The season starts here. Pre-season is complete and it’s time for the business to start as the Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees welcome back the Raiders to the Hive.
The Bees have had a couple of chances to see the Raiders now and ran out triumphant in both games but everything starts again this weekend and this time it’s for real!
The Raiders spent a period of “exile” in London but moved back to Romford towards the end of last season, taking residence in the new Sapphire Ice. Head Coach Sean Easton oversaw a successful 2017/18 season with the Raiders achieving a successful 4th place finish against many expectations after the EPL was merged with the NIHL1.
Over the summer Easton strengthened his line up adding Aaron Connolly and Dan Scott to play alongside fellow new signing Martin Jakubek and the returning Juraj Huska. A great deal of the nucleus from 17/18 was retained meaning despite Bees two pre-season wins an opening weekend win this Saturday isn’t a given so it’ll be a hard battle at the Hive.
On Sunday the Bees travel to Gillingham to take on the Invicta Dynamos. Coached again by Kevin Parrish, the “Mos” will see the Bees line up against Bracknell legend Matt Foord. Foord is one of many new players signed this summer including former Peterborough Phantoms import Martin Susters and former Bee Callum Best. Cameron and Grant Bartlett have both stepped up from NIHL2 with Chelmsford Chieftains and Brandon Miles has moved from Streatham. Goaltender Adam Long has signed from Hull to replace the departing Damien King.
Perhaps most surprising is that in a summer of change Parrish offered only six extensions to existing players meaning there’s a lot of newness in the 18/19 roster.
Looking ahead to his team’s all important opening weekend Doug Sheppard said; “All our focus at the minute is on Saturday night against the Raiders. They will have a couple of personnel changes to their line up this weekend and as a whole I expect we will see a different team altogether. We will have to be ready to play 60 minutes of our best hockey to get a result before then turning our attention to Sunday.”
The Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees will be in home ice action on Saturday at 6pm against Raiders IHC with a guaranteed £300 to be won on the 50/50. On Sunday at Gillingham face-off is 5.15. Parking at the Hive is free but we are expecting a bumper crowd so we recommend you arrive early to avoid the queues. Tickets can be pre-purchased via the Rink Box office on 01344 789000. Additionally Bees fans travelling on Sunday are reminded that parking charges now operate of Planet Ice Gillingham.