CAPTAIN fantastic Russ Cowley bagged a hat-trick and Sam Smith scored his first ever Basingstoke Bison goal as the Bracknell Bees were resoundingly stung on Saturday night.

The 6-2 victory saw the Herd replace their local rivals in third spot and they are now just one point behind second placed Swindon Wildcats, with a game in hand.

It was certainly the Bison who were buzzing in the first 20 minutes and they deserved their 2-0 lead at the first break.

Man of the match Cowley opened the scoring at 14:19, as he finished a move involving Alex Sampford and Richard Bordowski, which was the first of four assists for the Czech forward on the night.

George Norcliffe added the second goal as he deflected Adam Jones’ blue line shot past Bracknell’s man of the match Dean Skinns.

All the Bison’s good work in the first 20 minutes was then undone in three minutes of madness at the start of the second session.

By the time the Herd woke up the scores were level as Zack Milton and Roman Malinik had both scored.

Bracknell was then given a great chance to take the lead as the home side’s Bordowski was then penalised correctly by referee Stephen Matthews at 25:42.

His stick broke in half after a shot and he skated to the bench with the shattered end of the stick, when he should have dropped it to the ice.

During the Bees powerplay, Malinik hit the pipework.

The Bison then suffered another penalty on Adam Harding, but it did not matter as they took the lead shorthanded.

Bordowski released Cowley and as calm as you like he beat Skinns much to the delight of most of the packed arena.

The Bison then added a fourth goal before the break, thanks to a super right point strike from 17-year-old Sam Smith, which was his first ever Bison goal at 34:58.

The final session saw the Bison awake from the start and added goal number five at 41:20 as Michal Klejna netted Norcliffe’s rebound.

Bracknell were then given a lifeline at 46:29, when awarded a penalty shot.

This looked harsh on Danny Ingoldsby as Scott Spearing did not look like he had control of the puck in the goal crease, when he was upended.

New Bees import Tyler Vankleef was given the job to take the penalty shot, but was only able to find the pad of Alex Mettam and the home fans went wild.

They were up on their feet celebrating again nine minutes later, when Cowley slotted home a pass from behind the net from Bordowski to complete his hat-trick and the match scoring.

After the game, Bison player/coach Ashley Tait said: “It was a great team performance and I felt we were tremendous tonight except for those three minutes at the start of the second. The boys can now enjoy their Sunday off.”

The Bison’s next game is on Saturday at home to the MK Thunder, before a trip to Bracknell a week today.

Ice hockey fans who want to watch a game in Basingstoke this evening, can do so, as the Basingstoke Buffalo are at home to the Invicta Mustangs, which starts at 6.15pm.