SHEPPARD PLANS NEW ERA FOR BEES
“I THINK the potential is massive in Bracknell.”
Those are the words of Bracknell Bees’ new head coach Doug Sheppard as he prepares his side for the start of the new NIHL season this weekend.
Canadian Sheppard was announced as the new Bees boss back in May, making the switch from league rivals Basingstoke Bison following a highly successful seven-year spell which culminated in a treble-winning 2017/18 campaign.
And he says the time was right to make the move.
“I just see so much potential in Bracknell,” Sheppard told The Wokingham Paper.
“It was a new challenge for myself.
“I do live locally, living in Wokingham and I think the potential is massive in Bracknell.
“I’m excited about the new challenge and I think it’s gone well to this point.
“But everything is geared up for the regular season when the results start to matter.”
Sheppard has overhauled the Bees squad, bringing in a number of faces he worked with at Basingstoke including Vanya Antonov, Roman Malinik and netminder Dean Skinns.
And fans will be hoping the changes will give the club a muchneeded boost after several years of struggle.
The tide appeared to be turning under Scott Spearing’s leadership last season, only for results to nosedive before a disappointing play-off loss against London
Spearing remains at the club, taking on a new role as playerassistant coach, and Sheppard is confident he has built a squad capable of challenging for honours again.
“I think we’ve certainly got a very competitive team this year,” he said.
“Not only do we have good players, I think we’re surrounded by very good people so that’s key as well.
“I think we’ve got a great mix of talent and character in our locker room.
“It’s great that we’ve got a few guys that have been around and are familiar with Bracknell like Scott, Gazza (James Galazzi) and Thommo (Shaun Thompson). We’ve got guys that have been in Bracknell for years and we’ve also got some new guys coming in.
“A lot of the guys that have been brought in are guys that have been in Bracknell before.
“It’s great that they wanted to come back and look to have a successful season this year.”
He added: “It’s going to be a very competitive league. There’s not much between quite a few of the teams.
“I do think we’ve got a team that is certainly capable of competing every night.
“Every time we ice up this year, we’ll be expected to win the game. Is that going to happen every game? No. But I do think we will have the type of team that can match up with anybody.”
Bracknell have had mixed results in pre-season with a pair of defeats against Swindon Wildcats followed by a brace of victories over the rebranded Romford Raiders at the weekend.
Goals from Galazzi, Aidan Doughty, Thompson, Ben Paynter and Spearing guided Bees to a 5-2 away win on Saturday before a Doughty double and strikes from Malinik, Brendan Baird, Josh Smith and Antonov earned an equally impressive 6-3 win at The Hive on Sunday evening.
And Bracknell will face Romford for the third time in a row when the pair face-off at the John Nike on Saturday (6pm) in the league opener.
The Bees then go to Invicta Dynamos on Sunday (5.15pm) and do not face any of last season’s top four until October.
“You can’t take anyone for granted,” said Sheppard.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or where they finished last year.
“It’s a fresh start. Everybody starts with a clean sheet and we certainly won’t be taking anyone lightly.
“I’m sure our games last weekend against Romford were a bit of a chess match.
“You don’t want to show a whole lot.
“We want to start gearing up for this weekend but I’m sure both teams are going to have a different look come this Saturday than the previous weekend.”
He added: “I hope the fans are excited.
“There has been a bit of hype about the Bees this off-season and now it’s our job to go out and perform on the ice for the fans.” For more sports news, see
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