Running with the Herd – Bison vs Telford Tigers 16/9/17

NIHL Cup

Basingstoke Bison 2-5 Telford Tigers

Dewey                          Miller

Antonov                       Silverthorn x2 (1pp)

                                    J. Watkins pp

                                    Taylor

Stumped:

That wasn’t good. That wasn’t good at all. What a difference a week makes for the Herd who looked so at ease as to having sleepwalked to a 4-0 win against Invicta to then face a sterner test both away and then at home to Telford and last night’s home encounter was one to hopefully, quickly forget.

The Bison had a good first ten minutes but then seemed to lose their way. The combination of Vanya Antonov and Jaroslav Cesky started getting some penetration through the Tigers’ defence but once the Tigers got wise to this and marked them out of the game, nobody else could step up. Combined with some rather poor two way play from the forwards as well, the Bison got frequently stretched and the goals for the visitors, when they came, were because there was no man where there should have been one. The last 50 minutes of the game was a comedy of errors for the hosts.

The Bison massively missed Dan Davies, suffering from an unconfirmed injury. They needed someone to be able to play both ends of the ice and add a touch of quality up the middle and it was lacking last night. Ryan Sutton put in the effort as the second line centre but he is not of the quality of Davies. His positioning saw him on the ice for three of the goals, he struggled to win faceoffs and just generally had a bad night at the office. The same with Paul Petts, suddenly thrust up the lines who took a few very poor penalties and Josh Smith who seemed to not get enough connection on any chance he got.

The burden of failure doesn’t fall with the younger, more inexperienced members of the roster. The senior members of the forward lines struggled as much as the younger ones. Aaron Connolly was uncharacteristically quiet on the ice and on the bench, Grant Rounding seemed to run at defenders with no hope of going through them and for all he tried to create, Tomas Karpov can’t do everything himself.

The only two forwards who seemed to have an impact of any kind were the aforementioned Antonov and Cesky. The combination between the young up-and-comer and the veteran forward was a bright spot of the game for the Herd. They are starting to get a better awareness of where the other one is but were ultimately sat on more and more as the game went on and 2 men against five working more effectively together will never work.

It should be said that where the forwards had a nightmare evening, I thought the defence actually had a good evening. Dean Skinns might want one or two of the goals back but ultimately didn’t get enough help from everyone on the ice. The actual individual defencemen as well I thought played admirably. Stuart Mogg, Joe Baird and Kurt Reynolds all had good games. Dan Scott got caught out for one of the goals but it was because he jumped into the play to try and make something happen where others couldn’t. Scott was also the vocal presence on the bench at the end demanding the players dug deep. Elliott Dewey probably had the best game of any of the defenders; he looked calm, composed and took his goal very well.

In the end, the buck stops with Doug Sheppard on this one. Yes, with no Davies in the line up, it meant a shuffling of the lines but the plan clearly wasn’t working as soon as Telford got their third goal but Telford persisted. The Bison seemed so determined to spread their offence across the lines but rather than try to match Telford’s tactic of a heavily loaded top line then use the superior depth to win, Sheppard’s plan to spread the offence across the lines ended up diluting it and it made the Bison toothless for the majority of the game. The Bison’s bench isn’t massive but a team with 12 skaters came into Basingstoke, bossed the game and didn’t look tired. That’s not acceptable.

Sheppard likes to try different combinations and this writer is sure that different ones will be seen in the cup game against Bracknell. If the performance of tonight is repeated then the Herd’s National Cup campaign will be over before it starts.

The presence of Chris Wiggins at the end of the Bison bench wasn’t lost on this writer either. A fully fit Chris Wiggins does have a role to play in NIHL South 1 where teams will try to use their physical attributes where skill can’t get the job done. Invicta tried it to up their physical game and were matched. Could Wiggins have made a difference on this night? Possibly but for all Wiggins’ skill set, if he is officially added to the line up then he won’t be the answer to the Bison’s issues on this night unless he’s magically turned into a two-way centre or a natural scorer.

A word on our opponents:

This bit might be short as there’s not much to say really. Credit must go to Telford, the better side won this game. They used their small bench to perfection, frustrated the Bison, ground them down and the win was easy for them in the end.

