Sunday, 21 January 2018

Bison Prevail in White Knuckle Shoot Out Drama

Bison 2 Swindon Wildcats 1 (shoot out)

There are those who have bemoaned, bewailed and bellyached about this season’s hockey. Surely not? Verily there are also those, possibly the same people, who have disparagingly, deprecatingly and derogatorily denounced the quality of entertainment in the NIHL. Well such gainsayers should have been there last night (perhaps they were) to see this edge of the seat encounter between two of the heavyweight NIHL-ers, culminating in a white knuckle shoot out and a stunning game winning glove save by Dean Skinns from Aaron Nell’s penalty shot attempt. Oh dear I really have jumped ahead a trifle too far this time – to the end of the game, in fact. There is more to tell, so I invite you to read further, dear reader.

Let’s move to the 13th minute of P1. Rabbit’s Foot Joe Baird steamed into Max Birbraer and the latter crumpled to the ice. “Oi matey! You can’t do that,” said Referee Matthews and he was right. 2 minutes in the box for the cross check. This put the Cats on the power play and they made it count. The scorer was Edgars Bebris with one hell of a clapper. (As you know if you are a regular reader of this nonsense, I have trouble with players with “S” on the ends of their names – how many of Edgars Bebris are they - 2, 4?) Actually only one and it was that one who received a cross ice pass from the slot to just inside the blue line by one of the Aaron Nells (there are two of them – one coaches and the other plays) on 14:32. The Bebris stick was raised and crashed down on the ice to convert the pass into a goal attempt. The puck left the ice with the velocity of toothpaste being ejected from a tube as a ten ton weight falls on it. There did not seem to be a screen in front of Skinns, so the shot must have beaten him for sheer pace. Into the net the puck flew and it was 1-0 Cats.

There was no more scoring in the 1st, so into the 2nd we moved and it was at the half way point that Bison pulled it back to a level game. It was a power play goal with Chris Jones (as opposed to Corporal Jones or Miss Jones) banged up in the slammer for boarding both Antonov twins, Vanya and Ivan, although I must confess to being somewhat perplexed as I didn’t see either of them actually hitting the boards from Jones’ challenge. Oh well Mr. Matthews knows best. It matters not a jot for what hanging offense he was in the box. The fact is he was in the box. Let’s move on.

On the 7th of November 1974 Richard John Bingham disappeared. Who? Why Lord Lucan of course. That's him below.

What relevance has Lord Lucan to this game? Well in the middle of P2, as I have already mentioned, (30:35 gone to be precise), the Cats’ D disappeared in a similar fashion to Lord Lucan. The only differences were that in this case the homicide of nannies was not involved and also the D were seen again, but only after Bison had levelled the game. Slick out of D passing between Stuart “The Cat” Mogg and Rabbit’s Foot Joe Baird found an all alone Ryan Sutton in the neutral zone without a Cat between him and the goal. He charged forward, not in a Puffing Billy-esque manner (Puffing who? A steam locomotive from 1814 with a top speed of 5 mph - see below), but more like von Ryan’s Express (von Ryan’s what? A film from 1965 with Frank Sinatra - see below). He closed in from wide to the goaltender’s right and unleashed a snipe which clearly had the accuracy of an Agincourt archer’s arrow and the bamboozlement of a Tommy Cooper magic trick, as it flew into the net past an astonished Renny Marr. The Bison crowd voiced their appreciation. Some shouted “HURRAH!”, others “YAHOO!”, others still “BRAVO!”. I am reliably informed by Duracell Man, a taken-root incumbent of Block D, that, from his position of as near juxtaposition to the goal at that end as you can get, Sutton skated past blowing kisses to the crowd. Some may have regarded this as an outrage to public decency. 1-1 and all to play for.

1-1  it was at the sound of the buzzer to signify an end to P2 hostilities.

To say that P3 proved to be edge of the seat would be an understatement. With so much at stake neither side wanted to lose and a shot count of 8 to 5 in Bison’s favour illustrates it wasn’t gung-ho for the win. Then with 5 minutes left the Cats got a power play with Roman Malinik adjudged to have raised his stick too high. The Bespectacled Youth immediately descended into a state of pessimism as he wallowed in a cess pool of the most abject defeatism. “They'll score from this,” he said. But they didn’t. In fact, the best opportunity of a go ahead goal fell to Bison. Sam Bullas was guilty of poor puck control and then loss of balance, miscontrolling the puck in the neutral zone and then falling to the ice in a manner most ignominious as he tried to prevent the Antonov twins from taking possession. He failed and suddenly the Antonovs were in on goal and shooting. Marr saved Bullas’s blushes and blocked the shot. You owe him a beer, Sam.

