Building the Herd – Matt Towalski

#?? Matt Towalski

Born: Stafford, Staffordshire

Position: Forward

Announced as signed: 24th December, Bison website

Matt Towalski (left, #21) swaps the Hive for the Herd. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Matt Towalski (left, #21) swaps the Hive for the Herd.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

With the unfortunate news that Grant Rounding has suffered a potentially season ending injury, Bison coach Doug Sheppard has moved quickly to secure the signing of veteran forward Matt Towalski from Bracknell.

31 year old Towinski is a product of Slough’s junior system, making his senior debut for the Jets in the old BNL during the 2001/02 campaign. He made the step into the Jets side full time as Slough moved to the EPL the following season, making 85 appearances over the following 3 campaigns and scoring 45 points in the process.

In 2005/06, Towalski changed his scenery and headed to the Thunderdome to join the Milton Keynes Lightning. Towalski would spend the next 7 seasons with the Lightning, becoming a fan favourite in the process for his no nonsense and dedicated displays. He was on the 2005/06 playoff winning roster and took home a league winners medal in 2009/10 in amongst his 325 regular season and 28 playoff appearances for the Lightning, finishing his career in MK with 139 points in all competitions.

At the end of the 2011/12 campaign, Lightning coach Nick Poole made many changes to the MK roster which saw a number of players, including Towalski, released. Towalski and then team mate Michael Wales headed to Slough and both slotted well into the side for the 2012/13 season which saw Towalski score 23 points in 54 games. The next season however was the infamous final season in the EPL for the Jets. Wales left to join the Bison and ended up with a league and playoff winner’s medal, Towalski stayed as part of a Slough side that under Craig Moran didn’t win many games but gave chances to up and coming Brits and gave as good as they got for the remainder of the campaign.

With Zoran Kozic’s decision to remove the Jets from the EPL and the efforts of others to reform a Slough EPL side sadly failing, Towalski took his talents across Berkshire in 2014 to sign with Bracknell where he has remained until today.

Towalski’s EPL career spans 699 league, playoff and EPL cup games (it’s over 700 if you include the EIHA challenge cup with games against NIHL opposition) and 305 points.

Towalski is also a former GB junior international, winning bronze with the GB under 18s in 2002, as well as silver (2003) and gold (2004) with GB under 20s.

As the press release today stated really accurately, poor Grant Rounding just can’t catch a break. However as a stand-in for the third line with a bit of penalty kill and powerplay time into the offing, Matt Towalski is not a bad addition.

This all seems somewhat familiar doesn’t it? A Berkshire based rival of the Herd starts suffering with financial issues, starts shedding players and an elder statesman who may not set the world alight points wise is added to the roster to provide a bit of extra depth, secondary scoring, leadership and grit to the roster. Wherever he’s sunning himself in Dubai, I’m sure Michael Wales is smiling at the news.

It’s been a weird season at Bracknell to say the least and Towalski’s recent absence from the roster has naturally led to rumours that both he and David Savage were “holding out” until they were paid what they were owed. It was a shame in more ways than one because 12 points from 17 games this season meant that Towalski was certainly contributing before issues arose.

As I intimated to above, the Bison are not signing Matt Towalski to come in and set the world on fire with his goals but it’s a really timely signing. With a few injuries in the camp, he is an additional body to put on the roster and with the charge for three trophies still very much alive that extra bit of depth to the roster is going to prove vital down the stretch.

With the injuries, it’s a case of Towalski being put into whatever spot is needed on the roster at the moment but I venture a place alongside Aaron Connolly is not unlikely even with the roster at near full strength. That sort of gritty line that can crash and bang when required but also provide additional scoring if the top line doesn’t fire quite as well as we know they can.

It’s a very Doug Sheppard signing this one. Many people (myself included) had wondered whether adding David Savage to the roster might have been the move made but this is what we get instead; a player who goes through the wall and will do anything and everything asked of him. With Sheppard himself reportedly adding himself to the lineup over the weekend due to the injury to Tomas Karpov, this is going to be a very gritty Christmas.

Welcome to the Herd, Matt.

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