SHEP­PARD PLANS NEW ERA FOR BEES

The Wokingham Paper - - PROPERTY - By TOM CROCKER tcrocker@wok­ing­ham­pa­per.co.uk

“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

Raiders.

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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