Both sets of fans must have been relived when the final buzzer sounded. A point each. The usual nerve wracking experience of overtime followed with neither side breaking the deadlock. And so into the even more nerve wracking experience of a penalty shoot out. The first 2 attempts from Malinik and Jones were both saved. Desperate Dan Davies was next for Bison. His bamboozling of Marr with one of the cleverest dekes you are ever likely to see was a masterpiece worthy, had it possessed physical form, of hanging in the Tate. In the Monty Python parrot sketch the Norwegian Blue remains stationary and unanimated throughout. As the puck slid across the line from Davies’s final prod past a hopelessly floored Marr, the Bison backers behaved in a horizontally opposed manner to the aforementioned fowl. Jumping up from their seats, waving their arms in the air, shouting, kissing each other and weeping for joy, they showed their delight at Davies’s scoring of the go ahead goal.

Next up was Bebris. His shot flew high over the bar and would have reached the moon had the plexi not stopped it. Then Josh Smith had his shot saved, which left it all down to Cats’ player coach Nell, a deadly marksman if ever there was one. He had to score. Once again the Bespectacled Youth descended into a state of funereal pessimism. “He’ll score,” said he. But he was wrong. Nell’s attempt to find the top corner of the net failed as Skinns threw out a gloved hand, like a frog with a long sticky tongue going for a fly, and deflected the puck away. The noise which greeted the goal might have led you to believe that Krakatoa had erupted again (see footnote). Game over. Bison win.

Top Bananas were elected. Bebris for the Cats and Sutton for Bison.

Footnote : The eruption of volcano Krakatoa in 1883 was most deadly volcanic eruptions in modern history. It had the explosive force of 200 megatons of TNT. (10,000 times greater than the bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945). 36,000 people died, many as a result of thermal injury from the blasts and many more as victims of the tsunamis with wave heights reaching 140 feet that followed the collapse of the volcano into the sea. One ship was carried and dumped 1 mile inland on the crest of one of the waves. The eruption sent a cloud of gas and debris 11 cubic miles in volume (including lumps of rock the size of houses) 15 miles into the air, darkening skies up to 275 miles around. In the immediate vicinity, sunlight was not seen for 3 days. Barographs around the globe documented that the shock waves in the atmosphere circled the planet at least 7 times. The eruption was heard as far away as Perth, Australia, some 2,800 miles away. (NB most of the figures are estimated).

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ooo Betty! Evening for the Tigers’ Hapless Back Up Netman

Bison 5 Telford Tigers 3
Cast your minds back to September. The Tigers whipped Bison 5-2 in the very same competition – the National Cup. At 2-5 to the bad I wrote “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 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.” So you might have thought that last night’s dead rubber with Bison already eliminated would have been a lacklustre devil may care affair. You’d be wrong. Bison gave it their all, were the dominant team and ran out worthy winners. However, the first period didn’t quite go the way the homesters had planned ……..

In fact P1 belonged to the Tigers. Although a pretty even period in terms of shots on goal, the Tigers were the ones who bagged the goals. Their first occurred on 6:07 with Adam Jones firing through the 5-hole of Dean Skinns, having been set up by Jason Silverthorn and Rick Plant. 0-1 Tigers.

And then on 9:16 something as undesirable as the contents of a spittoon from a tobacco chewers’ conference occurred. Bison went further behind. From Block C it looked like a slick passing move involving Silverthorn and Weaver with Plant tapping in at the back door. However, the game sheet, although crediting Plant with the goal, gave a solitary assist to Brodie Jesson with no mention of Silverthorn or Weaver. Eh? Only goes to show that the game sheet is sometimes as inaccurate as my reports. 0-2 Tigers.

Bison continued to press and finally bagged a goal on 25:04. It started with a typical Tomas Karpov drive on goal. He was forced wide, but managed to turn on a sixpence (5p piece if you prefer) and delivered a pass into space, not of the outer variety but into the slot. Advancing into that space with the speed of the 9:15 to Waterloo was Desperate Dan Scott. He brought his stick down and delivered a Jumping-Jehosophat-on-a-pogo-stick clapper. Blistering biriyanis! The puck flew past goaltender Dennis Bell before he could say “Tatianna McTaramatee”, notwithstanding that I am sure he had no intention of saying that anyway. Goal Bison and arrears reduced to 1-2. Strangely enough Karpov was not credited with an assist, but Paul Petts was. Eh?

