, brought over an American jockey called Tod Sloan (that's him below) to race for his stable. Sloan was responsible for the short stirrup style of riding being adopted in this country.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Rand Double Douses the Flames on Night of Opprobrious Violence

Bison 4 Guildford Flames 2

A cracking competitive encounter punctuated by unmentionable, uncontainable, uncontrollable and indeed uncondonable violence of the most virulent variety marked what could well be the last competitive game between old rivals the Bison and the Flames. With the Flames rising to the lofty heights of the Elite League next season, albeit not quite in a “cream rising to the top” manner, 8 years of robust EPL rivalry came to an end last night. There was something for everyone here – the purist, the admirer of fine skating and movement and, of course, the blood lust brigade. If this was indeed the last competitive Bison v Flames game, what better way to finish that rivalry. 

P1 opened and Bison surged into the lead on 4:33 with an unassisted goal from Lumberjack Joe Rand. It was the equivalent of a card trick, but in this case achieved with skate and stick. Blocking a pass out of defence on the blue line, Rand muscled his way through the Flames’ defense as easily as Mike Tyson would push through a crowd of 7 stone weaklings. In doing so he moved away from the boards to a position in front of the crease, bamboozled Dean Skinns in the Flames’ net and backhanded across the line. A superb unassisted goal created and scored on the back of “never say die” determination. 1-0 Bison. 

There were no more goals in a very even period, but we had a taste of pugilistic things to come when there was a bundle behind the net, the result of which was Kurt “The Scissors” Reynolds and Tuomas Santavuori having 2 minutes roughing penalties slapped on them. 

And so we passed into P2, which proved highly eventful, but not as eventful as the occurrences at the end of P3. But I jump ahead, dear reader, so let us return to P2. It wasn’t long before the Flames found themselves on level terms with a short handed goal, gift wrapped, tired with a ribbon and with a cherry on top. With Kari Sihvonen in the bag for cross checking, Tomas Hiadlovsky came out of his goal to harvest a wayward puck in the corner. He then attempted one of his characteristic long passes out of defence, but, much to his very grave chagrin, the puck went straight to Michal Satek. By the time the Slovak had got the puck properly under control a D-man was back to cover the empty net. Had that D-man been as voluminous as Fatty Foulke, former Chelsea and England goalkeeper (a serious professional athlete of his time - see below) he could have blocked the goal completely. But he wasn’t and Satek was able to pick his spot and rifle the puck home. Hiadlo must have been as embarrassed as a man whose his hair piece is sucked up into a vacuum cleaner in front of his girlfriend. 1-1.

Things were on the up for the combustible visitors and they were soon to take the lead. With Dangerous Derek Roehl and Marek Maslonka already banged up, Joe Rand joined them in the slammer for high sticks on 26:53. In the ensuing 4 on 3 Jens Eriksen finished a round and round the garden move with a wrist shot past Hiadlovsky. Tuomas Santavouri and Danny Meyers, as opposed to Dan Meyer (who? See footnote) bagged assists for the goal 1-2 Flames.

But the Flames couldn’t hang on and 5 minutes later it was all square once more. Set up by Towalski, who sounds like a Russian but isn’t, and Reynolds, who doesn’t and also isn’t, Aaron “Billy” Connolly caught the puck and then appeared to skate several strides forward before throwing the puck out in front of him. It didn’t seem within the rules, but on this occasion the Bison backers were glad that Referee Cloutman seemed to be as visually impaired as Ray Charles. It was a 2 on 1 with René Jarolin in support. Had William Shakespeare been writing a match report he might have said of Connolly, “the much admir’d fellow didst speedeth artfully onward and f’rward towards the netmind'r with det'rmination to breach his def’nces”. And breach Deano’s def’nses he did, whipping a vicious wrist shot high past the hapless goaltender glove side. 2-2.

Bison tails were up and it didn’t take long for them to resnatch the lead. On 33:06 Marek Maslonka had his collar felt for cross checking. During the ensuing power play Jarolin ground the puck out from the boards, but it went straight to Kevin Phillips. Now was the time for the Flames to gift Bison a goal. Phillips, who must have had a sudden moment of hiatus in the area of his brain which deals with hand/eye co-ordination, passed straight to Desperate Dan Davies in front of goal. He outdeked Skinns and slid the puck home 5-hole. A red light came on behind the goal either. Who had illuminated it? Was it the goal judge or a lady of ill repute looking for business. The referee clearly realised it was the former as he signalled a goal rather than ask “how much?” 3-2 Bison.

And so ended the period, but not before some afters involving Declan “Barrack-O” Balmer and Andy McKinney. The two came together in a confrontational manner rather similar to the central figures in Lowry’s 1935 painting “A Fight” :

However I didn’t see McKinney trying to pull Balmer’s helmet down over his ears. Neither did I see any matchstalk dogs on the ice.

