Goodnight and Good Luck – Sam Oakford

I seem to have articles coming out of my ears at the moment and this is only the beginning it seems. More news of people not returning to the Bison emerged today (Monday) with the news that British defenceman and alternate captain Sam Oakford had left the Bison.

What have we lost?

With Oakford gone, Bison lose one of the best young British defencemen in the EPL. Despite not having the best of years due to injury and the team’s inconsistency, when on form and fit Oakford is one of the best shut down defenders in the EPL. He always plays well above his years and showed good leadership even at 21 with Moria giving him the alternate captain’s A for the past 2 seasons.

The best thing about Oakford is, when all’s going well, you don’t notice him. His role isn’t to be the flash Mike Green type of defencemen joining the rush of the Dion Phaneuf type of defenceman crushing everyone who cuts across middle ice but to be the more the Marc Staal variety of defender who cuts the offensive play dead by dispossessing people of the puck of driving the play into the corners. Oakford’s is not an up and down kind of game. His is a consistent, high quality, old school defenceman’s play. He is, in some ways reminiscent of Brett Larson with better hair.

Where’s he gone?

After the finish of his university course in Southampton, Sam has moved back home to Ascot and has returned to the Bracknell Bees as they start their 25th anniversary season.

http://www.bracknell-bees.org/news-528-bees-start-25th-anniversary-season-recruitment.html

The Bees are coming of the back of a disappointing season where they failed to make the playoffs on the last weekend of the regular season, being pipped at the post by Peterborough and Oakford will be a welcome addition to a side that conceded close to 4 goals a game on average.

Who replaces him?

At the moment, still nobody but Wednesday night at Shep’s evening in the bar might give us some ideas.

Final thoughts

I’ll confess to being a bit disappointed with this one because if Sam isn’t heading to the EIHL I really wanted him back in Basingstoke. Defencemen like Sam are something of a rare commodity. He’s not in the mould of “Jonathan Weaver in his prime” d men but rather is a good old defensive defenceman and to have that on your team is a good thing.

It is entirely understandable however why he’s gone back to Bracknell. His personal circumstances have changed and he still has time to develop as a player and Bracknell, where he played his junior hockey and a club that has a strong development ethic is as good a place as any for a 21 year old to play. Add to that being close to where he lives it’s almost a no-brainer really.

I still maintain that really Sam should aim above the EPL but that’s his decision to make not mine. He was one of our most consistent performers over the 3 years he played for Basingstoke and we’ll be watching to see how he does at The Hive.

Thanks for everything Sam and all the best to you.

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