P2 closed and it had been a period which Bison had dominated, allowing only 4 shots on their net. P3 opened with Bison looking to continue in the same vein. And this they did eventually running out comfortable winners. Unbeknown to me at the time, the Tigers had swapped goaltenders. I discovered this when studying the game sheet on the EIHA website. By the way did you know that EIHA also stands for European Industrial Hemp Association? Piffle! I hear you say. Google it then. So let’s get away from hemp, industrial or otherwise, and get back to hockey. 18 year old Jonah Armstrong took to the ice, thankfully not vomited there from the belly of a whale like his Biblical namesake (see below). The Tigers’ fans hoped he would prove Berlin wall-esque. He did, but, much to the chagrin of the aforementioned group, it was the Berlin wall on November 10th, 1989, i.e. the day after it had fallen down.

Armstrong’s first nightmare occurred on 41:31. That feline fellow Stuart “The Cat” Mogg speculatively floated in a lob towards the goal. I am not quite sure what happened immediately after. What I think happened was the puck bounced off Armstrong and there at the back door lurked Desperate Dan Davies, who hammered the puck home, making the young goaltender feel more desperate than Desperate Dan himself. 2-2.

Bison surged ahead on 51:25 by way of a power play goal. But we jump ahead. On 50:48 Referee Evans, the maker of several perplexing decisions during the game (don’t get me started), called an icing violation. What that was we can only speculate, but, into the box went Jesson to sew mailbags for a couple of minutes (or rather less than 2 minutes as it proved). Within a minute Bison had made the Tigers pay. Scott to Karpov, who put Davies in. Desperate Dan skated forward like crazy, at the double, post haste, pronto, chop-chop and PDQ and with the speed, velocity and pace of a bat out of hell, not to mention a rat up a drainpipe. He shaped to shoot and proved he is as deadly a marksman as Wild Bill Hickok and with more notches on his stick than Bill had on the handle of his Colt 45. (By the way don't confuse him with Alfred Hitchcock, who is someone completely different. That's Wild Bill below.) His top shelf wrist shot flew past the glove of Armstrong and into the net. Last week he scored an almost identical same top corner of the goal goal against the Phantoms. The illumination of the goal light was the signal for an explosion of joyous jubilation in the Bison blocks as the assembled vociferated their approbation with exclamations of ecstatic glee, euphoric felicity and blissful elation, elevating them to a place characterized by oblivion to pain, worry and anguish. They had reached an unprecedented level of nirvana, at least for now. 3-2 Bison.

3 minutes later the Bison backers were forced to descend from their high state of nirvana as the Tigers leveled the game. How it went in I am not sure, as it was a bundled effort, but I saw Skinns spinning round like the ballerina on the top of a music box and the puck sliding over the line. “Goalie interference!” shouted the Bespectacled Youth, but whether it was a Tigers’ player or a Bison player or possibly even Referee Evans who had made contact with him resulting in his rotational movement and consequent inability to stop the puck I cannot say. The referee saw no infraction, which doesn’t necessarily mean there wasn’t one. However, his flat hand pointing netwardsly indicated it was now 3-3.

So all to play for. What amazing piece of skill would decide this game and which way?  Suppose I told you that a D-man with a speculatively lobbed backhander would beat the goaltender on 55:30, you would think I was making that up wouldn’t you? Well there’s one in the eye for you non-believers because that is exactly what happened. Stuart “The Cat” Mogg, master of the lob and hope for the best, received a pass from the Antonov twins and speculatively lobbed the puck, as I have already mentioned, in a netwards direction, as he had 14 minutes before, only this time off his backhand, proving that, when it comes to lobbing the puck netwards, he is no one trick pony. Much to everyone’s astonishment (some may even have fallen into a dead faint – Moggie didn’t) the goal light illuminated. It was hardly an Ooo Matron! goal for Moggie, but, sadly for the hapless goaltender, it was an Ooo Betty! one for him and one which must have had him thinking of alternative employment. 4-3 Bison.
Not only were things getting embarrassing for the unfortunate netman they were also getting hot as Bison piled on the pressure. In fact, it couldn’t have been hotter for him than if he’d been rotating on a spit at Satan’s barbecue. With only four and a half minutes left he had to Berlin wall-up and make sure he kept Bison out to enable his forwards to snatch another leveling score at the other end. He failed. On 56:42 Bison gave the fat lady notice – start practicing your scales, woman. Set up by Hallam Wilson and Roman Malinik, Aaron “Billy” Connolly found himself in front of the net, which he soon made bulge with a top shelf backhander and, in doing so, must have propelled the hapless netman to a state of funereal perturbation. He had taken to the ice with his team at 2-1 to the good. Now they were 3-5 to the bad. He had allowed 4 goals from 13 shots on his net (why do we use that word “allow” – it makes it sound so polite). More Ooo Betty and 5-3 Bison.

