Weekend Preview – Pre-season starts with the Wildcats

The time for talking is nearly done as pre-season starts this weekend. With two weeks of pre-season games the Bracknell Bees will be looking to hit the ground running when the season starts.

It’s been a big summer in Bracknell with treble winning coach Doug Sheppard joining the Bees as Head Coach and a busy summer planning on and off the ice is almost complete. Sunday will be the Bees’ fans first chance to see the new scoreboard screens in action and the fans will also benefit from the new netting installed around the rink.

On the ice is a mix of Bees fan favourites and fresh new blood to the Bees as Doug has built what he believes to be a title contending team. Bees regulars like James Galazzi and Scott Spearing will be joined by returners including Ryan Watt and Vanya Antonov and new blood like Roman Malinik.

Opponents for the opening weekend of pre-season are Swindon Wildcats. The Wildcats have been long running opponents of the Bees, locking horns through the EPL years and continuing that rivalry into the NIHL1 era. Head Coach Aaron Nell moved to retain a core of his team from last season losing only Oliver Stone, Phil Hill and Matthew Smital. There’s been a lot of promotion from within the Wiltshire hockey programme with Elliot Randal, Loris Taylor and Michael Crisp all joining up from other Swindon teams as well as Tyler Perre from Okanagan Under 18s. Other new additions are Tyler Plews from Edinburgh Capitals and Adam Harding’s return from Dundee Stars.

Familiarity comes from regulars like Maxim Birbraer and Jan Kostal forming the non-EIHA trained duo with Sam Godfrey, Ben Nethersall, Neil Liddiard and Stephen Whitfield returning on defence and Luke Johnson, Chris Jones, Edgars Bebris and Floyd Taylor all re-signed up front.

The jewel in the Wildcats crown is Player/Coach Aaron Nell who will lead the forwards while coaching the team again this season.

Head Coach Doug Sheppard looked forward to his new team’s first outings this weekend; “It has been a busy summer getting everything ready on and off the ice, trying our best to provide a better match night experience for our loyal supporters. Now it’s finally time to get down to the part we all love, it’s time to get on the ice and into the zone and I’m excited to get the games going.

This weekend will be a very good test and a gauge to see where we’re at as Swindon will be one of the top teams in the league. We’ll see the team on a smaller ice pad Saturday and our larger pad on Sunday. It’s a good opportunity for me to try some good combinations and give everybody a chance on special teams. We’ve got a very deep line up and we’ll start having some friendly competition for ice time.”

Bracknell travel to Swindon for Saturday’s challenge at 6.15 while the Wildcats will be the first visitors to the Hive of the season on Sunday with a 6pm face-off.

Tickets for the home game are available from the rink box office and season ticket holders are reminded that the game is included in their season ticket package.