Bison win close encounter

Saturday, 20th September 2014

Basingstoke Bison 3 - Manchester Phoenix 2

Phoenix scorers: Robin Kovar and Michal Psurny.

J Davidson sponsored “Men of Iron”, Manchester Phoenix, took to the road to take on close rivals Basingstoke Bison. The last time the teams met was the thrilling play off final that Bison narrowly won.

Phoenix were at full strength with the exception of netminder Declan Ryan and Stephen Fone took stance between the pipes.

Phoenix completely surprised their hosts and the large crowd by taking the lead after just 21 seconds. Robin Kovar drove into the zone after a pass from Shaun Thompson and blasted the puck past the bemused Dean Skinns. Phoenix were penalised on 4.26 when Frankie Bakrlik was called on a hooking minor and Bison took full advantage to equalise.

Bison broke up play and Joe Greener dropped a pass to ex Phoenix favourite Ciaran Long who shot past the screened Phoenix netminder. Stephen Fone was called on to make two key saves in the middle of the period from Miroslav Vantroba and Aaron Connolly. Bison had the upper hand at this juncture but found Stephen Fone in great form and could not find a way past him. The period ended with the scores tied at 1-1 with both sets of fans enjoying the match.

Bison started the stronger in the second period and put the Phoenix defence under sustained pressure. Great defensive plays by Luke Boothroyd and Stephen Fone stood up to everything thrown at them but the home side broke the deadlock on 24.10 when Melachrino found Greener and he squeezed the puck past Fone to make it 2-1.  Phoenix then lost forward Robin Kovar on a game misconduct after he remonstrated once too often with referee Matt Thompson.

Bison did have the puck in the net only to see referee Thompson rule out the goal. Although Bison had the upper hand, Phoenix were also making chances of their own and Michal Psurny and Frankie Bakrlik both created good chances. Adam Walker then let loose a blistering shot that was well saved by Dean Skinns. The visitors suffered a blow when defender Johan Burlin had to be helped off the ice with what looked like an ankle injury and, unfortunately, he was to play no further part in the game. The second period of a very entertaining game ended with the home side holding a 2-1 advantage.

With both teams going at it hammer and tongs, the third period was never going to be at the same frenetic pace as the second. Both teams made chances and the game got a little chippy from time to time but nothing to write home about.

 Kurt Reynolds and the feisty Jacob Heron had a tangle in the corner which ended with Reynolds heading to the box on a cross checking call. James Neil then made the play of the day with a brilliant stick check on Karpov as he bore down on goal. Chances were still happening at both ends and Phoenix, two imports down at this stage, were well in the game with 10 minutes left. The all-important next goal came at 52.25 and it broke the hearts of the Phoenix fans and players alike.

 Karpov fed Melachrino on the edge of the crease and slotted the puck home for 3-1 to Bison. Phoenix were never going to give this game up, though, and pulled a goa lback on 53.26 when Michal Psurny scored. James Neil got a shot off and it came off Skinns’ pads and the man from the Czech Republic tapped the puck home at the post. Phoenix suffered another blow when Bakrlik took a heavy hip check from Vantgroba and had to be helped off the ice after landing badly.

That was it for the action in a helter skelter match up between two entertaining teams, the home side edging the points with a 3-2 final score.  Bison’s Joe Greener and Phoenix’s Stephen Fone were given the Man of the Match awards.

Phoenix are back in action on Sunday afternoon against the Sheffield Steeldogs with the usual 17:30 face off.