And 5-3 was the final score as the buzzer blared forth with 0:00 showing on the clock. Top Bananas were elected. They were Tait for the Tigers and Baird for Bison.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Last Gasp Goal Averts a Cat Catastrophe

Bison 4 Swindon Wildcats 5 (shoot out)

Following on from their defeat of Bison at home on the previous evening, the Wildcats journeyed to Planet Ice knowing that a win would clinch top place in this National Cup group. They managed it, but only just – it was truly a skin of the teeth job. Quite amazingly Bison, short of arguably their two best players in Reynolds and Karpov and with nothing to play for in this competition, very nearly sent the Cats to an unexpected defeat, only to have the cup of victory snatched from their lips with 10 seconds remaining. But, as usual, I jump ahead, so please let us return to the start of the proceedings.

P1 opened and, after early opportunities on both sides to nose ahead, it was the Cats who bagged the first goal. We were treated to fine example of “déjà-vu”, which, in case you don’t know, is where information learned is forgotten but nevertheless stored in the brain, and similar occurrences invoke the contained knowledge, leading to a feeling of familiarity because the event or experience being experienced has already been experienced in the past. Eh? On 11:23 Ben Nethersell fed Aaron Nell, who skated across goal and dropped a pass to Max Birbraer. Just as he had done on 19:32 of the first period of the Bison v Cats game on 11/11/17, he beat Dean Skinns with an over the shoulder number. 1-0 Cats.

The Cats’ lead lasted but 2 minutes. President Trump has the power to press a red button and send a nuclear missile to strike at North Korea. On 13:22 Bison roused into action the person who presses the button to change the numbers on the scoreboard. He may not have the same power as Trump, but his finger came down on said button with just as much zest and zeal as Trump’s would on his nuclear strike button and the number below Home changed from 0 to 1 without initiating a nuclear holocaust. Desperate Dan Scott skated forward in a threatening manner. He dropped, not dead, a clanger or someone in it, but instead a pass for Josh Smith following up behind. Smith whipped a vicious wrist shot past the goaltender Matthew Smital. Smital’s attempt to stop the puck could be described as too smital too late (well that’s a lot better than what you been getting out of your Christmas crackers). 1-1.

If the Bison backers had thoughts of their team taking the game by the scruff of the neck and surging into the lead, they were to be disappointed. A minute and a half later Bison slumped once more to a deficit. A neat passing move between Luke Johnson, not to be confused with Jack Johnson and Phil Hill, not to be confused with the other Phil Hill, set up Floyd Taylor, not to be confused with Pretty Boy Floyd (see footnote). His wrist shot whipped past Skinns and it was 1-2 Cats.

So the Cats had clawed their way back into the lead and when P1 ended it had been fairly even in terms of play and shots on goal, but so far it was the Cats who had got the cream. Bison couldn’t pussyfoot around in P2. They had to fight like two cats in a sack and we were hoping the next 20 minutes of play would reveal which way the cat would jump. But if we had hoped they would set the cat amongst the pigeons, we were to be disappointed. Despite dominating with 13 shots to 4 on goal, Bison ended P2 no more goals. 1-2 Cats it remained. P3, however, proved rather different, but I won’t let the cat out of the bag here, but implore you, dear reader, to read on.

The game ground on. Bison were making no impression. The 50 minute point passed. Who would have thought we would see an explosive end to the game? Not even Nostradamus had he been present. But that is what happened. Lets go forward to 52:27. Ben Nethersall behaved like a ne’er-do-well and was called for slashing. Down the steps he went for a touch of porridge. The Cats had to keep their discipline, but they failed because on 53:24, Neil Liddiard was also ordered up the river to do a stretch for a slashing offense. 5 on 3 for 1:04. The Cats survived and made it back to 5 on 4. Could they survive this? Well no. On 55:10, as the Liddiard penalty ebbed towards expiry, Bison bagged one. The move had considerably more artistic merit than Damien Hirst’s half a sheep in a tank of formaldehyde, which has none at all - well that’s my view anyway. Desperate Dan Davies and Roman Malinik worked the puck around and found the spare man. He was Desperate Dan Scott, who was all alone in front of the net. Desperate Dan (of the Scott not Davies variety) whacked his stick against the puck and smashed it into the net, not the type you would surf and not the type you would slip through, but the goal net. 2-2. A blanket of noise indicating euphoria filled the air from the Bison seats. 

