THE Basingstoke Buffalo lost out in a nine-goal thriller as they were beaten 5-4 by the visiting reigning league champions the Bristol Pitbulls last Saturday, writes Graham Merry.

It was the Buffs who opened the better as man of the match Hallam Wilson slammed the puck off the crossbar in the opening minute.

However, Bristol took the lead as Sam Davies scored on the powerplay on the seven-minute mark.

After this, the Pitbulls dominated, but home goalie Dan Weller-Evans kept them at bay as it remained 1-0 at the first break.

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After the interval, the Buffalo went in search of an equaliser as Sam Compton and Sam Hemmings-Maher both forced saves from Bristol’s Aaron Burton.

The home side did level things at 26:54 thanks to a lovely strike from Wilson, after he was released by Freddie Stephens.

Bristol replied two minutes later as Nathan Chilcott netted at the back post.

The home side so nearly equalised soon after, as hard working Kristian Nicolson found Xander Robinson and his lay back saw Hemmings-Maher denied from close range.

The Buffalo then ran into penalty trouble after some harsh calls, but Bristol made the most of it with a brace of powerplay goals from Davies and Jamie Newton to make it 4-1 at the end of the second period.

The final session started with some good Buffalo pressure, but then a lovely passing move saw Bristol’s Hayden Lee slot home.

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Despite this setback, the Buffalo kept going and netted their second of the night, as Carl Graham on his debut passed to Scott Anda who found Wilson to score.

The lead was cut further two minutes later, as Wilson skated onto a pass from Compton and slotted under the Bristol netminder for his hat-trick.

Just 13 seconds later, Wilson turned provider as Scott Anda hammered the puck home to make it 5-4 with 10 minutes to go.

The reigning champions were certainly shaken and it was left to Bristol man of the match Burton to make sure the Buffs did not tie the game up in a frantic finale.

Hat-trick scorer and one of the Buffs player coaches Wilson said: “I felt we were the better team for 40 minutes of the game. We will take a lot of positives from this, when you think they are the reigning champions and only beat us by one goal.”

The Buffalo are next in action on Saturday October 7 (6.30pm) against visiting Swindon Wildcats.