Banners On The Wall 2012/13 Player of the YearPosted: 14/03/2013
After the nomination process produced the 4 finalists, the panel sat down and deliberated and all came to its conclusion and we are proud to announce the 1st ever Banners On The Wall Player of the Year.
Winner: #86 Joe Rand
“I have a lot of expectations on myself personally this year…” Joe Rand, 17th May 2012
Signed from NIHL 1 South’s Wightlink Raiders with some apprehension from parts of the fanbase, Rand has fast become a fan favourite during the season. His no nonsense style of play and work rate have constantly seen him shine. Not the highest scoring but arguably the hardest working member of the roster, he has played across all three lines with a variety of different line mates across the season with great success as well as being a valued asset on the powerplay and penalty kill. He has proven comfortable scoring goals through individual skill and through his grit and this was reflected in the judges’ discussions.
“He plays in all 3 zones, plays in the dirty areas some players don’t like to, in front of the net on the PP and digs in the corners and along the boards” said Bison website match reporter and award panel member Jamie Walker. “I’d say leads the team in hits by some distance. He can be a spark plug with either a hit or a goal whenever he is on the ice.”
Bison ladies player Hannah Driver was full of similar praise for Rand. “(He is) often overlooked for MOM because he is Mr Consistent this season. He gives 100% every shift without fail, looks as comfortable playing on a line with the less experienced players…as he does playing with the likes of Chubbs, Doug and Owen.”
Rand was the unanimous choice of the judging panel for the award and received 3 times as many nominations as the other players to qualify for consideration.
#30 Stevie Lyle
Having joined from the Cardiff Devils at the start of the season, much was expected of Lyle and he delivered time and again for the Bison. Award panel member Nigel ‘Moose’ Simmonds said “in my opinion, the best goalie in the EPL, by a country mile. Won us games pretty much single-handedly, on occasions early in the season (59 saves from 60 shots in Manchester, IIRC)”
Whilst a lot was made of results in the second half of the season, it is to Lyle’s credit that his stats remain so high given the issues the Bison have had defensively. Lyle will arguably be a 1st team EPL all star, an accolade that his play surely deserves and was rewarded with a place at the Olympic Qualifiers for Great Britain when Stephen Murphy succumbed to injury.
#24 Greg Chambers
The man that Jamie Walker called “easily the most talented player on the team” during deliberations only earned enough nominations to qualify late in the day but as the team’s top scorer was deserving of consideration.
Hannah Driver summed up what is good about Chambers’ from this campaign. “He has a great hockey head and awareness on the ice – clearly knowing when to pass and when to shoot himself has earned him more assists than any other player this season. He can frustrate the hell out of other teams and is strong on the puck.”
Whilst there was a lot of vocal opposition to Chambers’ signing at the start of the season and many still questioning his style of play, accusing him of playing too much on the perimeter, Chambers has proven his versatility during the season playing as both forward and defence and has scored goals in the clutch. Renewing his partnership with Greg Owen has seen both players excel at EPL level, terrorising defences across the league.
#23 Joe Miller
The only returning player from last season to make the list, Miller formed an early season partnership with Rand as well as working very well on a line with Chambers and Owen. Injury and the line shuffling that occurred have tempered his scoring a touch this season but Miller’s gritty and skilful combination of playing style continue to make him an asset of the ice. Moose went so far as to say he felt that “he works his socks off in games, but doesn’t get any recognition for his efforts”. As proved by the game against Guildford last week, Miller is a top class finisher and also possesses great speed on the ice.
Whilst the entire team this season have performed admirably and are all deserving of recognition, the panel felt that other players who weren’t nominated were worth special mention.
#7 Kurt Reynolds; a case of what might have been for the Bison and for Reynolds himself. The best British defenceman in the league and arguably the best defender including the imports as well.
#9 Greg Owen; the top British point scorer on the team was a surprise omission but all the panel felt that Owen has been a fantastic addition to the Bison. Owen has played his game, gone about his business with little fanfare and is arguably still one of the best British centremen.
#28 Doug Sheppard; the team’s 2nd top point scorer did exactly what I predicted he’d do…accumulate lots of points almost under the radar and work his backside off for the team.
#97 Joe Greener; having been booed out of the building the previous season in a Jets jersey, Greener has turned some views about him on his head. He has scored some clutch goals at times during the season as well as played a physical game with a large dose on intelligence with it.
A sincere thank you to Grant, Hannah, Jamie and Nigel for their time and to all who nominated. Many congratulations to Joe on winning and a thanks to the team for giving us something to cheer about and me to write about.
All photos courtesy and copyright of Grant King of 5 Hole Photography. Visit the website and buy a print.