Building the Herd – Alex Symonds

#?? Alex Symonds

Position: Defence

Born: Caerdydd, Cymru

Announced as signed: Bison website, 10th May

After filling some key spots in the Bison forward lines and netminding, coach Doug Sheppard today moved to sure up the Herd’s defence with the announcement that Alex Symonds was joining Basingstoke by following Shep from the Slough Jets.

23 year old Symonds is a product of the Cardiff junior system…I feel like I’m saying that a lot recently. Symonds first appeared in senior hockey as a 16 year old for the Cardiff ENL Devils in 2004/05 whilst playing for the Devils U19 side.

Alex finally worked his way into the senior EIHL Devils side in 2006/07 where he made 36 appearances and tallying 1 assist. He also appeared in 10 games for Swindon in the EPL to aid his development in a season . The following season saw Symonds full time with the Devils scoring his first senior goal as he notched 2 points in 51 games.

The following year saw Symonds drop to the EPL as he headed north to Telford for 2008/09 where he had a career year with 14 points in 48 games with the Tigers. He moved to Peterborough to start 2009/10 but left after only 6 games to return to Cardiff where he remained till the end of 2010/11 scoring 10 points in the 82 game stint with the Devils.

Last season saw Symonds return to the EPL as he joined former GB U20 coach Peter Russell or so he thought. Under Doug Sheppard’s tenure in Slough, Symonds scored 12 points in 53 games as well as 1 point in the playoffs as the Jets won at Coventry.

So, right off the bat lets get this all out of our system. Oh looky, another Slough player followed Coach Shep and joined the Bison. Now that’s out of our systems, lets look at Alex shall we?

The obvious thing to say is that Symonds is a replacement for Sam Oakford and it’s likely a fair comparison. Both are low scoring, low PIMs, young British defencemen with a reputation for normally being defensively sound. I know some who prefer Oakford to Symonds and vice versa but I think Symonds certainly brings something different to the Bison. Whereas Oakford has stepped up to the EPL at a young age having come through the Bracknell system, Symonds has nearly 200 games worth of EIHL experience with Cardiff. He has experience at that higher level playing against better players and at times it shows. Symonds just goes about his job and makes very little noise doing it. I like these sorts of defenders. You don’t sign Alex Symonds to score 30-40 points off the back end. He gets his head down, he works hard and he shuts the play down. When you consider that some of my buzzwords on this blog for all of last season was “team defence” and “inconsistency” and generally using them together, convincing a player like Alex who can play top 4 minutes and kill penalties effectively can only go some way to addressing the balance.

Whilst we don’t know who Symonds will see regular time with, given Reynolds style and his ability to join the rush and liking to skating the puck out of the zone we might see the two of them together albeit more likely at even strength. Symonds can hang back as Reynolds ventures forward but with 2 out and out D men signed and still no idea what Sheppard will do with Captain Redmond it’s hard to pin down exactly what Symonds’ role will be at this moment in time. That said if you’d asked me to name a couple of young British defencemen I would like to sign, Symonds would be up there along with Lewis Christie of MK so I am delighted by this signing.

Welcome to the Herd, Alex. If you’d like to repeat last season’s performance and win a trophy we’d all appreciate it very much.


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