Bison 2 Telford Tigers 5
Last night we welcomed the Telford Tigers for the second game in this season’s NIHL Cup. The Tigers seem to have Bison’s number at Planet Ice with 2 wins out of 3 last season. Once again they came out tops and, once again, Jason Silverthorn was the fly in the Bison ointment with a 2 + 2 game, as I shall relate, dear reader, so pray read on.
The game opened and it didn’t take Bison long to snatch the lead. 3 minutes in fact. The execution of the move would have impressed even Madame Guillotine. One of the Antonov twins burst forward and fed the Bouncing Czech, Jaroslav Cesky on the right wing. The Czech chap chucked the puck across the crease and there was Elliott Dewey, as opposed to Dick Dewy (see footnote), to deflect the puck past a hapless Dennis Bell in the Tigers’ net. 1-0 Bison.
Things went from good to even better on 10 minutes (that is before they went from bad to even worse to downright depressing – but I jump ahead, dear reader). Let’s enjoy the good bit first. On 12 minutes a defensive blunder, as cataclysmic a disaster as the fall of Rome (OK I’m exaggerating a bit), occurred. A Telford giveaway (there weren’t many of those) saw Cesky seize possession of the puck and pick out Antonov. Was it Vanya who had assisted in the first goal or his twin Ivan? I don’t know, but it didn’t matter because he drove the puck through the goaltender’s 5-hole. Alas for Bell, whereas he had previously been merely hapless he now became very hapless, but by the end of the game he was decidedly unhapless, as I shall relate. Never mind that it was now 2-0 Bison and cruising. What could possibly go wrong?
On 13:05 Paul Petts, not to be confused with Paul Potts, operatic tenor from Bristol, who is someone completely different (I think) held someone and was consequently held in the penalty box. Alas not for long as the Tigers hammered home their power play advantage. Rick Plant planted a pass to Silverthorn, who speared a cross ice pass to the man over all alone at the back door. Who was it? Alas it was former Bison favourite Joe Miller and he showed no mercy (why should he?). He thwacked the puck past Dean Skinns. 2-1 Bison. Bah!
Not content with merely pulling one back the Tigers levelled it with only 12 seconds remaining in the period. Adam Taylor put Silverthorn away. It has to be said that the Bison defense on this occasion looked barely more mobile than Lot’s wife. Could Silverthorn prove to be the grit in Bison’s Vaseline? He went clear, unopposed, unbridled and unfettered and undressed Dean Skinns. Not literally of course – that would have been an outrage to public decency, not to mention a criminal offence. No-one was quite sure how he had got the puck past Deano, but it seemed to go in without Silverthorn actually shooting. It mattered not a jot as over the line went the puck, on came the goal light and there was Mr. Matthews pointing goalwards flathandedly (that can’t be a real word surely?). It would be easy to criticise Deano for letting this one in, but sometimes a goaltender is foxed by the movement of the player and, without the benefit of Bison TV, we cannot be sure what happened. However, I am certain Deano was as embarrassed as a man whose wig is snatched off his head by a seagull, carried off and eaten. 2-2. Oh Lordy!
We moved into P2 and the Bison backers wished we hadn’t. The Tigers owned the period. They outplayed, outshot and outscored Bison and caught their hosts on the hop, out to lunch, with their trousers down and flies undone with another power play goal. Paul Petts once again had his collar felt, this time for hooking. Down the steps he went and within a minute we had witnessed another defensive fiasco. OK the Bison D had found themselves up against it, up a gum tree and up the creek without a paddle, defending the power play, but it seemed so easy as the Tigers worked a spare man in front of goal, who beat a hung out to dry Deano. The scorer was Jack Watkins and his confederates were identified as Silverthorn and Miller. 3-2 Tigers. Flamin’ Nora.
We needed a very different Bison in P3 if they were to come back to win the game. They had to up the ante, up the stakes and go up up and away. Alas the only thing which went up was the number on the scoreboard under “Visitors”. They bagged 2 more goals from only 5 shots on target, while Bison continued to fire pucks straight at Bell, which he engulfed like a giant amoeba. The end result was that the young goaltender ended the game with a save percentage of 94.74 and the Top Banana award. But had he been that good? Not in my view. Bison once again failed to find the gaps between netman and goal frame, whilst at the other end the Tigers did just that. But as usual I jump ahead. Let’s go back to the 47th minute.
Jonathan Weaver weaved a pass to Rick Plant, who planted a shot on Skinns which was saved. Alas the rebound went straight to a marauding Adam Taylor, all alone in front of goal. Had the Bison netman possessed the physical form of Pavarotti, he would have had a chance of blocking the goal completely. But he did not. (Neither could he sing operatic tenor, although Paul Petts can – or is that Pol Pot who does that? I am not sure). Taylor snapped the puck home and it was a depressing 4-2 Tigers. Drat, drat and double drat, as Dick Dastardly might have said.
But all was not lost …. yet. There was still plenty of time to pull the game back and, as we know, a 2 goal winning margin can be lost in the blink of an eye. A rock balancing sculpture (see below) can be brought down by a gust of wind. In this case, however, neither occurred. In fact the Tigers put the lid on proceedings with another goal. Eton Mess – a combination of strawberries, meringue and cream. Scrummy. What we saw on 52:59 was a mess of a totally different variety – a defensive mess. Once again the Tigers ended up with a man over. Silverthorn, all alone at the back door, received a cross ice pass from Plant, who seemed to have taken root in the Bison defensive zone. It was an over the shoulder number from Silverthorn as he lifted the puck over the by now very hapless Bison goaltender and into the net. There was an explosion of exuberance behind the goal as the travelling Tigers’ fans (all 8 of them) tried but failed to fill Planet Ice with noise. It was 5-2 Tigers. Oh hell’s bells and buckets of blood. It was enough to make you flip your wig. The Bison wigwam had truly gone up in flames.
By now the Bison backers had decided that the cup wasn’t worth winning. I have not seen a picture of said cup and, in fact, it probably doesn’t even exist yet, but I am sure it is or will be a gaudy pot, badly crafted and not big enough to hold a boiled egg. What do you mean sour grapes? All that remained to round off the evening’s proceedings was to elect the Top Bananas. Silverthorn was deserving of the accolade with a 2 + 2 evening, but instead the amoebic Dennis Bell took the beers and, once again, the Antonov twins were elected suitable candidates to take the Bison award.
It was nice to see Joe Miller get a good ovation from the Bison fans at the skate past, as he always does. I wish the loutish Tigers’ fans, who thankfully never make the journey south, could have seen that splendid sporting gesture. They might have learned a thing or two. But hey! Let’s not get heavy. We will leave those oiky people to ferment in their own juices of animosity and say no more.
Footnote : Dick Dewy was the hero of Thomas Hardy’s novel “Under the Greenwood Tree” published in 1872. It’s the nearest Hardy gets to a comedy. His books are literary masterpieces, but rather depressing as all the central characters die – sorry I’ve given all the plots away. By the way don’t confuse Thomas Hardy with Thomas Hardy (the famous Trafalgar captain who Nelson wanted to kiss) or indeed Tom Hardy the actor. That's him below. Looks jolly doesn't he? Perhaps he's a Bison fan.