P3 opened and we saw a highly competitive period with the Flames pressing forward for a levelling score. On one occasion Phillips, having overcome his aforementioned hiatus, rang the pipes and then Santavuori, himself suffering a similar hiatus, inexplicably missed an empty net back door chance. The game moved into its final phase. It was going to be a nerve wracking final 2 or 3 minutes for the Bison backers. Or so we thought. Then the Flames blew everything. Maslonka tripped Roehl, the latter didn’t like it and decided to make his views known to the former, a few punches were thrown before the two were separated. Suddenly over the wall came Jez Lundin and expressed his disapproval of Roehl in a physical manner.  It was 2 roughing for Roehl, 2 tripping and 2 roughing for Maslonka and a 2 + 2 + game for Lundin for leaving the bench. With all those penalties it should have ended up with a Bison 5 on 3, but, as his name suggests, Mr Cloutman is the “man with the clout”, and he deemed a 5 on 4 restart appropriate. It mattered not a jot as Bison bagged the game clinching goal power play a minute later. Long Ciaron Long set up Tomas “Grandmaster” Karpov for a shot from the slot. As the shot came in Rand thrust his lumber into the path of the biscuit and redirected the rubber disc past Deano for 4-2 Bison. "I believe in miracles." So sang the late Errol Brown of Hot Chocolate. Had he been at Planet Ice last night he would have recognised it was going to take a miracle for the Flames to come back from this. They didn’t.

The entertainment was far from over, not that I would condone violence of course. Within seconds of the restart General Grant Rounding was flattened and left a prostrate and forlorn figure in front of the net. This led to a most opprobrious outbreak of violence of the most virulent variety. 10 players crowded into an angry scrum behind the Bison goal. Players postured, jostled, pushed, shoved, mouthed off and waved handbags until then it all broke loose with Balmer taking on Phillips, who then resisted the officials trying to break them apart. It cooled down, but not for long. Suddenly Balmer was fighting Sivhonen as Dan “The Specs” Lackey took on Sam Godfrey. In the meantime Dean Skinns, feeling rather lonely at the other end, skated forward over the red line to engage in a friendly conversation with his opposite number, Hiadlovsky. No I’m not being sarcastic – that’s exactly what happened. However, for crossing the red line Deano should have been chucked out of the game, but Referee Cloutman either let him off or was back in Ray Charles mode and Deano escaped censure.  Then it all died down, the blood lust of the crowd satisfied. 12 PIMs for Bison and 32 to the Flames including a game misconduct for Phillips.

10 seconds of play later and it was all over. David Savage and Lumberjack Joe Rand were appointed Top Bananas for their respective teams. And what about the Flames? They will be going up into the Elite League for 2017-8. Alas with an unconvincing mid table season and on last night’s performance they will need more or less an entirely new roster and there will be an large number of ex Flames and indeed ex Milton Keynes Lightning British players waving P45s and looking for jobs with one of only 7 of the current EPL teams remaining. We may admire the Flames’ ambition, but we should feel sorry for the players who will not be good enough to play at the higher level.

Footnote : Dan Meyer, not Danny Meyers, is a world champion sword swallower. He holds 39 world records and once swallowed a solid steel 30” sword while submerged 15 feet underwater in an 85,000 gallons tank filled with live sharks and stingrays at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He is clearly not the man who assisted in the Flames’ second goal.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Colossus Odrobny Colossal, But Not Colossal Enough

Bison 3 Milton Keynes Lightning 2

This was a must win game for the Lightning. Trailing table topping Telford Tigers by 8 points with only one game in hand, nothing short of a 2 point haul would be acceptable if they were to step up to the Elite League with the EPL title to show for their season’s efforts. Despite giving their all to a cracking competitive game, an Ooo Matron winning position for MK turned into an Oooo Betty losing one, as I shall relate, dear reader.

Things got off to a wack-o-the-diddle-o start for MK. Within 2 minutes they were ahead. Set up by Luc Johnson and James Griffin, Lewis Hook skated up the right wing, cut inside and unleashed a wrist shot past Tomas Hiadlovsky. 1-0 Lightning.

Bison came on strong, but there didn’t seem an easy way past MK’s giant Polish goaltender, Przemyslaw Odrobny, the man with the unpronounceable first name. That is until 17:15. Kurt “The Scissors” Reynolds set Ivan and Vanya Antonov charging up the left wing and across the blue line. Their netwards shot was tipped by Desperate Dan Davies. We would have liked to have seen the puck fly into the net, but Odrobny got a piece of it. Not a big enough piece, however, and the puck slid rather slowly across the line. But across the line it slid and out came Referee Matthews’ flat pointy hand, which he thrust netwards. 1-1. A massive roar emanated from the Bison blocks and threatened to multiply the problems of structural instability to the crumbling barn which is Planet Ice, Basingstoke.

Into P2 we moved. Bison stepped up a gear, but were finding Odrobny a tough nut to crack. Consider a scale of wobbliness where a Chivers jelly, a strawberry blancmange and a weeble were all factors. Bison would have preferred Odrobny to be at the top end of this scale, but he was more akin to the Berlin Wall (before it came down of course). And the defiant net minding of the giant Pole was to pay dividends for his team.

