Goodnight and Good Luck – Tomas Hiadlovsky

After two seasons in Bison colours, Tomas Hiadlovsky waves goodbye to Basingstoke
(c) 5 Hole Photography

The Bison’s move to NIHL 1 South was always going to see some members of the Herd leave. The move to a 2 import league was always going to see players move. With Joe Rand heading back to Canada (and don’t worry, we’ve not forgotten about him), another two imports are heading on to new locations. We’ll start with the hole left in the Bison net with the departure of Tomas Hiadlovsky.

What have we lost?

For some reason, there’s been no announcement from Ice Hockey Journalists UK with regards to all-star teams for last season. I genuinely believed that Tomas Hiadlovsky would have been on one of the all-star teams but I suppose we’ll never know. For a man who clearly has a bit of a temper on the ice, Hiadlovsky was generally a cool customer in the net. In the title winning season there was this really great contrast between Jon Baston with his frantic, kinetic, almost chaotic style and Hiadlovsky who was the more orthodox in how he approached things.

The Bison have had a really good defensive corps over the last few years and had two years running with the fewest goals conceded in the league. The defenders played a massive role in that and so did Hiadlovsky. Some might argue about his save percentage possibly being higher or the odd soft goal (we’ll get to that) but you had to shoot well to beat the Slovak. The defence would let shots through because they knew that he’d save them. For every random lost puck behind the net, there were 4 or 5 breakaways that he stopped. If he’d stayed, the club’s shutout record would have surely gone.

Where has he gone?

At the moment, we don’t know. All we have is the announcement from the club that they won’t be returning.

Who replaces him?

Let the silly season begin! There are no concrete rumours as to who will start between the pipes for the Bison next season but there are options. It seems that a British netminder will be the Bison’s preferred option for the next campaign and there are some options about. The gap between the EIHL and the NIHL is now pretty vast but there will be players looking for a starting spot. The chance in focus at Bracknell could see Alex Mettam as an option. Doug Sheppard might target former Bison netminder and current Streatham number 1, Matt Colclough, a player with vast experience at this level and locally based.

The other option of course is sitting under our nose and that’s to hand the reigns to Dan Weller-Evans. Having sat behind Dean Skinns and Tomas Hiadlovsky, Dan’s had some good training as well as some experience in the NIHL. He’s always accounted himself well in EPL games when given the chance. The time might be right for DWE to step into the role that it’s known that the former Bison junior has wanted for a long time. One thing counting against Dan is that the pool of British goalies for a two import league is now quite a deep one and does he lose out to a more established British name if Doug Sheppard doesn’t want to take that chance? We’ll have to wait and see.

Final thoughts:

Stay in your net!” became the most annoying thing to me last year. I’ve even just gritted my teeth writing this. I’m not going to lie; I don’t always sit with my finger on the pulse of popular opinion and that’s fine. It’s not a big deal to have different opinions but that one always got my goat as people demanded that Tomas Hiadlovsky stop playing his natural game. There I would be, like Winnie the Pooh under his little black rain cloud as muttering to myself that why couldn’t people just let him get on with it?

Yes, he got caught out behind the net on occasions. He also still conceded fewer goals than any other goalie and had the best GAA in the league doing it. High risk, high reward and a first league title for over two decades is a fair price to pay I feel. Without a shadow of a doubt, Tomas Hiadlovsky was the best netminder we had in the EPIHL. Whether he is your favourite is another matter but performances across two years and the numbers don’t lie.

We know why this decision has been taken by Doug Sheppard. In a league with 2 imports dressed, one on the ice at a time, you cannot have an import netminder. It just isn’t feasible to operate in that way. Could the Bison have done it? Arguably yes if they’d manage to keep all of last year’s British players. However for a first season into an unknown venture, it makes sense to have the options.

I venture that Hiadlovsky could still do a job at EIHL level and wouldn’t be massively surprised if he ended up back in Scotland or at Guildford but then he might just head home. Either way, the cycle of hockey goes onwards and where many don’t get to attach their names to things, Tomas Hiadlovsky helped backstop the club to the very top.

Thanks Tomas, go well.

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