THE Basingstoke Bison moved to the top of the English Premier League table with a penalty shoot-out victory over the Sheffield Steeldogs in Yorkshire last night.
The Herd made a great start, taking the lead at 8:17 as leading scorer Karpov took advantage of a powerplay to fire home, with assists going to Joe Greener and Sheppard.
Karpov had his second of the night less than four minutes later, Andy Melachrino getting the helper, but the hosts pulled a goal back before the first buzzer, Ashley Calvert bursting down the right to set up Tim Smith.
Sheffield got onto the front foot in the second period and pulled level at 33:21, Lloyd Gibson scoring at the back post from an Edgars Bebris pass.
However, Andre Payette then picked up a roughing penalty and the Bison struck on the powerplay for a second time, Karpov completing his hat-trick shortly after Ciaran Long hit the crossbar.
Sadly, the lead did not last long, Lubomir Korhon equalising with a bullet shot from just inside the blue line, while the Herd hit the frame of the goal again just before the end of the second session.
The final period saw the Bison’s Matt Selby pick a fight with Craig Elliot and while both were handed roughing penalties, the Herd man received an extra two minutes for his part in sparking the incident. However, the hosts were unable to make the most of the powerplay and the match went to overtime.
There was no further scoring in the extra five minutes, so penalty shots were required.
Both sides saw their first efforts saved but Long and Korhon both scored second up. The next seven shots failed to find the back of the net, giving Sheppard the chance to wrap up the victory, which he managed to do with a low shot.
The win means the Bison are two points clear at the top of the table, but they have played four more games than the second-placed Manchester Phoenix, who they host in a massive game at the Basingstoke Arena on Saturday.