Building the Herd – Dean Skinns

#45 Dean Skinns

Position: Netminder

Born: Basingstoke, Hampshire

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 24th April

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Doug Sheppard has continued with announcing the roster for the 2014/15 EPL season with the re-signing of the IHJUK second team all star netminder, Dean Skinns.

29 year old Skinns, a product of the Basingstoke junior system, made his debut for the Bison at 16 as he stepped in for Stephen Foster during a Findus Cup game and enters his 8th season wearing a Bison jersey as well as having had spells at Bracknell, Slough, Guildford and Swindon. Skinns won a playoff title with Slough in 2008 as well as the 2010 EPL Cup with Guildford before his impressive haul of accolades this season. As well as the all star nomination, cup and playoff titles, Skinns was voted the players’ player of the season and the Booster Club’s British player of the season. He finished the double winning campaign with a 2.81 goals against average and a save percentage of .901 alongside an impressive 1.75 GAA and .936 save percentage in the 4 games leading to the playoff title.

Skinns, who has played 128 regular season games for the Bison across 3 leagues, is a veteran of 380 EPL regular season contests and last season played every available minute bar empty net opportunities. With Skinns a mere 220 minutes behind club record minute playing netminder Curtis Cruickshank, “Deano” should break the record by playing 4 full games worth of minutes which would likely come in the second or third weekend of the 2014/15 campaign, injury or suspension depending.

Underneath the bigger story of winning trophies for the first time in nearly a decade and a half, one of the running themes was the return to Basingstoke of Dean Skinns.

Many were down on the idea to start with, his previous stint with the Bison having ended so poorly. I theorised back in July last year (link) that actually the reasons for Skinns’ departure weren’t just about Skinns but almost a perfect storm of incidents that saw the parting of the ways. I also theorised that actually it would all be ok. Blind squirrel finds the nut.

I said in Curtain Down 2013/14 that the Bison was a team where the whole was greater than the sum of the parts and two big parts of that were 1. The defence was built to suit Dean’s game and 2. Dean Skinns played the season of his life.

Now statistically that last statement isn’t true. There are seasons when Dean has had better numbers in terms of save percentage or goals against average or all sorts but just watching him and how he played and the end result he achieved as a result surely means this is the best. Skinns came in, played with a real chip on his shoulder, was well supported by his defence and it came good. He made the big stops at the big times, he played the puck confidently and he looked comfortable when he hadn’t before.

That’s not to say it all went swimmingly last season and there were moments when Skinns let in a bad goal and his dropped a little but there were also moments when he let in a bad goal and came back to stand strong. The second leg of the cup final might be the best example of that when Dean let in an awful goal (and I still see it in my nightmares) but he shrugged it off, refocused and saw the job through.

That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement. Ultimately there always is and arguably better numbers are something that could be demanded of Skinns by Coach Sheppard but Skinns’ role within the team is part of just that; a team. We’re not a club riding a netminder, the Bison last season were a team that happened to have a really good netminder as part of the mix.

The chaos factor in this piece at the moment is that we don’t know the make up of the defence as a whole. A large part of the Bison’s success was the netminding and defence as a unit. Whilst we’ve lost Carl Graham, the retention of an all star defenceman and all star netminder helps a lot but we need to wait and see what other parts of last season’s defence return and what new parts are added. The questions that were fairly, in some cases unfairly, asked about Skinns’ quality and what he will do are now firmly answered. Only one question remains; what can Dean Skinns do next?

Welcome back Deano.

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