Photo: Kevin Slyfield
10by10’s attention turns now to the last of the 4 ex-EPL teams: Bracknell Bees. Team captain Matt Foord gives us his thoughts on the season ahead at the Hive.
With the upcoming season looming, we are looking forward to getting back on the ice. Bracknell have made some significant changes this summer, the biggest being the appointment of a new Head Coach, Scott Spearing. Scott is an experienced British player who has played for Slough and Bracknell in the EPL and has elite league experience with Basingstoke. He started playing hockey at Bracknell having worked his way up the junior ranks. He has been a member of the Bees for 8 seasons so he knows the set up extremely well, from the juniors up. He has a great hockey brain and will bring a fresh approach to coaching the Bees. He is a proven winner, with a positive mentality, and he will bring fresh ideas to the team. He has excellent man-management skills and will get the best out of every player this year.
We have made some notable signings this year. In my opinion, one of the most important is the re-signing of Alex Mettam, who has proved he is one of the best British goalies in recent times. He is a great team player and a solid leader. Backing Metsy up will be Danny Milton. Danny played for the Bracknell Hornets last season, a solid goalie who wants to learn. He’s a great guy and will fit in perfectly in the locker room.
The marque signings are Jan Bendik and Frankie Bakrlik. Jan played 4 seasons with the Bees and made a noticeable impact on and off the ice. He is a solid, dependable defender who adds offence, and offers a wealth of experience having played in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany. Frankie is one of the best players to play in the EPL, his size and skill making him a formidable force. He is a proven winner who will be vocal in the locker room. He too has a wealth of experience, having played in Poland, Czech Republic and North America.
Some important British signings are Shaun Thompson and Alex Barker. Thomo has played in both the EPL and Elite league, a solid two-way player that will add offence and leadership on and off the ice. His work with the junior players is exceptional. Alex was our top British scorer last year and he certainly knows where the net is. He has a great shot and always finds open space.
We have also added Calum Best and Steve Osman. Both Besty and Ozzy will add offence, giving Bracknell scoring chances and valuable experience throughout the line-up. Also new to the Hive are forwards Jared Lane and George Norcliffe. Jared played last season with the Guildford Flames, a great skater with a broad skill set. He will be an offensive threat and will certainly add speed to our line-up. George played last season with Streatham. He is a hard-working player and has a good hockey IQ. I think he will have a great season with the Bees and will add strength and depth to our team.
Retaining the services of both Harvey Stead and Josh Tetlow is a big boost for the Bees. Harvey really developed from playing big minutes last season and will be a solid dependable part of our defence. He is a smart player who can make big hits at the right times. Josh is on a two-way with Nottingham Panthers and that will benefit the Bees no end. He really came on last season having more responsibility. Now training and playing with the Panthers, he will add so much to his skill set and I believe he will become a very important player for the Bees.
James Galazzi has re-signed for his 8th season with the Bees. Gazza has been an integral part of the team for many years, and adds grit and toughness to our line-up. He works hard every shift, a solid two-way player that will chip in with big goals.
We have also added Josh Martin, Tom Avery and Luke Jackson. Tom and Josh have both played for Bracknell Bees and Bracknell Hornets. Josh will bring a lot of energy and has a solid skill set. He works hard every shift and is a great character in the locker room. Tom will add patience and skill to our defence. He is very composed on the puck and has great vision. Luke is a young player that has played junior ice hockey in North America. He is a solid defender that plays hard and can make a good first pass. His size and strength will make him a dependable player for the Bees next season.
Also joining the Bees are Ben and Josh Ealey-Newman, Will Stead and Jack Hayes on two-way deals with the Hornets. Ben and Josh have both played for the Bracknell juniors before moving over to Slough. Both are very skilled with a great work rate and are eager to learn. Will is a product of the Bracknell junior club and is a good two-way player who is a good listener and works hard whenever he’s on the ice. Jack will be familiar to Bees supporters, having played last season. He is a solid defender who works hard and is a great player to have on your team. He improved dramatically last season and will continue to develop into a good player this year getting regular ice with the Hornets as well as some games with the Bees.
We have been training for a few weeks and the mood in the camp is very positive. We all feel we have a good team and believe we can bring back a winning mentality to the Bracknell Bees. It always takes a few weeks to get the feel and timing back but we seem to have hit the ground running and the practices have been really positive. Franky and Jan are due in on Wednesday, so will only have one full practice before our pre-season games. However, given that they have played for Bracknell before, they should just slot right back in. It is always exciting to get back on the ice after the off season but this year there is a different kind of buzz. We’re all looking forward to getting the season underway and making a big push for silverware.
New League Structure
This year, a new league has been developed using teams from both the EPIHL and NIHL. It is exciting as we get to play unfamiliar teams and play at new rinks. It will also give the fans a look at the new teams and hopefully Bracknell can get back into the better half of the league. The fans at Bracknell have always been very loyal and have helped keep a team on the ice in recent years, so it will be good to reward them and hopefully bring some silverware back to the Hive.
I think the Bees will not have any problems adjusting to the new set up. We have a lot of experience up and down our line up and the transition will certainly be made easier with the new signings we have made, especially those that have played against the new teams we will be facing.
I think the new structure will work well, with a lot of teams having agreements with Elite League teams and with the import numbers being confined to just 2, it will be a good development league for young British players, able to gain valuable experience playing in all situations at a very good standard.
Bracknell Bees started their season with a double-header challenge series against Swindon Wildcats last weekend resulting in a 2-4 away loss and a 5-3 home win. Their league campaign kicks off on Saturday 9th September with a visit to Milton Keynes Thunder.
You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link: http://482days.com/category/10by10/