Goodnight and Good Luck – JJ Pitchley

After the release of Ralfs Circenis just two games into the season and amongst all of the insanity coming out of Swindon, Bison coach Doug Sheppard has released another player early into the 2015/16 campaign with the news that JJ Pitchley has departed the Herd.

The Bison dropped the news late on Friday that JJ Pitchley has been released from his contract. (c) 5 Hole Photography

The Bison dropped the news late on Friday that JJ Pitchley has been released from his contract.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

What have we lost?

JJ Pitchley has been one of those players long of the cusp of breaking into a regular EPL roster spot and is a player with the tools to be a mainstay top 6 EPL forward. A player that would walk into every team in the NIHL and score by the bucket load, Pitchley really was and is ready for an EPL spot. He has speed, he has good hands, good shooting ability and a lot of tenacity in his game. JJ is a goalscorer; he proved last season with Bracknell that rather than putting him on a line where he had to grind away (though he can do that role), if you put him into a position to get goals then he will get goals.

Where has he gone?

At the moment, nowhere but rumours abound of a return back towards Bracknell. Whether it’s the EPIHL or NIHL remains to be seen.

Who replaces him?

Technically, nobody but with the return to action of Grant Rounding around a month away there is another body to step into the Bison roster. I’d expect the Herd to wait and ice two way players rather than necessarily add a player to the roster.

Final thoughts:

“JJ came to the club with the chance to showcase his skill and talents at the EPIHL level. It hasn’t quite worked out how either of us thought it would and the only way he will continue to develop is by gaining ice-time, something which I am unable to offer him at this moment.”

The above, from the club’s press release is a pretty decent summation of a reason to release a player in a situation like JJ Pitchley; a player of Pitchley’s age and skill set is not particularly well served by rotting on the Bison’s bench getting the occasional shift to rest tired legs. Two-way players like Ryan Sutton and Jacob Ranson were visibly getting more shifts than Pitchley who was on the full time roster. Something had to give in that sense.

I asked the club if there was any further comment from them on the matter, the response was no. Rumours had abounded regarding Pitchley’s ability to play within the systems Sheppard employs and that when that didn’t work, the ice time was reduced, eventually leading to the release. Others have propagated different theories but there is nothing concrete or anything we’re able to confirm at this time.

The majority of Bison fans got a glimpse of what JJ Pitchley can do in pre-season and I maintain that he is a very good hockey player with a ton of potential. He skated hard, scored a few points and generally looked rather handy but it appears in the eyes of Bison management that the transition from the rather more free form pre-season where stuff gets tried out to the nitty gritty of EPIHL action inside one of the (when it works) most structural systems employed by a coach in the league just didn’t seem to happen.

This doesn’t mean that Pitchley isn’t decent, it means this one didn’t work this time. He’s a player that will (and should) be playing EPL hockey for a good long time. It’s just at the moment it won’t be in Bison colours. As long as we’re all aware that Murphy’s law dictates that if he picks up another EPL roster spot then he’s coming back and scoring a hat trick.

All the best, JJ; go well.

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