By Tom Hurley
Two goals from Aaron Connolly lifted Basingstoke Bison to a 3-2 victory over Thunder at Planet Ice on NHS Night Sunday.
Penalty trouble mounted up for the home side as Lewis Clifford’s men incurred 52 penalty minutes over the course of the game, a stark contrast to the lone 2-minute minor committed by Basingstoke.
The Bison scored the opening goal on one of their eight power plays when the impressive Ivan Antonov knocked the puck to Connolly on the boards, with the visiting captain skating into the slot and firing past Tom Annetts inside of eight minutes.
That lead was doubled by the time the first intermission came around after Connolly carried into the Thunder zone and fed Tomas Karpov behind the goal line. The Czech forward slid the puck past Annetts from a tight angle to make it 2-0 through 20 minutes.
Thunder came back strong in the second period and halved the deficit in the 25th minute. Rupert Quiney collected the puck on the left wing boards, worked himself down the corner then in front for a shot, his rebound was met by Ryan Handisides who snapped it past Basingstoke netminder Dean Skinns.
The scoreline remained 2-1 deep into the third period when Clifford called a timeout and elected to pull Annetts for an extra attacker, with a face-off coming deep inside the Bison zone.
Greg Randall couldn’t convert with a slapper from the point, then when Ross Bowers was unable to get his stick on the end of centering pass from Tom Carlon, Connolly raced away to score into the empty net for a 3-1 advantage.
Gareth O’Flaherty gave Thunder a glimmer of hope with nine seconds remaining when he sent the rebound from Carlon’s shot into the net, but MKT were unable to score again as the clock wound down.
Thunder will have a weekend off to refresh themselves before taking another crack at the Bison in Basingstoke on Saturday, Dec. 16. MKT return to home ice on Sunday, Dec. 17 when Streatham IHC roll into Milton Keynes for a 6:30 p.m. face-off at Planet Ice.
Tickets for the game against former MK Lightning captain Adam Carr’s RedHawks are priced at £9 Adults, £5 Concessions (students, over 65s, and supporters registered disabled), £5 MKL Season Ticket Holders, and £1 Under 16s.