Tributes for Bees star David
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.”