After a disappointing away trip at Planet Ice Bristol on Saturday after losing to the Pitbulls with the game ending 4-2, the TSI World Bees returned to the Slough Ice Arena for the last time in 2023 to welcome the Pitbulls and ended the year on a bang in a 7-4 thriller.

Bristol Pitbulls 4-2 Bees IHC 

A tricky start to the game for the Bees as Dominik Gabaj was called for Tripping less than 5 minutes into the game but the Pitbulls were unable to capitalise on this early chance. Some chances for the Bees against Ben Norton in goal for the Pitbulls as Ryan Webb was able to get the puck towards the net. At 10:35, Mason Lipsey was able to take the lead for the Pitbulls with an unassisted goal to see the first period end 1-0 in favour of the Pitbulls.No penalties were called against the Pitbulls during the first period but both Dominik Gabaj and Brendan Baird both received penalties. Brython Preece faced 22 shots on goal while Ben Norton faced 10 shots from the Bees in goal for the Pitbulls.

Pitbulls entered the second period with an early chance to extend their lead and they did exactly that as Dan Bradley was able to get the puck to the back of Brython Preece’s goal with a slap shot from just in front of the blueline. Gianni Vitali was quick to react to the success of Dna Bradley with a goal of his own timed at 25:21 to get the Bees back into the game with assists awarded to Adam Rosbottom and Oliver Knaggs. A manic 4 minutes for the Pitbulls were to come as Bayley Harewood faced a 2 minute penalty for Cross-Checking and shortly after Tanner Butler faced 2 minutes for Boarding as well as Adam Harding receiving 2 minutes for High-Sticks. This gave the Bees a 5 on 3 opportunity but the Bees were unable to create any chances that Ben Norton was unable to stop from getting to the back of the Pitbulls’ net. Brennan Feasey managed to further the Pitbulls’ lead after the chaos that had erupted in the Bristol penalty box with an unassisted goal timed at 30:47. Some words were exchanged between Elliot Lewis and Dan Rose that saw both of them face 5 minutes for Fighting. Not long before the penalties being served were nearly over, Bayley Harewood added another goal to the Pitbulls’ lead with Bari McKenzie and Tanner Butler receiving assists at 35:46. Brython Preece faced 9 shots from Bristol in the second period as Ben Norton faced 16 shots on goal from the Bees. 

A big period 3 was needed from the Bees in order to catch up with the gap that the Pitbulls had put in front of the Bees. There were no goals from the Pitbulls during the third period but there was a big offensive push from both teams to try to secure the 2 points. More chances for the Bees came from Gianni Vitali and Ryan Webb towards the Pitbulls’ net but were not able to get to the back of the net. At 59:28, Dominik Gabaj was able to score a power play goal, after Bayley Harewood faced 2 minutes for Tripping, with assists awarded to Marcel Balaz and Josh Smith. But this was not enough to catch-up with Bristol.

Bees IHC 7-4 Bristol Pitbulls

An opening period face-off for Pitbulls and early on into the game at 5:29 Adam Harding saw success to give the Pitbulls an early lead. A penalty called against Joe Baird for Hooking saw the Pitbulls go onto the power play and a very tight formation from Bristol saw Bayley Harewood take advantage of the man advantage at 14:57 with assists awarded to Bari McKenzie and Adam Harding. Less than a minute later, Gianni Vitali got the Bees on the scoreboard for the first time 2 nights in a row with Joe Baird receiving an assist on the goal. Before the period came to an end, Brennan Feasey managed to get the puck to the back of the net for the final time that period with assists awarded to Juha Lindgren and Tanner Butler.

Straight away in the second period the Bees started to have more of an offensive attack of the Bristol Pitbulls as there was more of a push to get up and close to Ben Norton to try to close the 2 goal gap between the 2 sides. At 27:04, Dan Rose managed to slot the puck to the back of Ben Nortons goal with assists awarded to Liam Morris and Joe Baird, then just over 3 minutes later Vanya Antonov equalised the game with a power play goal as Adam Harding faced a 2 minute Slashing penalty. Assists were awarded to Marcel Balaz and Harvey Stead. 

Desperate to take the lead at the start of the third period, Vana Antonov helped the bees take the lead for the first time on the night at 41:32 with Ryan Webb being given the assist on the goal to make the score 4-3. Then at 44:21, Ed Bradley got his first goal for the Bees this season to make the score 5-3 and Marcel Balaz and Dominik Gabaj were both given assists on the goal. A powerplay goal scored by Brennan Feasey saw a 1 goal gap between the sides after Gianni Vitali was called for holding the stick, Tanner Butler and Bayley Harewood were awarded assists on the goal. But not long after the Pitbulls scored, Juha Lindgren was forced to sit 2 minutes for Boarding and Liam Morris was able to capitalise on the situation in front of him by scoring a power play goal at 55:13, with Marcel Balaz and Harvey Stead receiving assists. The Bristol Pitbulls made the decision to pull Ben Norton from the goal to trade for an extra skater to try to make a come back but Dominik Gabaj managed to score an empty net goal with assists awarded to Marcel Balaz and Vanya Antonov to bag the 2 points for the Bees and end 2023 on a high for the Beearmy.