Denis Bell got the man of the match for his 36 save performance but it was a Bison team doing their firing from all angles act. Had I been picking the beers, I’d have given them to Adam Taylor. It would have been easy to give the award on the night to Jason Silverthorn or Joe Miller, even Jack Watkins was arguably in with a shout but for me Taylor was the standout performer for the visitors. With this shorter Tigers bench, Taylor is going to get a bit of ice time and actually that looks like it will serve him well. He’s taking an opportunity given to him by Tom Watkins (who himself had a good rather than a great game) to have the ice time and take his chances. He shot well, passed well, forechecked well; it was an all round performance from the young man.

Telford’s strength in this game was where the Bison were so determined to beat them at their own game, Telford had to just sit back and frustrate their hosts then take their chances. Whilst not a numerous roster, there’s a lot of talent in it. They have a goalie who has started the season hot in Bell, quality on defence led by Jonathan Weaver, quality up front led by Jason Silverthorn and what depth there is, is also very good. Most importantly they’re playing for themselves and the coach. Had the Bison played to their full potential then this game would have been a classic that this new era of the second tier in British hockey needed. Instead it was a frustrating mess for the home fans and the small travelling contingent were sent home happy by this effective and well managed performance. If Telford don’t win a trophy this season, I’ll be shocked.

Lowlight of the game: Most of it but Silverthorn’s second goal was the icing on a very sour tasting cake.

Highlight of the game: Antonov’s goal was alright.

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Running with the Herd – Bison vs Invicta Dynamos 09/09/17

NIHL 1 South

Basingstoke Bison 4-0 Invicta Dynamos

Karpov

Mogg

Antonov

Connolly pp

Opening night dynamism:

There’s been lots of speculation over the course of the summer of how the former EPL sides would match up against the NIHL classic teams when they finally came head to head. Many were predicting lopsided games and for the Bison, whilst the scoreline was entirely respectable, this game felt like one way traffic.

The game itself had its moments of drama but this was not a game that the Bison ever looked like losing. The Herd put the pressure on the visitors from the get go and it showed early on and all the way through the game. It was helped in the first period by the Dynamos taking 5 penalties but the overall balance of the game was never in doubt.

The Herd rarely looked like they got out of first gear because they didn’t really need to. This did lead to instances where they fell into the trap of trying to walk the puck into the net at times but also were turned away by a netminder who needed to play out of his skin.

After two periods of running a regular patten of lines, the third period saw the bottom six and especially the 4th line get a ton of ice time. The Dynamos were rarely troubling the Bison net and, because Doug Sheppard will rarely want his team to run up the score, went for resting the top lines ahead of the cup game with Telford and gave the opportunity to the younger players who impressed.

Without Jaroslav Cesky and Hallam Wilson, Bison u18s forward Sam Brooks was added to the line-up and gave a very good account of himself. Usually used on a 4th line with Paul Petts and Josh Smith, Brooks never shied away from the play and almost got himself on the scoresheet in the final period when his line was given a lot of extended ice time.

Vanya Antonov got the man of the match beers for a 1+2 performance. His goal was a really good tip off of a Joe Baird shot but Antonov’s night was more than that. He did try to be a bit too cute with the puck on more than one occasion but Vanya Antonov is really good on the puck and if teams are going to give him the space and time to operate then why shouldn’t Antonov, arguably the Herd’s highest skilled forward, take the opportunity to burn teams if they’re going to give him the chance? The irony for all of Antonov’s skill on the ice was his only goal was that tip in and one of his better shots rebounded to Aaron Connolly to stick home.

It is hard to pick out anyone who had a bad performance from the Bison on the night. It was a game for skill players as well as Tomas Karpov had one of his nights where he wanted to skate round and through everyone. He nearly did though his goal was a superb shot that went flying into the top of the net. Dean Skinns had a couple of moments (Adam Rehak should have scored but we’ll get to that) but was rarely troubled and a 15 shot shutout speaks to that. Stuart Mogg’s goal was fortunate to go in as Damien King lost sight of the puck but it was a bullet of a shot into the bottom corner. The rest of the defence had its moments but didn’t struggle to hold the Dynamos at bay.

A win is a win; the Bison won’t care about their dominance in the encounter. I think the crowd would have preferred the Bison to start running up the score but one game into the season there are bigger things to worry about. This was a good game for giving players ice time and getting everyone up to speed. Telford will be a very different ask than Invicta so this game served that dual purpose. The Bison are on the board in their new league home. The cup now becomes the focus.

