Building the Herd – Alex Symonds

#?? Alex Symonds

Position: Defence

Born: Caerdydd, Cymru

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 1st October

Alex Symonds has returned to the Bison to bolster the defence. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Alex Symonds has returned to the Bison to bolster the defence.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

In amongst the news of the Herd’s larger partnering up with Barracuda Networks to the point the jerseys are being reprinted was the return to the Bison blueline of Alex Symonds.

27 year old Symonds played the 2012/13 season with the Herd, scored 11 points and was named the coach’s player of the year before spending the last two seasons as part of the Swindon Wildcats. Symonds played 95 games in Wiltshire scoring 32 points in the two campaigns. 2013/14 was a career year for the Welshman as he scored 23 points from the blueline.

Born in Cardiff, Symonds was a mainstay of the Devils junior system for a number of years playing at under 16 and under 19 level with distinction. He made his senior debut for Cardiff’s ENL side in the 2004/05 season and split his time between ENL and under 19 level for a couple of years.

Symonds progressed to the Elite League line up for the Devils in 2006/07 where he made 38 appearances alongside making 10 outings for Swindon in the EPL for extra ice time. He returned to Cardiff the following year and played the entire season for the Devils scoring his first Elite League goal and earning a GB under 20 call up into the process.

For 2008/09, Symonds moved to Telford for a full season in the EPL scoring 14 points in 48 games as the Tigers missed the playoffs. He started 2009/10 with the Peterborough but after just a few games found himself back in Cardiff with the Devils where he would remain until the summer of 2011.

After a couple of solid seasons for the Devils, Symonds returned to the EPL and signed on for Slough under coach Doug Sheppard. Symonds missed just 1 game of the league and playoffs as the Jets finished the season with the playoff title. Symonds then followed Sheppard across to Basingstoke the following season.

This one is a little bit of a surprise albeit not an unpleasant one. After the end of 2014/15, the word was that Symonds had retired from the sport so to suddenly have a solid, stay at home British defenceman land in the club’s lap is rather advantageous. With an undisclosed injury to Declan Balmer keeping him out of the line-up, the Bison’s defensive options were limited. Dan Lackey is only available via his two way so it was either make him permanent or see what else was available. The fact that a defender of Symonds’ quality has been talked out of (reported) retirement to join the blueline is certainly no bad thing. During his one season stay with the Bison, Symonds was very popular very quickly because he played a style that’s always popular in Basingstoke; not a massive points scorer but a big, physical player that takes the body when appropriate and has a high work rate.

The club haven’t announced Symonds as being a temporary measure so you have to assume he’s being planned for the long haul. With it not being known how long Balmer will be out, initially Symonds comes in as 5th defenceman till he can get back up to speed and then we go from there. The temporary loss of Balmer means that “hard hitter with size” role is filled nicely for the time being. Symonds is something of a “Doug Sheppard defenceman”; we know that Sheppard likes his sides to play with a really physical edge which is what he’s going to get from a player he’s signed twice before. Symonds will not be a flashy signing and he obviously needs to get back up to speed as quick as he can but he’s an EPL quality defenceman who can slot into the lineup now to give us a decent five man rotation and, if he stays when Balmer returns, we have one of the more solid six man units in the league. You have Reynolds and Vantroba as two of the better skilled defenders in the league. Reynolds, Vantroba, Baird, Balmer, Mogg and Symonds; that’s not bad reading.

Welcome back, Alex.

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