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).