Building the Herd – Grant Rounding

#?? Grant Rounding

Position: Forward

Born: Johannesburg, South Africa

Announced as signed: Bison website, 11th June

New Bison signing Grant Rounding (#26) tries to slot the puck past his now teammate Dean Skinns. (c) 5 Hole Photography

New Bison signing Grant Rounding (#26) tries to slot the puck past his now teammate Dean Skinns.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

A week long promise came to fruition late last night as Doug Sheppard announced the first new member of the Bison roster for 2014/15 was the capture of Grant Rounding from local rivals, the Bracknell Bees.

When asked for comment on his signing, Rounding said “I can’t wait to play for my hometown club who I grew up watching and being a mascot for!”

South African born Rounding, 23 has almost been part of the furniture at Bracknell since moving to the club after starting his junior career in Basingstoke.

Grant progressed well through the various levels at the Hive going a point per game with the under 16 Stingers in 2005/06 before progressing to join the Drones, Bracknell’s under 19 (now under 18) side as well as making his ENL debut with the Hornets in the 2006/07 campaign. After two seasons of excelling and going over a point per game with the Drones, Grant joined the Hornets full time for the 2008/09 season and kept up a point per game pace with 22 points in 20 games in his first full season of senior hockey. His 2009/10 season wasn’t as productive with 8 points in 16 games but he saw a resurgence in 2010/11 where he returned to a point per game pace at the ENL and he made his EPL debut for the Bees scoring 1 goal and 1 assist from the 20 contests he dressed in.

Grant moved away from the Hive for 2011/12 season, joining the Isle of Wight Raiders. Originally paired with now Bison team mate Joe Rand, the impressive Rounding kept up his high scoring rate in the ENL and had 16 points from 16 games before injury curtailed his season.

After his rehab was complete, Rounding re-signed in Bracknell with the Hornets but was quickly thrust into the action at EPL level with the Bees. An injury to Oli Bronnimann forced then Bracknell coach Gareth Cox into calling up Rounding and his impressive performances saw him stay with the Bees for the remainder of the season scoring 3 goals and 6 assists in 49 games.

Grant was rewarded for his efforts with a full time Bees contract for 2013/14 and had an impressive season scoring 11 goals and 19 points in 52 games including the penalty shot winner for the Bees in Basingstoke back in November.

Novelty factor of having signed a South African aside (don’t worry folks, he’s EIHA trained remember), the signing of Rounding is a helpful addition to the Bison roster. The Bison thrived last season on the depth of the squad and being able to score goals across the lines and Rounding will certainly help there. 11 goals from last season playing on a combination of Bracknell’s 2nd and 3rd lines also speaks to Grant’s flexibility as to where he can be used by Sheppard. He’s able to play that checking line role when it is needed but if the lines need shuffling then he is more than capable of being on a scoring line when needed. If nothing else, that addition of another good penalty shot shooter to the team (go back and watch his game winning shot on YouTube) is never a bad thing to have.

Grant’s other big weapon in his arsenal is his speed. Able to get from one end of the ice to the other quickly as well as cause a headache for bigger, slower defenceman, this worked well for him when paired alongside Chris Wiggins and James Galazzi on the Bees’ third line last year. It was a line for the Bees that wasn’t afraid to mix it up and benefitted from having that extra added dimension Rounding brings to a line that is big on size and checking ability. It turned a grind line into a more potent offensive threat.

That speed offers other options for the Bison as well. Whilst the Herd are likely to not change much in terms of what plan A will be, a plan B that could include a true speed line of something like Rand or Karpov centring Melachrino and Rounding gives Doug Sheppard options when teams might be playing a gameplan that effectively counteracts what the Bison normally try to do. Rounding obviously isn’t the biggest of guys (his stats list him as 5’7” which makes him shorter than me!) but he can physically hold his own so it is unlikely that Coach Sheppard would be adverse to linematching him with encounters against large, physical defencemen.

The structure of the Bison forward lines is starting to take more shape as Rounding is the 8th forward announced. The club haven’t said how many forwards they intend to run nor do we know the likelihood of returns for Ciaran Long or Joe Greener as of yet so I’ll withhold judgement of who Rounding plays alongside until we know the full line up of forwards but I have to think some time regularly alongside Joe Rand and Nicky Chinn is both likely and beneficial for Rounding. If nothing else, Chinn feeding the puck to Grant will likely up his stats to the 15 goals that Sheppard is predicting for him.

Sheppard has signed a decent, young forward on the upswing and feels that Grant is worthy on a spot on what is a very established roster to replace a part lost in the off season. Some might argue that this isn’t a big name signing that maybe they felt was coming given the build up Sheppard gave it last week at Season Ticket Night but Rounding is a legitimate EPL talent that will make an impression. We get to watch him week in, week out now. Prepare to be surprised.

Welcome back to Basingstoke, Grant. No biltong jokes, I promise.


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