On 27 minutes Lumberjack Joe Rand took a high stick to the face. As no blood was involved, the perpetrator, Blaz Emersic, copped a 2 minute minor instead of a game penalty – curious rule that. Bison could take no advantage from the power play, but within 20 seconds of the expiry of the penalty MK were back in front. The goal was a work of art. Even the home fans’ most biased partisan, viewing the game through rose tinted glasses with a propensity for prodigious predilection for his team and suffering from a paucity of magnanimity (eh? I’m not sure I know what means myself) couldn’t help but admire the flowing move from Leigh Jamieson to Jordan Cowney to Frankie Bakrlik, who whipped a wrist shot past Hiadlovosky and it was 2-1 Lightning.

On 34:41 Lewis Christie roughed Aaron “Billy” Connolly. The dictionary defines rough as “having a coarse or uneven surface, as from projections, irregularities, or breaks”. And also “acting with or characterized by violence”. In Referee Matthews’s book the latter not the former was an accurate description of what he saw. “Oi! I’m not having that,” he said and off went Christie to the slammer for 2 minutes. It proved to be a most eventful powerplay. Early on Hook blocked a shot and the puck rebounded nicely for him. He was away and raced forward at breakneck speed. He had only Hiadlovsky to beat. He must have wished that the Slovak netman had the goal blocking capability of the waif like subject of Lowry’s “Gentleman looking at something” (what a wonderful title for a painting, eh?)

However, as he bore down on goal Hiadlo must have appeared more akin, certainly in size if not general appearance, to Sue Tilley, the model for the famous Lucien Freud painting “Benefits supervisor asleep”.

And so it proved as Hiadlo blocked Hook’s shot, more with agility than bulk it has to be said, and the score remained at 1-2. It proved to be a monumentally important save. Some might say it was the turning point of the game. Who? Me for a start. Why? You will see.

The power play continued and Bison piled on the pressure, playing the puck around and raining in shots on the MK goal. Were it not for the fact that no Latvian anarchists, police, army and Winston Churchill were involved, you could say it was getting like the siege Sidney Street 1911 (Where? See below). Eventually Lightning’s resistance cracked. Set up by Shoeless Joe Miller, Dangerous Derek Roehl sent an unstoppable wrist shot through a crowd and past Odrobny catcher side. The net rippled, on came the red light, out came Mr. Matthews’s flat pointy hand for the 4th time in the game. The goaltender couldn’t have been happy, but he couldn’t stop what he couldn’t see. He may have said “Oh botheration” or the Polish equivalent or perhaps something stronger. 2-2.

As the period drew to a close, an unsavoury incident most atrabilious in nature occurred behind the Bison net. Frankie “Bad News” Bakrlik hammered into the head of Declan “Barrack-O” Balmer and sent him to the ice in a crumpled heap. The crowd were incensed. Some shouted “Bring back hanging!”, whilst others, possessed of a more realistic understanding of the punishments available to the officials, exhorted “Give him a game!” The Howling Man was particularly vociferous. In a characteristically incomprehensible manner he delivered his anguished diatribe of protestation at full volume. What he shouted, however, was typically incomprehensible. Referee Matthews slapped a 2 + 10 onto Frankie (that’s 150 PIMs for the season for him) and those who wanted to throw a rope over a tree branch in the Planet Ice car park calmed down at least for a moment. But then the blood lust of the Bison crowd rose again as Balmer threatened the MK bench (or rather those on it) when he eventually got back to the Bison bench and it looked as if there might be some afters, but this proved not to be the case. 

And so into the final period we moved.  Bison had outshot Lightning by 30-17 in the first two periods, but the colossal colossus Odrobny was proving obstacular (OK I made that word up) in keeping his team in with a chance of the victory. In particular he was blocking everything low, which prompted the Man with 3 Ear-Rings to say that Bison had to get the shots to lift to beat the Goliath-esque netman. And so it proved, which made me think that he, unlike myself, might know something about hockey.

The clocked ticked close to the 5 minutes to go mark and the game was on a knife edge, like the coach at the end of “The Italian Job”. Which way would it go? Another MK move broke down and suddenly Bison were away. Balmer to Antonov to Long, who skated forward with a clear sight of goal. Martin Luther King very famously had a dream. As Long Ciaron approached, Odrobny also had a dream. It was dream that he could prevent a goal. Such proved to be nothing more than a pipe dream, however, as Long Ciaron suddenly let loose an unstoppable wrist shot from wide to the goaltender’s right. The puck flew past the Odrobny blocker and into the net. Blistering biriyanis! Bison were ahead for the first time in the game. 3-2.

With 20 seconds left Odrobny finally managed to get off the ice for a final 6 on 5. Then with only 8.5 seconds on the clock MK called a time out. As the players shaped up for the subsequent face off Bison called one. What was that all about? Whatever had been said during the MK time out was said again during the Bison timeout. I cannot imagine any new instructions were conveyed by either coach. The game restarted and Reynolds missed a long range empty net chance. That mattered not as the buzzer sounded and it was all over. 

All that remained was for the Top Bananas to be appointed. Dan Davies copped the Bison award and, unsurprisingly, Odrobny was considered the best Lightning player. A great display from him, but, alas for the giant Pole, Lightning’s hopes of winning the league title were now as good as (or as bad as) dead. Best don the black armbands and call the undertaker.