Building the Herd – Rene Jarolin

#35 Rene Jarolin

Position: Forward

Born: Skalica, Záhorie, Slovakia

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 19th May

After joining midway through the season, the popular Rene Jarolin returns to the Bison for 2016/17. (c) 5 Hole Photography

After joining midway through the season, the popular Rene Jarolin returns to the Bison for 2016/17.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

Hot off the heels of the announcement that the EPL has raised its import limit, Bison coach Doug Sheppard announced the second import to for 2016/17 with the return of Rene Jarolin.

The Slovak, who will turn 35 just after the start of the new season, started the 2015/16 campaign with the MK Lightning and was released after an inauspicious start where he scored 5 goals and 22 points in 20 games. With Joe Rand taking a step away from the active roster, Doug Sheppard snapped up the former EIHL top goalscorer and it was an instant hit. Jarolin scored 24 goals and 51 points in 35 games as the Bison secured the league title and Rene was awarded with a spot on the all-star team’s second line.

Making his pro debut in 2000 with Spisska Nova Ves, Jarolin made his Slovak Extraliga debut with hometown side HK 36 Skalica in 2001.

Rene stayed with Skalica until deep into the 2004/05 NHL lockout season that saw Jarolin play with Ziggy Palffy before moving to Zvolen for a run at the playoffs. Jarolin bounced about for a bit between Skalica and Slovan Bratislava before finding a home with SKP Poprad in 2006/07 staying there till 2009. Jarolin went back to Skalica for another two seasons before he got a call to go overseas.

Jarolin accepted the call from Scott Neil to join the Edinburgh Captials in 2011 and proved an instant hit with the Murrayfield fans as he took the EIHL goalscoring crown with 43 goals and 75 points but the Captials missed out on the playoffs. Jarolin stayed for a second season scoring a meagre 31 goals and 71 points as Edinburgh finished 8th and made the playoffs but were dispatched in the quarterfinals.

Jarolin returned home to Slovakia for 2013/14, splitting his time between Dukla Senica in the 2nd tier and Zilina in the Extraliga before moving to Milton Keynes to start the last season. Jarolin has played 478 games in Slovakia’s top tier scoring 321 points and averages over a point per game in the EIHL and EPL.

The best joke of last season, “Thanks Pete”. Rene Jarolin is a good hockey player, Pete Russell is a good hockey coach but it was wrong man in the wrong place in the wrong system. It didn’t make sense for MK to keep him at the time Jarolin was released; the Lightning were third having (and thanks EIHA scheduling for this) played loads more games and whilst they were in a good position, needed a change to effectively push on. They made those changes and one of them was Jarolin leaving.

I shall put on my cape and be Captain Obvious for a moment; Doug Sheppard got a lot right last year but one of the things that he got really right was how he used Rene Jarolin. Where he’s been not been fitted in to a system with the Lightning and hadn’t had a foil to work off, Sheppard put him with Joe Greener and Ciaran Long in his early days with the Bison and he scored with relative ease. Now of course this is the Bison and stuff gets swapped about every 5 minutes but it meant that Jarolin was bedded in and could play anywhere on the roster with anyone because he knew what he needed to do. He clicked, he fitted in and it worked.

At nearly 35, Jarolin is not going to win any speed races any more but he’s that natural sniper who if someone feeds him the puck then he will find a way to put it in. Now given that it seems that Karpov and Long will start the season together and there’s no other centres signed yet, it’s a bit hard to say who lines up alongside him for the coming season. Aaron Connolly is a possibility as a line mate but Connolly would be the guy making space for Jarolin to do his thing rather than the guy feeding him. We’ll need to wait a little while to get the fuller picture but to be able to get an import who scored 73 points in his 55 games last season which is more than Tomas Karpov is a fantastic pull for Doug Sheppard.

Joining a team mid-season sometimes works well, sometimes not. It worked well for Rene Jarolin. The pressure is on in some ways because that first 2/3rds of a season was such a success that it will be really hard to follow up. The season after the double wasn’t a damp squib but it wasn’t as good. There are expectations for someone like Rene Jarolin heading into 2016/17 but given we’ve seen that it can work, there’s no reason to believe that it won’t again.

Welcome back, Rene; bring your mars bars and your smarties.

He scores with his face, he scores with his faaaaaace, Rene Jarolin, he scores with his face.

He scores with his face, he scores with his faaaaaace, Rene Jarolin, he scores with his face.

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