THE Basingstoke Bison maintained top spot in the South One, after a very entertaining 6-4 victory over visiting local rivals the Bracknell Bees.

The Herd had Josh Smith and Joe Baird back for the clash, but were minus defenceman Kurt Reynolds.

The home side looked very comfortable in the first 20 minutes, as they built up a 2-0 lead.

Tomas Karpov scored the opener and then man of the match Aaron Connolly doubled the advantage.

Everything looked to be going to plan for the Herd, until referee Stephen Matthews decided to give the Bees an early Christmas present calling a very harsh penalty on Connolly.

The Bison captain knocked over Bracknell netminder Alex Mettam, but only because he had been upended by Bees Scott Spearing.

Bracknell made the most of the man advantage, as man of the match Frankie Bakrlik fired in from the blue line at 25:03.

This spurred the visitors on and five minutes later, they led 3-2 as Josh Ealey-Newman netted and then Bakrlik scored again.

Their lead lasted just two minutes, as a slash by Tom Avery on Roman Malinik earned the Bracknell man a rest in the sin bin.

This time the Bison scored on the powerplay, as former Bee Smith deflected Baird’s blue line shot into the net.

The Herd then took the lead again from another man advantage situation, thanks to a great Connolly solo strike.

Seven minutes into the final session, the Bees levelled things, as Bakrlik turned provider for Carl Thompson to score.

The Bison replied with their third powerplay goal of the night, thanks to a lovely strike from Dan Scott.

They then gave themselves some breathing space, as they made it 6-4, after Karpov fed Ivan Antonov and he slotted home.

As the clocked ticked down, Bracknell were given the game’s last powerplay in the final three minutes and bizarrely never pulled their netminder, as the Bison held on to win. The Herd return to action on Boxing Day (4pm) when they travel to the Swindon Wildcats in the National Cup and then the following night (7pm) the Bison are at home against the same opponents in the same competition.