It didn’t remain 2-2 for long. 2 minutes later the Antonov twins brilliantly worked an opportunity for Josh Smith. On this occasion the feline defending was far from smoked salmon and caviar, but more akin to a stone cold Pukka Pie with soggy pastry and a nondescript filling of mushy steak and kidney with no discernible kidney……or steak come to think of it. Smith was a solitary lonely figure with no-one to distract him as he dwelt like a malingerer at the back door. He did what Scott had done and smashed the puck into the back of the net. The scoring of the goal was met by an eruption of enthusiasm from the Bison backers so vociferous that the very rivets of the steel girders of Planet Ice were shaken loose. 3-2 Bison.

The game, which had suddenly been turned on its head by Bison’s 2 goals, was now drawing to an unexpectedly exciting conclusion, but there was to be a twist, more twisty than Oliver himself, to come. On 58:07 a double penalty was called. Callum Wilson hooked and Jordan Kelsall held a stick, which was other than his own and probably Wilson’s. 2 minutes sewing mailbags for each. Then confusion reigned. The game appeared to be restarting with a 5 on 4 power play to the Cats. From the Bison blocks shouts were shouted and insults were made in an officialwards direction, casting doubt upon their ability to count (perhaps an abacus should have been supplied). The game restarted. Suddenly the puck slewed all the way down the ice from the Bison end. We turned our heads to find the Cats’ goaltender to be absent from the net. Ah that explained everything. Smital had been pulled.

Bison defended well and it looked as if the points were to be theirs. However, in a Tantalus-esque manner the cup of success was cruelly snatched from their lips with only 10 seconds remaining. The puck fell to Nell way out wide and at an acute angle to the goal. His only hope was to swing at it and hope for the best. He cracked a humdinger of a one timer clapper with all the venom he could muster. The biscuit should have flown high or wide, but it didn’t. It flew past Skinns and into the net. It was a masterpiece of quick thinking and accurate shooting, maybe with a bit of luck thrown in as well, as, from that angle, the space between the goal frame and Skinns must have been negligible. 3-3.

The final regulation time buzzer blared forth and overtime it was. This passed without any further scoring and so into one of those dreaded penalty shoot outs we moved. The less said about the shoot out the better. The Cats scored with all 3 of their shots and deservedly won. Top bananas were elected. Whitfield and Petts were the recipients of their respective teams’ accolade.

Footnote : Jack Johnson was the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion, winning the title in 1908.
Phil Hill was the first American to win the Formula 1 World Championship (1961). He also won Le Mans 3 times.
In contrast to these two great sporting heroes, Pretty Boy Floyd was a ruthless American bank robber active in the 1930s. He was tracked down and killed by the FBI in 1934.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Potent Purple Power Plays Procure the Points Pulsatingly

Bison 6 Bracknell Bees 4

This was a cracker (no Christmas pun intended) of a game following on from the dire hockey fare we were forced to consume last week as Bison scraped past Milton Keynes Thunder. Unlike last week there is so much to tell, so, without further ado, I implore you, dear reader, to read on.

P1 opened and it didn’t take long for Bison to snatch the lead. 3:18 to be precise. It was a masterly move with the Antonov twins firing a long pass across the back of the goal to Josh Smith. His one timer pass out in front caught the Bees’ D with their trousers down. There without a challenge, as the Bees’ D seemed out to lunch, was Tomas Karpov, who snapped the puck past an astonished Alex Mettam in the Bees’ net. It was a zim-zam-zaramango goal and 1-0 Bison.

Just before the passing of the 13th minute mark we saw an extraordinary incident. The slightly built Antonov (not sure if it was Vanya or Ivan) delivered a mid ice check and sent his opponent crashing to the ice. Blistering Biriyanis! Before we had time to take in what we had seen Desperate Dan Davies sent Aaron “Billy” Connolly on his way over the blue line. Billy cleverly changed direction to give the covering D-man the slip and then whipped in a wrist shot top shelf. By George! It was a bally marvellous goal, don’t ya know? 2-0 Bison.

P1 ended and P2 opened. Bison were riding high. 2-0 up against a team who had lost their last 9 games in a row (the only occasion since early November when they avoided defeat was against the Telford Tigers on 10th December, but only because the game had been postponed). Bison had outshot the Bees in the 1st and had looked a far superior team well worth their lead. What could possibly go wrong? Well fate was to vomit on Coach Sheppard’s best suit as Bracknell came storming back. They poached 3 goals in less time than it would take to boil an egg, leaving Bison with egg on their faces and brains scrambled.

