Goodnight and Good Luck – Matt Colclough

So we have gone down the two players that the club announced were released and we get on to the player who was announced by his new club but is still sort of part of the club…oh you’ll see in a minute as we bid a farewell of sorts to #93 Matt Colclough.

 

What have we lost?

Well in terms of having a goalie in the regular squad we’ve lost a netminder with a ton of potential. Colclough joined the Bison off the back of winning the ENL South 1 title with the Wightlink Raiders and many of us speculated as to how much ice time he would see. When Dean Skinns’ form dipped, Colclough found himself thrown in the deep end, seeing a lot of ice time and generally giving a really good account of himself. Wins like the one over Guildford in one of his first starts showed that he was very good at making point blank saves and could face the most fearsome shooters in the EPL. He was however, a touch inexperienced at this level and that did see him make mistakes. With the well documented defensive issues the team had this season, Colclough frequently found himself bailing the team out but he couldn’t stop everything all the time.

At 22 I thought he had the potential to be in the EPL for a few years and be a really good netminder which made the departure seem all the more strange until it was explained a bit later.

 

Where has he gone?

Matt has returned to the Wightlink Raiders of ENL 1 South to be their starting netminder for 2012/13 as laid out in their press release.

http://wightlinkraiders.com/2012/04/matt-colclough-returns-to-the-raiders/

Bar the minor factual inaccuracy (I’d say it’s arguable that Matt was our starting netminder at the end of the season when Wall started the last couple of games and both legs of the playoff tie) the release left Bison fans feeling disappointed because a lot of people wanted Colclough to stay and have a similar arrangement we seemed to have with Wall; one experienced goalie splitting time 70/30 with the young gun. Then Jeremy Cornish’s latest “Coach’s Corner” piece went up on the Wightlink website:

http://wightlinkraiders.com/2012/04/coachs-corner-17/

With the news that Matt will be on a two-way deal giving the Bison availability of him when Wightlink don’t have a game bodes very well as does the news that there will be other players on similar contracts with the Raiders. Whether 11/12 Bison players drop down to Wightlink or current Raiders players come onto 2 way deals, this bodes well for the Bison. The Raiders have a good set up and have been one of the top sides in that league for a couple of years. It’s also good to see the clubs banding together with player development in mind. Ultimately Matt gets a lot of game time which will only help him improve and hopefully come back to the EPL better than before.

 

Who replaces him?

At the moment, still nobody though the obvious thought is does Connor Standing step in as full time backup for the season? At Slough, Sheppard had Rockman start most of the games with little time for the backup so that’s a possibility but we’ll wait and see.

 

Final thoughts

In light of the news that Colclough remains part of the Bison organisation on a 2-way deal, this becomes a bit easier to swallow. The original press release from the Raiders made no mention of the link up with the Bison at all which left a lot of Bison fans, myself included wondering what was going on. Colclough, who had the best save percentage of all the 3 Bison netminders to ice last season was being allowed to leave for the ENL. It made little sense.

Luckily Cornish has come out and explained the game plan and it’s a good game plan. The amount of ice time that Colclough got this season was likely not part of the game plan and I’d venture that the plan wouldn’t be for him to see similar time this season either. This plan allows Colclough to get regular game time at a competitive level (at least I consider the top end of that league to be competitive) whilst training at the higher level and, with the Raiders sometimes only having 1 game a weekend means that Colclough can come in to the lineup as an added punch when required or if someone goes down injured. That seems a win/win to me. It also means that no other EPL side can get him in if they’re in a tight spot as he’s contracted to the Bison.

When it appeared that Moria wasn’t coming back, my initial thought of another season of a Wall/Colclough tandem went by the wayside but I did sincerely hope Colclough would return. This arrangement though will likely serve everyone just as well. Matt remains part of the setup and gets to play on a regular basis which is what he’ll want and need at this stage of his development.

All the best Matt, sure a couple of us will be popping over to Ryde to pay you a visit.

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