A word on our opponents:

We’ll cover the bad and then the good for the Invicta Dynamos from this one.

The scoreline can be painted in a bunch of ways but what happened in the 60 minutes cannot be ignored here. The Dynamos were played off of the ice for the duration of the game, they were held to 15 shots in 60 minutes, the one golden chance they had was missed and the only reason this game didn’t end up with a cricket score is because their netminder was on his game. We won’t touch on why the Kent side had to play in their warm up jerseys because gear mishaps happen to the best of teams.

The game plan was sensible enough and we’ve seen it plenty of times; when you think you are lacking in skill against your opponents, you find ways to frustrate them. The Dynamos plan was to be physical and try to cut off the passing lanes. The problem that they had was they got matched for physicality and didn’t cut off the passing lanes, at times even stepping off and giving the Bison space to operate in. They also took a litany of poor penalties at inopportune moments. When your side is giving up a lot of shots and your keeper is keeping you in the game, why are you taking silly penalties to then up the amount of shots?

Adam Rehak can be forgiven for missing his chance to make the score 1-1 but the lack of creating opportunities on net will cost the Dynamos dearly across the season if they cannot do so against other sides, new to the NIHL or not. The Dynamos are reportedly a different side at home, for their sake I hope so.

However there is some good to be taken from this game. The Dynamos deserve credit for their effort. Some teams would have rolled over and allowed the score to resemble a game of pinball but the Dynamos tried to skate with the Bison for 60 minutes. The team clearly has heart and systems that they are playing to. They didn’t give up the game plan.

50 saves on 54 shots sounds like what it was; Damien King was in the shooting gallery but he was not making lucky saves. King did get fortunate at times but he also made a string of good quality saves and looked composed and confident doing them. In another game, Damien King will be the difference between winning and losing.

The other thing that must be mentioned is the Dynamos fans, they’re a different class in terms of support.

Lowlight of the night: Mason Webster’s crosscheck on Dan Scott was a bit unnecessary.

Highlight of the night: Karpov’s goal was a very pretty shot.


Running with the Herd – Bison vs Peterborough Phantoms 02/09/17

Billy Glover Memorial Trophy

Basingstoke Bison 5-0 Peterborough Phantoms

Connolly pp

Cesky

Rounding

Scott pp

Petts

An early, quiet statement:

Before we get too far into this piece, we need to remind ourselves not to get too carried away with a pre-season win however it is. It is not set in stone that the Bison will be this good all season. However it was a nice indicator of how the Herd plan to operate across the campaign.

The game was physical in the right way. The first saw a finely balanced period that could have gone either way before the Herd blew the doors off in the second then shut everything down in the third. Once the third goal went in, Doug Sheppard’s team didn’t look like losing.

The scoreline doesn’t flatter the hosts on the balance of the 60 minutes and in the face of an early set back thanks to Antonov’s ejection, the lines were shuffled and the Bison didn’t look back.

Antonov was unlucky to find himself ejected. Whilst the letter of the law was upheld, I find it unfathomable that the EIHA has retained the utterly ludicrous match penalty in the moment for an accidental high stick that draws blood. Yes, it’s a penalty and rightly deserves a sit on the box but if we’re asking the referee to judge intent on the play the rest of the time, why not on high sticking calls as well? An accidental high stick that saw James White return shortly afterwards, blood or no, shouldn’t see any player thrown out of the game. The rule is stupid.

Antonov looked bright to start the game and his original line mates also had a pretty decent performance into the bargain. Dan Davies looked as sharp as ever but one of the revelations on the night was Jaroslav Cesky. To say that some people had been surprised at the Czech forward’s return to Basingstoke would be an understatement but the effort and imagination were there with the former EPL player of the year taking his goal very well, drawing Long down and across his crease before sliding the puck over the line.

For many people, the man of the night was Dean Skinns. The local boy’s return for another spell at the Bison couldn’t have started in better fashion. The entire Bison defensive unit looked sharp all night though in the first pre-season game obviously had its moments of unfamiliarity. Where the odd mistake was evident, Skinns looked dialled in all night and made a string of decent stops in crucial moments. He held firm in the scramble and was picking pucks out through traffic. Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.

