Weekend Preview – Two tough opponents ahead

It’s a tough weekend ahead for the Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees as they face Streatham IHC on the road on Saturday before returning home on Sunday to take on the Basingstoke Bison.

The Bees make their second trip of the season to take on Jeremy Cornish’s team and know from past experience it’s a tough place to go this season and get the points. Bees last trip to Streatham saw them without Ryan Watt but while #49 is now back in the lineup Josh Smith will be missing as he recovers from his injury last picked up last Sunday.

On Sunday night the Bees face the Bison in a much anticipated clash at the Hive. It’s the first time the teams have met this season. The Bison are now under the leadership of Ashley Tait and Tony Redmond. Redmond is no stranger to Basingstoke, with his jersey retired at the Basingstoke Arena, while Tait was a summer capture from Belfast Giants.

The team that defends the three titles won last season is a very different looking team from the one which won them. Alex Mettam and Dan Weller-Evans now form the netminding combo although the latter didn’t ice last weekend due to injury. With seven players following Doug Sheppard along the M3 and two retiring the Bison summer fortunes weren’t helped either by Captain and Alternate Captain Aaron Connolly and Dan Scott heading to the Raiders.

Upon his appointment, Tait had to build a new team with just four members of last season’s team remaining. Elliot Dewey, Paul Petts, Hallam Wilson and Dan Weller-Evans were the only players left from the nucleus of 17/18. Alex Mettam, Danny Ingoldsby and George “Gordon” Norcliffe all move from the Hive to Hampshire and there were internal promotions for Cam Buckle and Oscar Evans who both played a part last season.

Alex Sampford and Chris Cooke (Streatham), Adam Jones (Telford), Tom Ralph (Invicta), Rhys McCormick (Solent), Jay King (Edinburgh), Liam Morris (Northern Federals) and Sam Smith (Cardiff) were all persuaded to put pen to paper for the Bison this season.

With both Malinik and Karpov leaving this made way for two new non-EIHA trained players, forwards Michal Klejna and Richard Bordowski. Klejna is going at over a point a game this season after a lean 17/18 season with 6+5 from 25 starts in France 2. Bordowski is recording a point per game so far this season for the first time since 2011/12 and comes to the Bison after a long spell in Poland.

Bees Head Coach Doug Sheppard looked forward to the weekend; “We have a tough weekend ahead of us with Streatham and Basingstoke as both teams are in good form. We dressed our full line-up for the first time last weekend but Josh Smith suffered an injury on Saturday that will have him sidelined for a few weeks. I think it’s safe to say for anyone that has seen the photos of Josh’s injury, we are very lucky it’s only a couple weeks. This certainly puts our two game slide in perspective.”

Saturday’s face-off in Streatham is 5.30pm. Sunday is a “Ghoul Zone” game in the Bees School Zone. Doors open at 5.15pm and Face-off is 6.00pm.

Any supporters looking to book tickets for Sunday’s game can do so via telephone to 01344 789000