Weekend Preview – We hit the road for the big one

The season is now done as far as games in Berkshire go but the Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees have qualified for the flagship national finals weekend being held at Coventry Skydome this weekend.

The Bees and Peterborough Phantoms take the places from the Britton Conference as the South’s two best play-off teams while the Moralee Conference is represented by Hull Pirates and Sheffield Steeldogs.

The weekend opens with the Bees in action on Saturday at 1.30pm against Hull Pirates, winner of the Moralee Conference and Conference Play-offs. It will be a first meeting this season between the teams.

The Pirates have an impressive record this season, winning the North 1 league, edging Sheffield Steeldogs into second place. Dropping only four games, two of them in overtime, through the regular season they’ve netted an impressive 329 times in their 36 league games.

Winning their Play-off Quarter-Finals against Sutton Sting 29-4 and their Semi-Finals against Whitley Warriors 17-6 they lined up against Sheffield in the final. The first leg ended 7-7 but on home ice the Pirates came good with a 6-2 win to secure the title.

It’s perhaps no surprise that Hull Pirates dominate the Northern Play-off stats with Jason Hewitt leading the way with 11+12 from just 6 play-off games. Matthew Davies, Sonny Karlsson, Bobby Chamberlain and Lubomir Korhon complete the top five scoring stats recording 84 points across just the post season to date between them.

Joseph Gent has started all six play-off games so far with a 90.48% save percentage, coming in behind Sheffield’s Dmitri Zimozdra who missed a game due to a match penalty awarded for slashing at 49.44 in the first leg of the final.

The Bees face Hull at 1.30 on Saturday with the second semi-final being the Phantoms vs Steeldogs game. With the outcome of the discipline review not known at the time of writing on the Zimozdra match penalty the worst possible outcome for the Steeldogs would see them compete without their starting netminder. The second semi-final takes place on Saturday at 5.30pm.

A win for the Bees over Hull on Saturday would see them contest the Grand Final of the Final Four weekend on Sunday at 5.00pm against the winner of the Phantoms vs Steeldogs Semi-Final.

Head Coach Doug Sheppard looked ahead to the weekend; “We’ve drawn the overall number one seed on Saturday. Hull are very skilled and as dangerous a team offensively that we’ve seen all season. It won’t be easy but we’ve shown when we play our game we’re capable of beating anyone at this level.

All the players are excited for the challenge and want to give our amazing fans a reason to be loud as ever in Coventry.

Bees take on Pirates at 1.30pm this Saturday at Coventry Skydome.