Aaron Connolly took man of the match for going 1+2 on the night for what can only be described as an Aaron Connolly performance. The captain was high energy and was leading from the front. He also took his goal well, being right on the doorstep to beat Adam Long to open the scoring. It was a timely goal coming as it did shortly after the expiry of the 5 minute penalty from Antonov’s removal from proceedings.

We should also mention Paul Petts’ first Bison goal. It wasn’t pretty but they all count and Jaroslav Cesky was on hand to scoop the puck up for the young man.

The first period lead saw the Bison set up their game and as they blew the game open in the second, the swagger that the Bison have when everyone is confident came flooding with it. People were prepared to try making plays, people were shooting more, the confidence was palpable. The only issue that came from it was people being so confident meant that when the Phantoms gave up multiple 2 on 1 opportunities, the pass was never taken when it might have been the better option. However you can’t fault guys too much in pre-season for wanting to get that shooting practice in during the live setting.

The second leg of the Billy Glover Memorial Trophy will be a different ask however the Bison can take a lot of positives from the encounter. It doesn’t count on the scoreboard but it is an early message to the other teams in the league; the Bison are not coming to mess about.

A word on our opponents:

I have deliberately left doing our “Standing in the Way” preview of the Phantoms until after seeing this game. I figured “why not take the opportunity to see them then preview them better?” Then the Phantoms turned up and played a really confusing game of hockey.

In the last couple of years I’ve been critical of how the Phantoms have played when I’ve watched them. I found their style of play dull, uninspiring and I struggled to understand why teams lost to it. I took a lot of flack for it. However the one thing that it always did have was a lot of structure to it. The Phantoms would clog the centre lane and were experts in frustrating their opponents without resorting to rough house tactics. There was none of this from Peterborough this time out and I do have to wonder why.

The first was well balanced as both teams tried to get their footing and whilst their lack of conversion on their extended powerplay (mostly due to a couple of penalties that they took themselves) wouldn’t have been too concerning. However the second period saw them look lost at times and on the back foot as the Bison poured on the pressure. By the time the third period started, it was too late.

Scott Robson got the man of the match and on reflection, he didn’t have a terrible game. I thought Ed Knaggs had a better game on the Phantoms’ blueline. Knaggs looks like he will have a prominent role in the Peterborough defensive unit this season and I am sure he will continue to improve with the extended minutes.

It was not Adam Long’s greatest night between the pipes. Whilst he didn’t get tons of help from his outskaters, there were a couple of goals that Long will want back especially Petts’ marker which seemed to go in slow motion past the length of his right pad before nestling in the bottom corner. I think Long is a decent netminder and he proved that last season when called upon. Slava Koulikov will be hope that this really was Long’s warm up to being a full time starter.

Otherwise, I think the Phantoms have to chalk this up to a bad night at the office as the new roster gets to know each other. Shots were wide, wild or generally easy for Dean Skinns, Pliskauskas and Padelek were quiet most of the night, nothing seems to work and when they put themselves into the hole, there was no way out. One person said to me that the Phantoms were their favourites for the league. They won’t be if they play like that but nobody wins the league on day 1.

Lowlight of the night: See above, the match penalty for high sticks is, again, stupid.

Highlight of the night: Cesky’s goal was the prettiest but Paul Petts’ clearly meant a lot to the young man.


Building the Herd – Josh Smith

#?? Joshua Smith

Position: Forward

Born: Frimley, Surrey

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 17th August

Basingstoke Bison head coach Doug Sheppard has sealed the deal and completed the 2017/18 roster with the capture of forward Joshua Smith from the Bracknell Bees.

19 year old Smith is a product of the ever prevalent Bracknell junior system and 2017/18 will be his first season of hockey away from the Hive.

After appearing for England in the Quebec International Peewee Tournament, Smith started with the under 16 Stingers in 2011/12 scoring 14 points in 9 games. It was the start of a very prolific scoring career in junior hockey for Smith as for the rest of his junior career he would regularly play for at least two teams within the Bracknell system.

The following season Smith split time between the under Stingers where he scored 52 points in 19 games and making his debut for the under 18 Drones where he tallied 13 goals and 23 points in 15 games.

