Building the Herd – James SmithPosted: 22/11/2012
#?? James Smith
Born: Dundee, Scotland
Announced as signed: Bison website 21st November
With the news that Jacob Corson-Heron’s knee injury is season ending and other injuries to the squad, Bison coach Doug Sheppard has moved to strengthen the Herd again with the signing of Scottish born forward James Smith.
18 year old Smith is the brother of former long time Dundee Stars and current Fife Flyers forward John Dolan. Smith came through the Stars junior system and was lauded as an excellent prospect most of the way. In 2010/11 he made his first forays into senior hockey at 16 whilst also continuing his junior career. With the Dundee Junior Stars, Smith tallied an impressive 42 points (24+18) in 19 games whilst also scoring 37 points (19+18) in 15 games for the Dundee Comets of the Scottish National League.
These performances caught the attention of the big club as he was brought into the Stars fold for the 2011/12 EIHL season. Used sparingly as the extra forward, Smith dressed for 34 Elite League contests tallying 0 points and 7 penalty minutes which included a fight with Hull’s Bobby Chamberlain. Smith also appeared in SNL and junior action where he again put up very good numbers. Limited to only 7 games with the Junior Stars he still managed to average 2 goals a game on his way to score 25 points (16+9). In 11 SNL games for the Comets, Smith went over a goal a game as he finished with 24 points (12+12).
This season saw Smith change EIHL clubs as he followed his brother to local rivals Fife Flyers whilst remaining with the Comets for SNL action. Smith currently has 0 points in 4 EIHL games for the Flyers and 12 points (8+4) in 5 SNL games with the Comets.
Smith, who has been recommended to Coach Sheppard by former Newcastle Vipers head coach and current Flyers assistant coach Danny Stewart finishes his SNL career with a staggering 73 points in 31 contests for a 2.35 points per game average and in his last 2 seasons of junior hockey played 26 contests scoring 67 points which works out to 2.57 points per game.
I’ll start with a story that amused me today; glutton for punishment that I am, I read THF (The Hockey Forum). Now THF is a useful tool sometimes for promoting the blog as well as getting scores and news. Sometimes it’s a giant pain in the backside because some people don’t know how to hold an adult discussion on there. I logged on before work this morning to see that someone had started a thread to inform folks of Smith’s signing with a link to the article on the website. The first reply was from a fan of another EPL team (I will let you guess which one) saying “is that the sound of barrel scraping I hear?” What followed was a string of fans who had watched debuking that theory rather swiftly.
When this signing first looked like it might be happening I made a point of speaking to a couple of Dundee fans who all said similar things about Smith; that this is a good step for him. Consensus seemed to be that he’s gone as far as he can go with the SNL and he’s not going to get the ice time he needs to develop sitting on the bench for the Flyers or the Stars so the EPL is the place to go and we’re a team with a spot to fill.
Smith’s game appears that it’ll add a different sort of dimension to the 3rd line given his numbers at lower levels. He appears to be a much more natural goalscorer and given his words in his press release that he likes to score, hit and will drop the gloves, it seems that he will be a fan favourite and fill the void left by JCH well.
This is all tempered with a bit of realism which is necessary and we shouldn’t expect miracles straight away. Now don’t get me wrong, given what I’ve been told Smith should fit in right away but he will need time to adjust to the speed of this league. EPL is different from the SNL where he has dominated for a couple of years and he will see much more ice time than he has at EIHL level. It’s a transitional time for the young man and he’ll need time to bed in. Then again he may take to it like a duck to water but that remains to be seen.
It is however a good situation to be walking into for a young player. He was at a natural point to move to develop his hockey career and he comes onto a team that needs someone with his skill set and is currently top of the table. It’s a fantastic opportunity that hopefully works well for all concerned.
Welcome to the Herd, James. So a young Scottish player moves south to Basingstoke, stop me if you’ve heard this one before…