Building the Herd – Carl Graham

#81 Carl Graham

Position: Defence

Born: Reading, Berkshire

Announced as signed: 31st May, Bison website

 

Bison coach Doug Sheppard made it 3 defence minded signings in a row with the announcement that British defenceman Carl ‘Scooter’ Graham would be returning to the Bison for 2012/13.

Commenting on his signing, Graham said “it will be great to be playing back in the stoke, the team is looking great and I think we can challenge for all the trophies”

28 year old Graham spent last season down the M3 at The Hive with the Bracknell Bees. The Bees missed out on the playoffs on the last weekend in a disappointing season for the Berkshire outfit. Graham made 41 appearances for Bracknell (his lowest appearance total since 2006/07) scoring a personal EPL career year for goals (3) and PIMS (92). Graham finished the year with 8 points.

Graham first appeared in senior hockey for Slough in the 2001/02 BNL, making 3 appearances for the Jets before 2 full seasons with the Jets as they moved to the EPL as it was then. At the start of the 2004/05 season, Graham moved to the ENL with the Bracknell Hornets where he spent 2 seasons, playing 31 times and tallying 13 points from the blueline. A return to the EPL beckoned for 2006/07 as Scooter hopped on the ferry and joined the Wightlink Raiders where he played with current Telford assistant coach Greg Blais and Swindon forward Nicky Watt. Scooter tallied 8 points in 40 games before being summoned north and into the Elite League with Manchester. Graham spent 2 seasons in the EIHL with the Phoenix making over 100 appearances and scoring 3 points (all in his second season). Graham initially stayed with the Altrincham based side as they dropped to the EPL but after 2 games of the 2009/10 season he left for the Bees, scoring 5 times in 52 appearances. Carl then surfaced with the Bison for 2010/11 where he had a career year with 12 points as the Bison had their best EPL finish and made the EPL cup final.

So here we are again, Scooter’s back in town. From my writing perspective this is an easier one to write than some of the pieces I’ve done and will have to do. New players from inside the EPL means trawling the stuff I’ve written to see what I’ve said (if anything) to put together what I think we’ll see of a player. Players from outside the EPL (normally the imports) means doing a bit of research stats wise, occasionally trying to find video so I can have any sort of clue what’s going on at all and even then I likely won’t find much. Carl is easier because I’ve seen him play a fair bit and we all know why we’ve signed him; he’s a big lad with decent positioning who will throw hits.

With the announcement in the Basingstoke Gazette that Tony Redmond is moving to play forward for the season, Graham is the 4th defenceman on the roster with Reynolds, Symonds and Sullivan. Reynolds and Symonds are the two puck movers and scorers, Graham and Sullivan are now the two more stay at home players. With (likely) 1 import defender to sign it’ll be interesting to see how Graham gets fitted into the rotation. He likely won’t be put out with Sullivan too much due to their similarity in defensive style but Carl with either Reynolds or Symonds is a partnership you’ll likely see a bit of. If Kurt maintains the mean streak he developed last year, a D pairing of Reynolds and Graham will just be fun to watch. Basingstoke will have its own real life version of the Bash Brothers from the Mighty Ducks films (and considering how poorly acted those films were, they might even be better actors to boot!) Not that I get to coach but I also like defenceman in Carl’s mould on the penalty kill to clear the front of the net. He may well take a few cross checking penalties for it but one thing the Bison didn’t do well with last year was clearing the front of the net so someone like Carl (providing he’s not in the box himself) to stick close to the net and give the goalie room to see is always a valuable commodity.

A criticism that many will levy at Carl is he’s not the fastest skater, which is true. With size comes the disadvantage of not being that quick but with the 4 defenders now on the roster there’s a good mix of skills there to cover all the bases. Carl isn’t going to be the guy to lead the rush down the ice or be looking for the outlet passes too much. He’s been signed to be “gritty”; however you want to define that. He was good at it for us 2 seasons ago, he was good at it for Bracknell last season. Hey, if Carl suddenly decides he wants to be Nik Lidstrom and be a 40-50 points scoring defenceman then I certainly won’t argue with it but Sheppard has signed him to fill a role and that’s to play the game he’s played for the last few years.

Welcome back Carl, same as the last time you were here please.

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