Goodnight and Good Luck – Ralfs Circenis

Only 2 games into the EPL season, the Bison have taken the somewhat unusual step of releasing a player in the form of 18 year old Ralfs Circenis.

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

What have we lost?

It’s actually kind of hard to know in a wider sense. Circenis came to the Bison as a player with a lot of potential and a good record for points scoring at junior and NIHL level as well as a reputation for being a player who played with an edge about him. Ralfs had looked OK in pre-season games though was visibly still adjusting to the speed at EPL level. I personally thought that he was going to be alright with time but he got minimal shifts in the league opener against Guildford and reportedly even less on Sunday in Peterborough. It seems like we’ll never really know the answer to the question for the time being.

Where has he gone?

At the moment, nowhere but given the club’s press release saying it was for his “development” I assume an instant return to the NIHL 1 South is on the cards and the likeliest location for him will be a return to Solent Devils where he had a fine 2014/15 season.

Who replaces him?

In some ways there are a couple of people; the Bison signing Alan Lack full time was a signing that was likely going to see a reduction in Ralfs ice time anyway given his impressive entrance into the team and how he seems to be being used by Doug Sheppard. The club have also announced the two-way additions of former Bison and current Wightlink Raiders forward Danny Ingoldsby and Ryan Sutton. Those guys, when they don’t have NIHL games will add some decent depth to the Bison’s forward ranks. Sutton’s signing in particular is just reward for a decent pre-season with the club.

Final thoughts

The press release for Ralfs’ release was short. Some people didn’t like that a great deal, wanting something more expansive but I can see why the club did it. Circenis hadn’t been with the club very long so there wasn’t any real reason to wax lyrical about such things which is fair enough. The club have also told me that the statement they released will be their only comment on the matter. At the time of publication there’s been no official comment from Circenis or his agent that I’ve been able to obtain.

This is a really hard one to initially get your head around. On the ice, Circenis didn’t really do anything wrong. He was decent if not a world beater at EPL level but he’d been in the league all of five minutes so it was a little hard to judge. In another 5 or 10 games he could have found his stride and this would have been a different conversation.

One thing we do know about Doug Sheppard is that he doesn’t really do knee jerk reactions to situations. He’s generally quite a thoughtful and considered guy so there must be more to this than the club are happy to talk about for me given how quickly this has happened. Sheppard has had the summer skates and now 6 games (4 pre-season and 2 league) to make a judgement on Circenis and just thinks that at the moment his time is better used elsewhere. With a raft of two-way signings to the club and the permanent addition of Lack, you can kind of see where they are coming from on the matter. It just feels very sudden and that’s what’s kind of unsettling. For those of you who remember Marec Dubec and how he didn’t work out in Basingstoke, we all kind of saw that coming whereas many of us hadn’t seen enough of Circenis to really gauge everything properly.

Hockey at this level has always been about comings and goings but I’ll confess that this one is a mild shock to have to do one of these so early.

All the best, Ralfs; hope you land on your feet.


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