Building the Herd – 2015 Two-Way contract additions

On the eve of the Bison’s first pre-season game against Milton Keynes, the Bison announced a bolstering of the line up with the addition of two way contracted players. All four are set to be part of the pre-season games against the Lightning and Guildford Flames.

Alan Lack (forward)

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

23 year old Lack is yet another product of the very successful Bracknell junior system, making his under 16s debut 11 years ago with the Bracknell Worker Bees. Lack worked his way through the junior ranks at The Hive before moving on to time with the Hornets and the Bees with 2012/13 being his first full season in the EPL. In September 2013, Lack moved to Kent to join the Invicta Dynamos but struggled to settle and struggled to find work outside of hockey so returned to Berkshire joining Slough in their final EPL season scoring an impressive 23 points from 40 games. This led Slava Koulikov to sign Lack to his Phantoms side at the start of last season but a mixture of family and work commitments saw Lack leave for London (formally Romford) Raiders at the start of 2015. Lack will play for the Raiders this coming campaign as well.

I really like Alan Lack. I have a theory about players like this, the agitator/rat/niggly player/whatever you want to call them; sign the best one you can. Lack’s age means that he can play a maximum of 3 games in the league for the Bison before they either sign him permanently or leave him in the NIHL and I have to confess, the hockey fan in me wants them to bring him onto the roster permanently if possible. There’s a level of grit, checking quality and sheer determination that makes Lack a very useful commodity at EPL level and hopefully he impresses enough to be kept on.

Dan Lackey (defence)

25 year old Lackey will be no stranger to Bison fans. A Basingstoke boy and product of the junior Bison, Lackey played for the junior club and has been a mainstay of the NIHL2 Basingstoke Buffalo since 2007/08. Lackey has played a total of 16 games for the Bison, his last coming in 2011. Lackey had a year out of hockey in 2013/14 before returning to hockey in 2014/15 where he made 12 appearances for the Buffalo and guested in a game for Solent Devils. Lackey has a total of 111 league games for the Buffalo with 118 points from the blueline.

Lackey is another player that can only play a maximum of 3 games for the Bison in the season but is another who can probably earn himself a full time roster spot as the 6th defenceman if he impresses in pre-season. Whilst many would wonder the point of adding a 25 year old who has spent the majority of his career in NIHL2 to the roster, Lackey is an experienced, reliable and determined player who has impressed for the Buffalo in his years with them. He didn’t stick last time with the Bison but with some more experience behind him, he will certainly be a useful player to have on hand should injury dictate.

Jacob Ranson (forward)

20 year old winger Ranson is available to be used throughout the season. Having spent time in the Romford and Chelmsford junior systems, Ranson moved to Canada and was a part of the Pursuit of Excellence hockey academy in Kelowna, British Columbia for 2 seasons. Ranson moved to Sweden for 2012/13 to play for the under 18 side of Mjölby making 20 appearances and scoring 5 points. Ranson came back to Britain in 2013 starting the season with the London Raiders before moving to the MK Thunder in the January. Ranson returned to the Raiders for 2014/15 scoring 16 points in 36 games before agreeing to move to Invicta for the coming campaign. Ranson finished the campaign for the Raiders as player’s player, coach’s player and supporters’ player of the season.

I’m not overly aware of Ranson but the word on the lad is that he’s quick and plays both ends of the ice well. Experience in Canada and the very competitive Swedish junior league, even for a season will stand him in good stead. Raiders fans as well like their players to be full of energy and effort so to sweep the board in the end of season awards like that in a team that included Lack and former Bison Liam Chong speaks volumes about the young man’s potential.

Alex Sampford (forward)

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

The Basingstoke born former Slough junior, Sampford turns 19 in October and will be focussing this season on really establishing himself as a regular at NIHL level. After originally signing for Solent early in the summer, Sampford has instead moved his way across the water to join Jeremy Cornish and the Wightlink Raiders. Sampford made his senior debut with the old Slough NIHL2 side in 2013 before heading to be a part of the junior Bison and Buffalo in 2013/14. Last season gave Sampford a chance to show Bison fans his talents after 4 impressive performances in the Challenge Cup and his debut Bison goal against Invicta. Sampford also managed 1 league appearance. After the chance arose for Sampford to move to the NIHL South 1, he moved to Gosport and impressed with the Devils going a point per game.

As mentioned above, I’m not convinced we see a great deal of Sampford this season as this is a year for him to really get to grips with regular games with frequency at a level above what he has been playing. A full season of NIHL1 time with training and occasional Bison appearances is what I predict. Sampford is more one for the future than the now but if that chance arises for him at EPL level, I look forward to seeing what he would do with it.

Welcome aboard, guys.

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