The first game of the weekend saw the Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees head to Buckinghamshire to face the Milton Keynes Thunder.
Milton Keynes Thunder 2 Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees 3
Only the home team could find the back of the net in the opening period as Greg Randall’s 7.52 strike was the only successful shot in the period but, in the second period, Zack Milton had the game levelled at 25.00 when he finished from Vanya Antonov and Aidan Doughty. 101 seconds later Ryan Sutton put the Bees ahead but a strike with 7 seconds left in the period from Thunder’s Tomas Rubes saw the second interval taken at 2-2.
Vanya Antonov converted a powerplay at 41.29 for what turned out to be the game-winning goal early in the third period. The home team struggled with penalty trouble in the final period with a 10 minute misconduct penalty at 44.47 and a game misconduct penalty picked up as the final buzzer sounded
Milton Keynes: Randall, Rubes 1+0; Grinell-Parke, McPherson 0+1. Net: Lawday (60.00) 50/3
Bracknell: Antonov 1+1; Sutton, Z Milton 1+0; Spearing, Malinik, Doughty, Thompson 0+1. Net: Skinns (60.00) 25/2
Period Scores: 1-0/1-2/0-1
Shots On Goal: 25-50
Penalty Minutes: 46-6
Referee: A Miller. Linesmen: Ellis & Kowell
Sunday night had the Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees back on home ice to take on Swindon Wildcats for the first time since pre-season.
Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees 3 Swindon Wildcats 4 (after overtime)
Early chances came for the Wildcats but Bees got a powerplay chance at 3.37 when Ben Nethersell took a delay of the game penalty. Aidan Doughty shot first with the man advantage but it was after the Wildcats cleared that danger that Doughty opened the scoring. Bees cycled the puck around to Roman Malinik who shot from the blue line, Doughty got a deflection but after Marr’s save he finished with the rebound for 1-0 at 4.51.
Chances followed for the Bees back at even strength, first Vanya Antonov and Josh Smith in combination before Ryan Watt, Roman Malinik and Edward Knaggs combined for another.
A sharp save by Dean Skinns drew a whistle at 9.13 but Wildcats won the resulting draw and despite being forced out the zone Chris and Sam Jones combined to feed Jan Kostal who advanced and shot at speed at 9.37 to level the game.
Wildcats sprung a 3 on 1 which was broken up by good defensive play by Niko Suoraniemi and as play stopped Scott Spearing and Maxim Birbraer had words with Spearing getting a checking penalty and Wildcats gaining a powerplay.
While Swindon were on the powerplay a great piece of solo play by Roman Malinik saw him battle for the puck at the blue line and complete a solo run before cutting in front to beat Renny Marr on the glove side at 12.32 for a shorthanded unassisted goal.
A Swindon penalty to Jan Kostal at 13.40 was killed off and after further chances at both ends a Wildcats powerplay came at 18.28 with Josh Martin assesed a late hit penalty and with 32 seconds remaining on the powerplay the first period ended with Bees ahead by 2-1.
With Bees three seconds away from returning to full strength Harvey Stead was called for tripping giving Wildcats 3 second of 5 on 3 before Josh Martin returned but before he could rejoin the play Stead’s penalty was also ended as Swindon equalised. Dean Skinns made two quick saves in short order but after a save and a rebound saved Sam Bullas got the second rebound and bundled it home at 20.33
Swindon were back on the powerplay at 23.47 with Scott Spearing called for slashing but Wildcats couldn’t convert and Bees returned to full strength.
At 27.48 Bees believed they’d got the go ahead goal as Vanya Antonov shot on net he celebrated quickly with his team joining in. The Wildcats players also stopped then the whistle blew. Referee Stephen Matthews searched for the puck and when Renny Marr moved the puck was revealed trapped between his pads. At no point in time had Marr crossed the goal line so a call of no goal was made.
Chances flowed at both ends before Ben Nethersell’s second trip to the penalty box, this one for hooking at 32.40. While down a man Swindon went ahead for the first time in the game as Edgars Bebris cut in towards the net and outwaited Dean Skinns to released his shot and light the goal light at 33.03.
Aaron Nell hit the post at 35.57 and after good defence had seen a period of few chances for either team Bees pressured hard at the end of the second period but still went in for the second interval down by a goal.
Roman Malinik forced his way through three Wildcats to generate the first chance of the third period but as Scott Spearing chased the puck he fell victim to a tripping call at 42.17 to give the Wildcats a powerplay. Their powerplay didn’t last long as a Sam Bullas interference call at 42.40 levelled the on ice strength at 4 on 4.
The additional space of four on four allowed the Bees to string together some good passes before finding Josh Smith who obliged with the game levelling goal at 44.11 finishing from Josh Martin and Brendan Baird at 44.11
A high sticking call to Aaron Nell at 47.21 put Bees back on the powerplay but Swindon killed the powerplay. Chances kept coming at both ends but neither team could break the deadlock as both goaltenders stood tall.
Both teams enjoyed good periods as regulation ended, first the Wildcats then the Bees dominated the closing two minutes of regulation time but the third period ended with the teams locked at 3 each and the game headed to overtime.
Joe Baird enjoyed the first shot of the extra period but it went wide on the stick side. As Bees regathered, Niko Souraniemi was caught offside.
As Bees were having a good start to overtime Ryan Sutton was advancing down the wing when Swindon forced a turnover and fed Sam Jones who’s shot from the hashmarks flashed past Dean Skinns and into the net at 62.12 for the game winning goal,
Bracknell: Malinik 1+1; Doughty, Smith 1+0; Thompson, B Baird, Martin 0+1. Net: Skinns (62.12) 30/4
Swindon: S Jones, Bullas, Bebris 1+1; C Jones 0+2; Kostal 1+0; Harding, Nell, Marr 0+1. Net: Marr (62.12) 29/3
Period Scores: 2-1/0-2/1-0/0-1
Shots On Goal: 29-30
Penalty Minutes: 10-10
Referee: S Matthews. Linesmen: F Sitch-Cunningham & A Billings
After the weekend Doug Sheppard commented; “I’m disappointed we didn’t get the two points on Sunday. I think if we’d brought our best game it would have been a different game. I think we weren’t mentally ready game, maybe it was a bit to do with nerves ahead of a big game.
Focussing on the positives Josh Smith comes up with a huge goal and you put yourself in a position for overtime. In the extra period the game is anyone’s but I really think that was a missed opportunity for us.”