The Bees’ first came on 25:03 with Connolly copped for tripping. The ever popular Frankie Bakrlik whipped a screened shot past Dean Skinns on 25:03. His assistants on this occasion were declared as the equally popular Scott Spearing and Matt Foord. 2-1 Bison.

Then on 28:39 a defensive disaster on the Bison D allowed the Bees to restore parity with Josh Ealey-Newman firing home from the slot assisted by George Norcliffe and Tom Avery. 2-2 and it was going a bit Ooo Betty for Bison. They needed to surge back into the lead, but, alas for the Bison backers, the surge which occurred on 30:38 was a surge into a losing position as Bakrlik was on the end of a sweeping move involving Foord and Carl Thompson (cunningly disguised as Shaun Thompson). Frankie’s clapper flew past Skinns and the Bees were in the lead by 3-2. It had been a purple 5 minutes for them (well 5:33 to be precise). Some of the Bison backers sank into a dark chasm of disappointment, as they swirled around in a veritable whirlpool of pessimism, angst and despondency. From others a beacon of optimism shined forth like a shaft of gold where all else is dark. Of course Bison were going to re-establish their superiority. And it was the latter who proved to be more accurate assessors of things to come, for indeed Bison came back to restore parity, as I shall relate below, dear reader.

On 30:58 a ferocious assault with stick by Avery on Roman Malinik caused Referee Matthews to shout “Oi. matey! You can’t do that. Down the steps you go.” And indeed down the steps went the hapless Avery. It was to prove a fatal mistake for the fellow as Bison capitalised with another power play goal with 15 seconds of the 5 on 4 remaining, much to Avery’s chagrin I am sure. Set up by Malinik, Rabbit’s Foot Joe Baird sent in a speculative lobbed shot. Suddenly the goal light went on and Bison arms were in the air. Josh Smith had used his twig to tip it in. 3-3.

Bison continued to press. They didn’t want to go in at the 2nd buzzer on level terms, having been the better team for the best of 2 periods. They needn’t have worried. On 36:00 Spearing slashed. It must have been a double slash as the victims were the Antonov twins. The Bison crowd called for a hanging for the unsavoury Spearing, but no rope (or indeed a tree) could be found. It had to be only a 2 minute sitting in the box punishment. Spearing must have been overjoyed when he obtained an early release 1:13 later, albeit not for good behaviour. No indeed it was because Bison scored a goal on 37:13. This one truly was a Jumping-Jeshosophat-on-a-pogo-stick goal, scored by Captain Marvel, Billy Connolly, his 2nd of the game. Billy picked up the puck in his own D zone and charged forward. One could not help but admire the manner in which he sliced through the Bees’ D like a Chindit hacking through the Burma jungle, albeit without the machete. No-one could dispossess him. Were the D wallowing in a sea of ineptitude or was Billy’s lithe, lissom and athletic form proving as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel? Probably both. The surge ended with Billy sliding the puck through the isosceles triangle (you’ll know what that is if you paid attention in geometry at school) which is Mettam’s 5-hole. Ooo matron what a goal. 4-3 Bison.

P2 ended soon after. It had been an eventful period and, despite conceding the go-behind goal late on, it had proved a very successful one for the Bees with 3 goals from only 6 shots on target, but they were still behind.

And so into the final phase of a pulsating game we moved. Which way would it swing? Initially it swung Beewards. Carl Thompson, still posing as his brother Shaun, finished a move swiping the puck home out of the air following good work by Avery and Bakrlik. 4-4 and all to play for. But their joy was to prove short lived, as only 4 minutes later Bison restored their lead with yet another power play goal (that’s 3 in a row). On 51:08 Callum Best did his worst and had his collar felt for tripping. His incarceration was very short as it proved. Only 13 seconds later Karpov and Desperate Dan Davies set up Desperate Dan Scott for a clapper from the point. Scott’s lumber came down with an almighty crash and the puck took flight. Had netman Mettam possessed noses of similar size to those of that of Gerard Depardieu, Charles de Gaulle or Cyrano de Bergerac (a coincidence that they’re all French surely), he could have turned sideways and blocked the goal completely. But he didn’t, something I am sure he is very thankful for. But he wouldn’t have been thankful in any way about what happened next. The puck flew past him like an angry Bee and into the net, which made him an angry Bee no doubt. 5-4 Bison.