The following year 2013/14 saw Smith ice for three Bracknell sides in the one campaign; he had another 50 point year with the Stingers, a 33 point campaign with the Drones as well as the national title and made his senior hockey debut for the Hornets scoring a goal and an assist in 8 games.

The following year saw another three team split as Smith was named alternate captain of the Drones with 21 points in 12 games which he combined with a double foray into senior hockey. Smith played 22 games each for the Hornets and Bees with 21 points at NIHL level and 1 goal and 1 assist in the EPL.

Those efforts were enough to earn Smith a full time Bees contract the last two seasons. Whilst financially the Bees have struggled and not challenged at the top half of the table, Smith carved himself a niche as a productive third line forward with 8 goals and 16 points in 15/16 and 6 goals and 12 points in 16/17 in a season where he was limited to 39 games.

Last season saw Josh appear for GB under 20s tallying 0 points and 2 penalty minutes in the 5 games.

So, it is done. The roster for the Bison’s assault on the NIHL is complete. Some people will ponder this as a last signing and wonder why the Bison didn’t arguably go out with a bigger bang but this is a very Doug Sheppard signing; a somewhat understated announcement of a hard working forward. The “big name” returnees were already announced and the Bison are never generally ones to hold onto big names they have signed for very long.

Instead the final member of the roster really does smack of the sort of side that Doug Sheppard tries to build. It’s a team that’s meant to be more than the sum of its parts. Sheppard signs guys to fit the style he wants the team to play, that will work with the group and will ultimately achieve the goals of winning silverware. Remember when Sheppard chose to sign Rene Jarolin over Frankie Bakrlik when both were on the market?

Josh Smith is a hard worker with a bit of attacking upside and for me, slips nicely onto the Bison’s 3rd line to start the campaign. I’ve already tried knocking together some basic line combinations on the backs of envelopes (jokes about line shuffling not withstanding) and at the moment I envisage on the wing of a third line with Dan Lackey clearing the way on the other wing and Jaroslav Cesky being the setup man. That requires both Smith and Lackey to have decent two way game because with all the will in the world, Jaroslav Cesky isn’t known for his two way play.

The other option on the wings is to stick Smith on a wing with Grant Rounding and a centre like Tomas Karpov for a real speed and scoring attacking threat. I lean towards the former of those predictions but Smith certainly has value in a variety of positions. I expect to see the odd bit of penalty killing from him as well.

The hope is that Smith finds someone who he can work with and add a bit of that scoring touch that he had in juniors to his game at a senior level. One thing that Doug Sheppard has always been good at is giving younger players a chance and responsibility. It’s happened more and more with Basingstoke trained youngsters but he’s never been afraid to look to players elsewhere to give that chance. We don’t need to rattle off the names again, they’re well known. Smith has an opportunity to be one of those players and to make his mark in a title challenging team. Now we know he’s the last addition, it’s time to get really excited.

Welcome to the Herd, Josh. Also thanks for being the token ginger now Ciaran has left.


Building the Herd – Jaroslav Cesky

#39 Jaroslav Cesky

Position: Forward

Born: Praha, Czechia

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 10th August

Jaroslav Cesky has had a storied career in British hockey and is now back for a second stint in Basingstoke.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

Every now and then, Doug Sheppard throws a curveball into the mix when signing a Bison roster. With 2 players left to sign, Sheppard has announced that the second import on the team will see the return to Basingstoke of veteran Czech forward, Jaroslav Cesky.

39 year old Cesky is a veteran of British hockey having played in Britain since 2009 and has played EIHL, EPL and NIHL in his time in this country.

After a season in the American based USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Cesky won a scholarship in 2000 to Augsburg College in Minnesota, an NCAA division 3 hockey programme where he was one of the team’s star players. Cesky, who was made the captain in his final season with the Auggies, scored 140 points in 102 games and was the team’s leading scorer as captain in 2002/03.

After finishing his time at university, Cesky headed into the professional ranks in North America. After a season with Adirondack in the old United Hockey League, Cesky moved to the Central Hockey League and spent 2 and a half successful seasons with the Tulsa Oilers tallying over 120 points before a deadline deal trade to the Oklahoma City Blazers for a deep playoff run that sadly fell short. Cesky finished his CHL time with 161 points in 179 games.

