Trib­utes for Bees star David

The Wokingham Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By TOM CROCKER

DE­FENCE­MAN Niko Suo­raniemi has left Brack­nell Bees just a month after ar­riv­ing.

The 34-year-old joined Brack­nell in late Septem­ber, played six games for the club and was named man-ofthe-match dur­ing the re­cent de­feat to Swin­don Wild­cats.

But he has swiftly moved on again fol­low­ing the ar­rival of new sign­ing David Mill­ner, who has taken Suo­raniemi’s place in the squad and made his de­but on Satur­day.

“I think Niko was ex­pect­ing to bring a lit­tle bit more and I was ex­pect­ing a lit­tle bit more as a player,” Bees head coach Doug Shep­pard told The Wok­ing­ham Pa­per.

“He’s a fan­tas­tic guy, ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with his at­ti­tude, it lit­er­ally came down to me see­ing an op­por­tu­nity to up­grade our team.

“David has played two years de­fence and he kind of ticked all the boxes.

“I’d like to see a lit­tle more of­fence with the amount of goals we’re scor­ing, but you worry about car­ry­ing a five-man D-Core if you get an in­jury and now we’ve got a guy that can step in and play both roles for us.”

Two-way for­ward Mill­ner ar­rives hav­ing played no ice hockey last season.

The Swede has spent his whole play­ing ca­reer in his home coun­try, but was on the look­out for a new club after mov­ing to Lon­don to study.

And Shep­pard has been im­pressed so far by the 26-year-old, who fea­tured in both of Brack­nell’s week­end wins, 1-0 over Streatham and 2-0 against Bas­ingstoke Bi­son.

“David didn’t play hockey last year and it was a good first im­pres­sion the way he played this week­end,” said the coach.

“For a guy who hasn’t played all last year, he’s got very good speed and skill.

“I think once he knocks off the rust he’s only go­ing to get bet­ter.

“He con­tacted us, I looked into his re­sume and he’s cer­tainly ca­pa­ble of play­ing at this level and do­ing a good job.

“I in­vited him out for a skate on Wed­nes­day, he came back Thurs­day and I thought it was cer­tainly worth giv­ing him a look in a game be­cause you never know un­til you put some­one in a game.

“I thought he did very well this week­end.”

Fol­low­ing backto-back de­feats, Bees im­pres­sively notched two clean sheets to clinch a four-point week­end with netminders Danny Mil­ton and Dean Skinns both pick­ing up a man-of-the-match award.

The wins keep Brack­nell top of the NIHL South 1 ta­ble and the win against Bas­ingstoke tasted even sweeter given Shep­pard and many of the new Bees squad made the switch from Bi­son over the sum­mer.

“There was a lit­tle bit of that for sure,” said Shep­pard.

“Ob­vi­ously any time you play against your old team there’s a lit­tle ex­tra in­cen­tive.

“But for me, it was more that we had lost two games in a row at home and we needed to get back to win­ning form at home.” Focus now moves onto this week­end with just one game for Shep­pard to pre­pare for. Brack­nell make the trip to Gilling­ham on Sun­day (5.15pm) to face an In­victa Dy­namos side who sit rock-bot­tom of the ta­ble with 11 losses from 11.

But Shep­pard is wary of the threat they pose, hav­ing pushed his team close back in Septem­ber.

“It’s al­ways a bit scary play­ing a team that hasn’t got a vic­tory yet,” he ad­mit­ted.

“They’re go­ing to be hun­gry for their first win, es­pe­cially at home. “We went there ear­lier this year and came away with a nar­row 3-2 win. They haven’t got a win but they have pushed some teams to the limit.

“We’ve just got to make sure we keep build­ing and mov­ing for­ward. “As long as we bring our best ef­fort, we’re cer­tainly look­ing to pick up the points there.”

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