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REPORT - Basingstoke Bison 5 Manchester Phoenix 3
BASINGSTOKE Bison capped their best-ever season in the English Premier League, by adding the play-off crown to the EPL Cup on Sunday evening in Coventry.
The Herd took the crown with a superb 5-3 victory, over league champions Manchester Phoenix.
After a goalless first 20 minutes in which the Bison had the better chances, it was Manchester who struck first.
Robin Kovar netted from close range on the powerplay at 28:47, as Ciaran Long sat out a boarding penalty.
The British forward quickly made amends as just 26 seconds later Long levelled the match.
With the Bison shorthanded again, Joe Rand broke away, but before he could shot he was upended by Kovar and the Herd were awarded a penalty shot.
Canadian Rand stepped up and roared on by the Bison travelling fans he slotted home to give his side the lead at 31:36.
Another Bison penalty saw Kurt Reynolds step out of the sin bin and latch onto a long pass and only an excellent save by Stephen Fone denied the defenceman a goal.
Manchester opened the final period brightly and equalised from James Archer on the powerplay.
However, the Herd fans did not have to wait long for their side’s third goal as Joe Baird, a scorer in both the Bison’s Benson and Hedges Plate triumphs, fired home from the blue line.
The lead was then doubled as man-of-the-match Tomas Karpov was allowed to skate down centre ice and fired past Fone at 50:01.
Just a minute later, the Phoenix had to kill off 67 seconds of a five-on-three powerplay.
As Manchester tried to get back into the game, a goal mouth scramble saw Aaron Connolly push the net off its moorings.
He departed to the sin bin and the Phoenix scored from Kovar at 56:49, which set-up up a tense finale.
With 50 seconds left, Manchester netminder Fone was pulled for the extra skater and Skinns made a couple of saves.
As the game entered the final seconds, Connolly escaped with the puck and beats the final defenceman to slot into the empty net with two seconds left.
This sparked great celebrations from the Bison faithful who had made the trip to Coventry.
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