After his run in Oklahoma was done, Cesky played his last season in North America with the Flint Generals of the IHL before moving back to Europe and Chamonix in France for the 2008/09 campaign.

It was in France that Cesky met fellow Czech national, Michal Pinc. The two signed for the Bracknell for 2009/10 and proceeded to set the EPIHL on fire. Cesky tallied 119 points and was the EPL player of the year whilst Pinc finished with 109 points.

Cesky and Pinc, along with linemate Nicky Watt, returned to Bracknell for a second season where Cesky scored 81 points before the trio moved en masse to Swindon where Cesky scored 64 points for the Wildcats.

Cesky moved alone to Shropshire to start 2012/13 to play for Telford but after 10 games in Shropshire he moved to Basingstoke in a straight swap for defenceman Tomas Fojtek. Cesky scored 48 points in 41 games for the Herd and helped the team to their first ever Coventry playoff weekend.

2013/14 was a mixed year for Cesky. He played the first half of the season in Peterborough, scoring 34 points in 29 games before being released. A brief spell in Manchester with the Phoenix then saw him spend 15 games in Edinburgh before finishing out the season with 12 games in Cardiff with the Devils.

With him being based in the south of England, Cesky stepped into the NIHL for the first time in 2014 as he joined Jeremy Cornish and the Wightlink Raiders. A popular player with the Ryde faithful, Cesky posted back to back 60 plus point seasons with the Raiders as well as winning the playoffs in 2015 and was a 2016 first team NIHL 1 South all-star.

Cesky returned to the Raiders to start last season but with the untimely demise of the Isle of Wight team, Cesky moved to the Oxford City Stars where he posted 31 points in 21 games to finish out the year.

In 2002 whilst back home in Prague, Cesky played a part in the apprehension of an individual in the Prague subway system who had killed one police officer and had injured another as well as a 74 year old bystander. Cesky was awarded the Czech Republic’s Medal for Heroism for his actions.

It’s easy to look at this signing and see what we think is Jaroslav Cesky. When people think of Jaroslav Cesky the hockey player, they only see the player who tore the league apart at Bracknell and Swindon. He’s the former EPIHL player of the year with a 119 point season. There seems to be no accounting for time or adaptation or slowing down and the part that they play in a hockey career.

The Bison have never been an old team in terms of age. There have always been experienced players but adding a 39 year old forward heading towards the end of his playing career seems an odd choice for Doug Sheppard.

However to do that is to not see the player or this roster in context. Jaroslav Cesky is no longer that player that you remember. He is half an inch slower, he isn’t the same as he was a decade ago. However the hockey brain is still there. It was a trait that Sheppard banked on with Rene Jarolin and he’s banking on it again in 2017/18.

Cesky has a lot of good qualities; a natural playmaker, with the right wingers around him he should prove a potent attacking force in terms of setup play and the occasional goal. What he doesn’t need to be that was expected of him at other clubs is that go-to guy. He doesn’t need to be the focal point of the attack any more.

That’s not to say that Cesky can coast in any way, Doug Sheppard won’t allow that, but what it means is that he can play a bit of hockey and not need to be the guy. He doesn’t need to be playing 20-30 minutes a night and on all the powerplays and penalty kills. The British depth (and still one British forward to come remember) and Tomas Karpov allows Cesky to be a role player rather than being one of those players that needs to be used in every situation. He can an experienced hand, he can be that guy that younger players play with for a bit of guidance.

Many people are quick to turn their noses up at this signing by saying that Cesky’s old (he is for a hockey player), that he’s past it (still over a point per game for the most part) and that this is a desperation signing from the Bison.

The Herd have signed an experienced import with a proven track record for scoring that is based locally so they don’t have to house him and will be crucial depth rather than the spearhead of the scoring. I’m not sure what’s the problem with that given the makeup of this roster and the depth of talent and role players it has.

Welcome back, Jaro.


Building the Herd – Dan Lackey

#9 Dan Lackey

Position: Utility (normally forward)

Born: Basingstoke, Hampshire

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 3rd August

Back in Lack(ey); Dan Lackey returns to the Bison for 2017/18.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

As soon as we were caught up from our paternity leave, Thursday rolled around and Bison coach Doug Sheppard added to the roster for the 2017/18 season by announcing the return of Dan Lackey.