Bison wrapped up the points 3 minutes later, but the aftermath of the goal was cloaked in mystery and intrigue. Bad defending with a cherry on top gave a wrapped in Christmas paper opportunity with a 2 on 1 to Bison. The 2 were Karpov and Antonov. Ok regular readers I know Vanya and Ivan Antonov is only one bloke, so it wasn’t a 3 on 1 – there must be some modicum of accuracy here (why start now I hear you say). So Karpov surged forward on the left wing and, bypassing a despairing D-man, centred to Vanya Antonov (or was it Ivan?), who shot. Mettam saved, but Antonov squeezed home the rebound. 6-4 Bison. There then followed a bizarre round of discussion between officials and captains with Karpov sent to the box. Was it a goal? Was it not a goal? Why was Karpov in the box? Well it was a goal and Karpov had copped a 10 misconduct. The Man with 3 Ear-rings suggested that he must have spoken to Ref Matthews in Czech, which apparently is not allowed as the official does not know if he is being abused or complimented. If that happened I am sure Karpov said “Velké Vánoce, pane Matthews. Mohl byste říct panu Lalondeovi, že se zmrzne na krůtí”. (Have a great Christmas, Mr. Matthews. Could you tell Mr. Lalonde to go easy on the turkey).

It mattered not a jot what was uttered and in which language. The proceedings drew to a close minutes later and it was 2 points in the bag for Bison, enough to secure their top of the table position. And the Bees must be pleased that their record continued. Now 10 defeats in a row – not many teams can boast that.

Top Bananas were elected. Connolly received the Bison accolade, a worthy winner with 2 spectacular goals. Reformed character Frankie Bakrlik copped the Bees’ beers – 2 goals and an assist, no penalties and no nasties. Can he keep it up? As Santa might say “Yo. Ho. Ho.”


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Bison Walk Through Walls as Ghostly Opponents Exorcised

Bison 6 Peterborough Phantoms 2

The crowds flocked to Planet Ice last night to witness the final game in the qualifying stages of the Autumn Cup. After last week’s dire home defeat against the Streatham Redhawks and with Bison short benched yet again (no Baird, Antonov, Smith or Malinik available), it might have looked like a forgone conclusion. However, every team is capable of a dire performance and the Phantoms are no exception. Maybe not outplayed, but they certainly were outgoaltendered (does such a word exist?) with Euan King, their hapless netman, recording a chunderous save percentage of 0.75 (OK that’s really a decimal isn’t it), whilst Dean Skinns at the other end stopped 92.86% of the shots fired at him. The end result was a sound spanking for the Phantoms.

P1 opened with the clock at 20:00, as it always does. To say that the crowd were treated to a pulsating period populated with a proliferation of praiseworthy plays and pleasurable purpleness would be a good example of alliteration, but alas a deviation from the truth of what actually happened. And so we will dwell no further on the first 20 minutes of play, but will instead pass on to the second epoch, one which yielded a far superior level of entertainment for the assembled, not to mention 5 goals.

The deadlock was finally broken on 21:24 when Bison snatched the lead. Desperate Dan Davies won a face off. The puck squirted to Ryan Sutton, whose pass found Desperate Dan Scott all alone in the slot. The Phantoms’ defending on this occasion was sluggardly and chunderous. I wish I could throw some light on the why the defending was thus, but alas I have no light to throw on the matter nor indeed have I anything else to throw. Who cares? All we need to know at this juncture is that Scott skated forward and rifled a wrist shot past King glove side. After a turgid 1st period and following on from that hideous non-scoring performance against Streatham last week, the scoring of the goal cause the Bison backers to erupt like a load of steam squirting out of the valve of a pressure cooker. 1-0 Bison.

On 28:16 it was 2-0. Nathan Pollard was about to have his freedom pollarded after a slash. Up went Refereee Matthews’s hand and away from his net went Dean Skinns. He steamed towards the bench in a most steamy fashion to allow a 6th skater to take to the ice. Within the blink of an eye Bison scored. Aaron “Billy” Connolly received a pass from Kurt “The Scissors” Reynolds and hammered the puck in off the crossbar. Goaltender King was bitterly disappointed and sank back into his net in what seemed to be the foetal position. Was he indicating that he wanted his mummy to assuage his disappointment who knows? Mrs. King did not appear. 2-0 Bison and, as for Pollard, he remained unpollarded.

