Building the Herd – Shaun Thompson

#13 Shaun Thompson

Position: Forward

Born: Slough, Berkshire

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 23rd April

So good, he's back for more; Shaun Thompson is the first new face on the Bison roster for 2015/16. (c) 5 Hole Photography

So good, he’s come back for more; Shaun Thompson is the first new face on the Bison roster for 2015/16.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

Off the back of a couple of departures from the club, coach Doug Sheppard announced the first new addition to the Bison roster for 2015/16 with the return to Basingstoke of Shaun Thompson.

27 year old Thompson spent 2014/15 with the Manchester Phoenix tallying 19 goals and 25 assists for 44 points from 46 games with the Phoenix as they made the cup final and playoff final with Thompson staring in Manchester’s semi final win over Milton Keynes with two goals.

The former Slough junior first appeared in a Bison jersey in 2003 whilst still playing for Slough’s under 19 team as he went 2 points per game whilst earning his way in the EIHL Bison side under Steve Moria and Mark Bernard. Thompson started the 2005/06 season with the Bison but after 5 points in 17 games moved to Bracknell where he quickly rocketed up the scoring charts.

The following season, 2006/07 was a banner year for Thompson and Bracknell as the Bees won the league and the playoffs with Shaun at the forefront of the scoring being 4th on the team and scoring 8 points in 6 playoff games.

Shaun remained with Bracknell until 2008, guesting for the Bison and the Nottingham Panthers during his time at The Hive before he returned to the Bison during club’s final EIHL season in 2008/09. What started as a season of promise for the Bison quickly deteriorated and Thompson, who started the season on the 3rd line, was thrust onto the top line and 1st unit powerplay as the Bison roster dwindled and lost game after game.

As the Bison dropped to the EPL, Thompson remained in the EIHL as he signed with Hull but would move back to Basingstoke just before the signing deadline and he has remained in the EPL ever since.

After a year at Slough in 2010/11, Shaun spent another 3 seasons with Bracknell before bizarrely being released amidst somewhat controversial circumstances at the end of 2013/14 where the club claimed it was moving in a different direction and Shaun claimed that the club pulled a contract offer when he asked for time to consider it. Bracknell’s loss was Manchester’s game and Thompson proved a popular player in Lancashire with his hard working style.

In some ways this isn’t to be expected; the locally based player who ended up playing miles away from home moves back to be closer to home whilst the team miles from his base and his job experience something of a crisis. This also needs coupling with the fact that Shaun Thompson is exactly the kind of player the Bison need given the two forwards that have been confirmed as leaving in the last couple of weeks.

His passing and scoring abilities are such that he can be used in a variety of different situations but where are we likely to see him? Given his ability to play as a centre, it is likely that Thompson gets used on the second or third line in the middle. His passing and puck distribution is very good for EPIHL level and with the loss of Nicky Chinn, the Bison are in need of a really good transitional, puck moving centre. Thompson has the ability to be that guy.

However let’s not forget that in his EPL career, Thompson is a point per game British player. When I say he might be used as a third line player, don’t get it twisted; Doug Sheppard is not going to hide him away and give him five minutes a night. Sheppard’s coaching over his tenure in Basingstoke has tended more towards running 4 lines more in the last couple of years but also wanting grit and offence across all the lines, especially the top three. If you weren’t privy to Thompson’s performance in this year’s playoff semi final for Manchester against Milton Keynes, he scored two goals and checked everyone in sight. Yes, I’ve also said that game was an awful game to watch but Thompson was certainly a bright spot in it. Imagine that sort of game replicated for us across the season.

Shaun’s obviously a bit more advanced in years since he was last here, he’s more set into what his game is and Sheppard is going to want to play him to his strengths to benefit the team rather than asking him to radically change his style (though if you want to be the team’s token forward that plays on defence for a few games, knock yourself out).

The big thing that the Bison will want from Thompson is to maintain his consistency. Since 2010, Thompson has missed 5 regular season games and not scored less than 40 points in a season. Whilst the Bison under Sheppard aren’t ones for blowing teams out there are currently 4 forwards confirmed as playing next season in Greener, Karpov, Long and Thompson who between them scored 100 goals in 2014/15. Add that into him being pretty good in the faceoff dot and I’d say we’re into something of a winner.

Shaun’s no stranger to playing in what Bavy calls “our humble little palace”. He knows what the fans are like and what they’ll expect though the club has had something of a culture change since the last time he was here. There’s more an element of expectation to compete and be near the top of things and challenging. Having just spent a year with Manchester, I think this slightly modified experience back down south won’t faze him a bit. Hopefully he has more games like that semi final for us.

Welcome back Shaun, no more #73 for you.


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