The opening leg of the playoff finals was to be played at Blackburn and would be the first Aces game for over a month. Absentees for the Aces were Kevin Cassidy and Luke Stretton.

Basingstoke made the best possible start, a slapshot from Beere from the right finding its way past Danny Higgin, a shot that Danny would normally have expected to save. Aces had a few chances but the Buffalo added another after a Campbell effort was saved and Mark Jordan jammed home the rebound. Fortunately, Aces rebounded straight away and a Jason Hewitt shot along the ice crept through Astill’s 5 hole. Both sides had chances before Danny had to deny Campbell 1 on 1 after the puck had been coughed up. A rocket of a shot from Jason came back off the post and Danny made a good save to deny a Campbell wrist shot. The period ended with the Aces defending 1.20 of 3 on 5.

The 3 on 5 was played off before two Buffalo took each other out and a Brian Worrall shorthanded effort just caught the keeper and went out. We had another couple of chances that went wide but you got the feeling we weren’t quite getting the luck of the run of the puck. We then faced another two minutes of 3 on 5 as Tim Dempsey took the second minor for playing on without realising he had a broken stick. From the drop of the puck though, Greg Allen’s leading a 2 on 1 break and passes to Nick Crawley for Mr Reliable to net a great shorthander – I can’t remember the Aces getting a 3 on 5 shorthander before. Greg, Russ Richardson and Simon Mills defended well and the 3 on 5 was played off again this time with a bonus. Aces moved onto the powerplay, Greg sent an effort from the side just wide before Jason took the puck in and beat Astill for the go ahead goal. With Danny making a great glove save to deny Beere on a breakaway, the period ended 3-2 to the Aces.

Aces almost added to their lead early in the lead, Arran Richardson stopped in front and Brian’s follow up was stopped on the line. It was Basingstoke who scored first though, Page knocking home the rebound from Campbell’s shot from the point for the equalizer. End to end play before the Aces caught fire just after halfway. Greg fed Billy from behind the net and Billy shot home from the left to put the Aces ahead and within a minute, Jason adds the fifth from in front. The game looked to have moved to the Aces’ advantage especially when Buffalo’s Etheridge took a late minor but any hopes of a conversion for 6-3 were dashed when Campbell converted a breakaway chance low down to leave the result at 5-4 and the final finely poised.

Perhaps we could have taken a bigger lead on the night but we hadn’t played for a month and a one goal lead was still useful.

0-1 01.14 Beere from Elliott
0-2 05.02 M. Jordan from Campbell and Page
1-2 05.41 Hewitt from Allen
2-2 31.52 Crawley from Allen SHG
3-2 34.31 Hewitt from Price and Dempsey PPG
3-3 44.01 Page from Campbell
4-3 52.53 Price from Allen
5-3 53.29 Hewitt from Dempsey
5-4 50.24 Elliott from Robinson SHG


Tim Dempsey 0+2, Greg Allen 0+3, Russ Richardson, Steve Michie, Brian Worrall, Nick Crawley 1+0, Jason Hewitt 3+0, Simon Mills,
Arran Richardson, Stephen Elliott, Billy Price 1+1,
Danny Higgin (36s, 4g, 88.89%), Phil Verstappen

SOG 42-36 PIMS 30-12