The second leg of the playoff finals would see the Aces taking a slender 5-4 lead to Hampshire. Aces’ line up included Kevin Cassidy who’d missed the home leg.

Basingstoke made a physical start and collected the first penalty at 1.33. The first real chance fell to the Buffalo as Danny Higgin made a great save to stone Wyatt on a shorthanded effort before Billy Price sent a chance just wide and went close again after a later passing move. The scoring started on a 4 on 4 spell as Brian Worrall fought past a challenge and put it past Buffalo goalie, Astill. Greg Allen just failed to find a gap soon after. Late in the period, Aces had failed to clear the puck whilst shorthanded and Danny needed to grab a puck creeping towards the line after an initial save. We were hoping Aces could keep the lead into the interval but it wasn’t to be and the puck went into space after a face off and Jordan netted into an open net.

Second period started well for the Buffalo as Newberry took the puck down the left wing and centred for Campbell to score. A hopeful shot from Greg squirmed through the keeper but just went wide before we had an escape when a wrap around goal against was washed out after Tim Dempsey had pushed our net off its moorings. Danny was called to the bench for a minute for Nipper to work on him not that Fatz seemed to agree he needed as Tim’s attempt at a rink length skate for the goal was stopped. With Danny back on, Aces equalized as Jason Hewitt slid the puck in just as he was being hauled to the ice. Danny made a couple of great off balance saves in quick succession before Simon Mills found Greg waiting on the blue line for a rink length pass and Greg skated in and scored high past the keeper. The lead lasted only three minutes with Buffalo equalizing on a 4 on 4 after the puck had been passed from behind the net for Phillimore to score at the near post. In a season of dodgy goal decisions against us, the worst seemed to come soon after as Jason set up Greg on a 2 on 1 for Greg to score high into the net – no red light and amazingly the refs didn’t seem to see it clearly. Justice was done after the next face off when Arran Richardson knocked the puck up and over Astill from in front of the net. Soon after, Kevin was sent off for crosschecking Campbell from behind – Kevin reckoned he hadn’t but we didn’t get a clear view of the challenge, Campbell missed the rest of the period. Jason was later hauled down in an unpenalised challenge as he too missed the rest of the period with a knee injury.

Aces took a two goal aggregate lead into the last period – could we hold on to it? Danny needed to make a good low save on 45 minutes and then Page fanned on a chance in front of the net. A quick passing move saw Nick Crawley set up Arran but Arran’s shot was just saved by the inside of Astill’s stretched pad to deny what could have been a crucial goal. Brian was giving a high stick penalty and when we over elaborated in defence and coughed up the puck, Etheridge slotted home. That gave the Buffalo the momentum they’d been seeking and soon after Danny was assessed a tripping minor and again with a puck not being cleared, Campbell scored from free space on the right to level the aggregate scores. Aces had plenty of chances in the last ten minutes without really creating a good one so a tense game was headed for ten minutes of sudden death overtime and penalties, if necessary.

A shot from Billy brought the first save in overtime, Aces repelled a Buffalo attack and Jason had a shot saved. Arran had two close in chances, Stephen Elliott was stopped in front and Tim shot over although it shouldn’t be thought that the Aces were all over Basingstoke. We hadn’t scored for 30 minutes and there must have been plenty of tired legs out there. The end came at 5.26, the puck wasn’t cleared from a face off in our end and with possibly both Russ and Danny losing their sticks, Morgan got the puck with an open net to score into.

So the end of our last season just short of the final prize but only one team could win and we’d competed really well over two great games that showed just what outside influence had denied us of last year. The Aces can hold their heads high for what they’ve achieved this season and before.

0-1 07.46 Worrall
1-1 19.37 Jordan from Campbell and Page
2-1 21.22 Campbell from Newberry
2-2 26.38 Hewitt
2-3 05.10 Allen from Mills
3-3 32.33 Phillimore from Wyatt
3-4 34.48 A Richardson from Mills
4-4 48.59 Etheridge from Beere PPG
5-4 50.24 Campbell from Jordan PPG
6-4 65.26 Morgan from Phillimore


Tim Dempsey, Greg Allen 1+0, Russ Richardson, Steve Michie, Brian Worrall 1+0, Nick Crawley, Jason Hewitt 1+0, Simon Mills 0+2,
Arran Richardson 1+0 (MoM), Stephen Elliott, Billy Price, Kevin Cassidy
Danny Higgin (64m 28s, 25s, 6g, 76.00%), Phil Verstappen (0m 57s, 0s, 0g)

SOG 25-33 PIMS 20-41