Cruising at 2-0 and playing some exciting hockey, Bison were flying as high as one of Noel Gallagher’s birds. It could only get better surely. Well no, matron. Bison pressed the self destruct button. In 1961 Viv Nicholson and her husband won today’s equivalent of £3m on the football pools. She famously vowed to “spend, spend, spend”. She did just that and blew the lot in a very short space of time. In a similar vein Bison blew their lead, albeit in a much shorter period of time - 2 minutes to be precise. The 1st Phantoms goal occurred on 30:53 and came from a giveaway (the culprit will remain unidentified here to spare his blushes). Suffice it to say that said giveaway gave a 2 on 1 to the ghostly visitors. Leigh Jamieson didn’t need his partner, however, but instead rifled a wrist shot past Dean Skinns. 2-1 Bison.

Then things became even worse. Bison backers’ expectations rose when Will Weldon was called for a trip on 31:32. “Up the river you go, matey,” said Referee Matthews and off to the box went a (I am sure) repentant Weldon. Could his team defend the 5 on 4? Well yes they could and, better still for the apparitional icemen, they bagged a short handed goal on 32:41. Robert Ferrara set up Darius Pliskauskas and he whipped in a wrist shot from the slot to return the game to parity. Ooo Betty. 2-2.

The game continued to ebb and flow and on 36:31 Bison retook the lead. I am not quite sure what happened. I saw Stuart “The Cat” Mogg send in a speculative shot from just inside the blue line. It seemed to be heading straight for goaltender King’s chest. Alas my line of vision was blocked. Suddenly Bison arms were thrown skywards, the goal light was on and Mr. Matthews’s flat netwardsly pointing hand made an appearance. The scorer was announced as Ryan Sutton and the first assistant as Connolly. A shot, a save, a tip in, a scramble? Who knows? Not I. Who cares? All that mattered was that it was 3-2 Bison and that is how the teams returned to the locker room minutes later as the buzzer blared forth to indicate an end to P2 hostilities.

P3 opened and on 43:13 King’s failure to freeze the puck in his crease led to a scene of abject insanity in front of the Phantoms’ net. The puck was as loose as a goose and it seemed like one big mad house with a bunch of deranged lunatics maniacally stabbing at the puck in a frantic and frenzied manner. Eventually General Grant Rounding forced it over the line, an occurrence which was greeted by an illuminated goal light, a flat pointy referee’s hand and Bison players’ arms raised aloft. Now it was the Bison crowd’s turn to lose their marbles as they instantly turned into a delirious mob of unhinged madmen (and women), wildly cheering and waving their arms in the air as if sanity had deserted them. 4-2 Bison. Assists to Karpov and Reynolds, whose rôles in the mêlée will remain undescribed by me.

On 49:40 Reynolds passed out of defence to Sutton who moved the puck on to Connolly. What Billy did next was pure poetry in motion. He glided forward with poise and balance akin to that of The Great Blondin crossing the Niagara Falls on a tightrope, but rather quicker (The Great who? See below). He skated across the slot to evade the three Phantoms covering their goal, emerged the other side, wide and to the goaltender’s right, and whipped a peach of a wristy past the hapless netman. 5-2 Bison.

Bison had not finished. On 56:48 Stuart “The Cat” Mogg was thrown in the can to sew mailbags at Her Majesty’s pleasure for slashing. He did his porridge. In 1969 the Beach Boys sang a song called “Breakaway”. The opening lines were : “Break break shake away, break breakaway, Now I'm free to do what I want to do” On 58:48 those very words could have been sung by Moggie as he emerged from the penalty box and was fed the puck by Paul Petts (from Kurt Reynolds). Clear of the Phantoms D, who once more must have been as asleep as Sleepy John Estes (who? Oh just an old blues artist), Moggie raced forward like a rat up a drain pipe. He couldn’t have moved faster towards goal than if he’d hitched a ride on Diocles’s chariot (Dio who? See footnote). He didn’t pussyfoot around, but instead whipped a sweet and indeed wicked wrist shot past the despairing netman King, who had been left denuded of cover by his inattentive and sluggardly D. It was a corker of a shot, which had bulged the net before King could say “Hell’s bells”. 6-2 Bison and as good as game over. 1:03 later it really was game over as the buzzer sounded.

Top Bananas were announced. Leigh Jamieson copped the Phantoms’ beers and Ryan Sutton with a 1+2 evening was deemed worthy of the Bison accolade.

Footnote : Gaius Appuleius Diocles was a Roman charioteer, the greatest of them all it is said. Of the 4,257 four-horse races he competed in, Diocles won 1,462. Many of his victories took the form of a come from behind crossing of the finish line at the last possible moment, which made him a massive crowd favourite. Over his 24 year career he amassed a colossal 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money, enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for one year.