27 year old Lackey played his first full season for the Bison in 2016/17 after a storied career in junior and NIHL 2 hockey in his home town. Lackey played in 50 games scoring 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points. He is also the reason that Sam Godfrey (then of Guildford) still has a headache.

Lackey is a true product of the Basingstoke system. His official stats on Elite Prospects go back to the NHL lockout season of 2004/05 when he split his time between the Bison u16s and u19s before progressing to playing under 19s (as it was then) full time in 2006/07.

After 06/07 there was a reorganising of the age groups under the EIHA structure and the under 19s became the under 18s for 2007/08. Lackey had a productive year with 7 goals and 12 points in 17 games at under 18 level as well as making his senior hockey debut in the old ENL with the Basingstoke Buffalo.

After those initial 11 games, Lackey was a stalwart of the Buffalo lineup. Usually playing on defence for the Blue Herd but able to play up front as well, Lackey was routinely in the scoring numbers for the Buffalo. Dan took the 2013/14 season out of hockey to travel but returned back and slotted straight back into the Buffalo line up including guesting for Solent Devils, his only game for a senior team outside of Basingstoke.

Lackey has a total of 160 games in all competitions for the Buffalo with a total of 162 points with the Buffalo making him one of the Blue Herd’s most productive players. His final season with the Buffalo in 2015/16 say him score 22 points in 9 games.

Lackey’s history with the Bison was sporadic until the last season. He made his debit for the Herd under Steve Moria in the 2009/10 season and returned the next year for 13 more games before then not appearing for the Herd till 2015/16 under Doug Sheppard. He tallied 3 assists in 16 games before earning a contract for the duration of the last campaign.

The other side that Lackey has appeared for regularly is the Southampton Spitfires university side for whom he played 6 seasons as student and alumni.

I had to have a wry chuckle when the Gazette mentioned adding more firepower when we added Dan Lackey. That’s not to disrespect Dan in any way but since his permanent addition to the Bison roster, Dan Lackey’s not been signed for his goalscoring prowess. He even admits in the Gazette piece that he’s not the most skilful of players but isn’t afraid to get into the corners and do the dirty work that others won’t or can’t do.

What we have to remember is that the dynamics have changed. It’s really easy (and I’m totally blaming baby brain for this even though I wasn’t the one giving birth) to forget that we’re not in the EPL any more. We’re in a 2 import NIHL where British guys who got a few minutes now have a chance to be playing big minutes.

I don’t think there’s any massive secret to how Dan Lackey will be used and it won’t be as Vanya Antonov’s wing man. What I really want to see is Dan Lackey really embrace the sort of role that Alan Lack and Joe Rand used to fill for the Herd. Yes, Lackey can shoot but he has the size and he has the strength. Park him in front of the net on as many set plays and powerplays as we possibly can. There are not many defencemen in the NIHL north or south that are going to easily move Dan Lackey if he’s on his game. That needs to be used. With the loss of Ciaran Long and Declan Balmer, that big shot to cause some havoc on the powerplay for Lackey to mop up but Antonov, Davies and Dan Scott will do an admirable job. We also learned from the Gazette piece that there’s one more British forward and one more import forward so if one of those has a cannon of a shot then that solves that issue.

Less flash, more crash; that’s probably the best way to describe what the Bison will get out of Dan Lackey. That’s what we need him for. Look at the forwards already signed, the Bison don’t massively need another flashy, skill guy but there was that slot still available for gritty depth who will do that bit of standing up for his team mates if required. The shift of leagues sees Dan have a real chance to carve out more of a niche for himself. I’m intrigued to see how this pans out.

Welcome back, Dan.


The Great BOTW Paternity Leave Catch Up – Mogg, Reynolds and Skinns

(c) 5 Hole Photography

#94 Stuart Mogg

Position: Defence

Born: Basingstoke Hampshire

Announced as signed: Season Ticket Night, 20th July

 

 

#7 Kurt Reynolds

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Position: Defence

Born: Basingstoke Hampshire

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 20th July

 

 

 

 

 

(c) 5 Hole Photography

 

 

#?? Dean Skinns

Position: Netminder

Born: Basingstoke Hampshire

Announced as signed: Season Ticket Night, 20th July

 

 

That’s right, we’re totally cheating on this one.