Building the Herd – Ashley Tait

#?? Ashley Tait

Position: Forward

Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Announced as signed: Bison website, 23rd May

With morale amongst the fanbase at a worrying low following recent announcement and the departure of a popular coach and 8 of the Herd’s treble winning squad, the NIHL was given a shot across its bow. Club owners Planet Ice announced on Wednesday that former Great Britain international, Ashley Tait would replace Doug Sheppard as Director of Hockey Operations for the Basingstoke Bison along with being the team’s new player/head coach.

42 year old Tait comes to North Hampshire with one of the most colourful CVs in British hockey. After coming through the Nottingham junior system and making his senior debut in 1990 for the Panthers, Tait became a fan favourite for the Panthers in the late days of the old British Hockey League and into the early days of the Superleague before departing for a two season stint in the British National League for the Kingston Hawks.

After returning to the Panthers in 1999, Tait remained in Nottingham for 3 more seasons before swapping one side of the midlands for the other as he left to join the Coventry Blaze.

Tait’s association with the Blaze between 2002 and 2007 is one that would help define Tait’s career. Captaining the Skydome side for the duration of that spell, he would become talismanic for the Blaze as well as captaining the club to a grand slam in 2004/05 with Tait famously scoring the playoff winning goal in overtime of the playoff final at the National Ice Centre against the Panthers.

In 2007 Tait made the somewhat controversial move of leaving Warwickshire for Yorkshire and joined the Sheffield Steelers. With a 1 year gap in 2009/10 to play in Italy for Ritten, Tait would remain with the Steelers until 2013 during which time he would also spend a season as player/assistant coach.

A return to old pastures beckoned as Tait headed back to Coventry and back into the captain’s role for the Blaze in 2013 which he would hold for the next 3 seasons. Tait would remain with the Blaze for his final year with the club in 2016/17 but would relinquish the C. 2017/18 saw Tait start the season without a club before stepping in to provide injury cover for the Milton Keynes Lightning and the Belfast Giants across the campaign.

In his playing career across the 4 different British leagues he’s played in and Serie A in Italy, Tait has accrued 5 league titles, 7 cups and 5 playoff winner’s medals along with 2 all-star selections and twice was the highest goalscoring British player in the EIHL. In league, cup and playoffs he totals 795 games with 699 points with 254 goals. As a senior player, Tait has played 1476 in all competitions.

Tait’s playing accomplishments extend into his 115 cap international career for Great Britain which includes 17 World Championship campaigns with 3 silvers and a bronze to his name along with appearing in 4 Olympic qualifying campaigns.

To give some of our fans who do not remember Tait from the battles against the Bison from the EIHL days, we turned to Stuart Coles, colour analyst for the Coventry Blaze webcast team to give us some insight into sort of guy that the team are getting.

(Tait is) super motivated and keeps himself in great shape. Do not be fooled by his age, he’ll be able to keep up and likely excel at NIHL level. He’s very much a leader and has coaching experience so should be a good fit in that regard. Not the most vocal, more of a let me lead you by example kind of guy, which works as a player/coach. Smart, tactically aware, he has a decent shot but transitioned more to a playmaker/defensive role in his second spell with us. Also – he’s a sports business lecturer and has worked for the Blaze on the commercial side. That can’t be underestimated as part of the signing.”

This is the change and it’s one that will garner some opinions. A large swathe of Bison fans will not remember seeing Tait play in Basingstoke against the Bison but a great deal will hopefully be aware of him. If they weren’t before then they’ll get a chance to find out now.

The later part of what Stuart Coles has said about Tait’s sports business acumen cannot be understated here. Being director of hockey operations means being the guy; it’s houses for the team, meeting with sponsors, organising nearly everything as well as signing and coaching the team. Combining that with playing is not going to be an easy task for anyone even if the level of hockey is below what Tait is used to playing. However having that part of the club’s portfolio in the hands of someone with those skills is encouraging.

In terms of playing, we know the sort of player that we are getting. Whilst at EIHL level he has swapped to a more defensive style, Tait as a two way player is going to be huge in the NIHL. It’s obviously impossible to know exactly how he will fit into the lines as he’s the only signed player on the roster but you have to imagine that he’ll be playing top six minutes and on the powerplay.

The one question mark in all of this is the coaching. Tait has coaching experience, his ability to do that is not questioned but for the first time it is all on him. Despite what some may say about the gap in quality in all sectors between the EIHL and NIHL, it doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s now all his systems and all his ideas. Tait has worked under some very good coaches, notably Paul Thompson so there’s contacts for ideas as well as talent into the bargain.

The potential is there for this appointment to be massive for the Bison but at the moment, that’s all we have; potential. Seemingly the roster needs to be rebuilt from scratch and Tait will need to dig into his book of contacts and his use his nous to get a team together. With word that a fair chunk of last season’s roster have gone, it’s a fair bet that people will want to play for Ashley Tait but who is available?

In 2012, this was Doug Sheppard. In 2018 it is now Ashley Tait however the new man to head the Herd finds the club in a very different position that Sheppard found it. There’s a legacy to live up to but this is a different man with his own ideas. There may not be instant gratification and fans need to accept that. Then again, we saw what happened when the last guy got given a chance and some time.

Welcome to Basingstoke, Ashley.


Building the Herd – Roman Malinik

#?? Roman Malinik

Position: Forward

Born: Ostrava, České Slezsko, Czechia

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 12th October

Roman Malinik is on his way to Basingstoke
(c) Katowicki Sport

So, the trigger was pulled by Doug Sheppard and the import switch has been made. It’s a Czech for Czech swap as Jaroslav Cesky is replaced by Roman Malinik.

27 year old Malinik comes to Hampshire after starting the 2017/18 season with Polonia Bytom in the Polish league where he’s been scoring at a point per game.

Malinik is a product of the Vitkovice junior system (Vitkovice is a part of Ostrava in the same way that Brighton Hill is a part of Basingstoke) and was quickly making waves. In 2005/06 Malinik was playing with the under 18s, made the odd appearance for the under 20s and played for the Czech under 16 side. The following season as an under 17 player he was regularly between the national championship winning under 18s, under 20s as well as making his senior debut in the Extraliga and playing 12 times for the Czech under 17 side.

It was these performances that saw Malinik catch the attention of scouts overseas and major junior hockey was on the horizon. He entered the CHL import draft in 2007 and was drafted 24th overall by Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL (a certain Tomas Karpov was drafted 16th overall by Moose Jaw). Playing alongside future NHL players like David Savard and Gabriel Bourque and future Chelmsford Chieftain Julius Sinkovic, Malinik spent two seasons in Quebec with the Drakkar scoring 43 points in his 121 games. He also earned a call up to the Czech under 20s in his second season.

With the NHL and North American hockey not being the way forward for Malinik, he returned to the Czech Republic and Vitkovice’s under 20 side for 2009/10 where he put up 50 points in 48 games as well as making a brief loan appearance for 3rd division side, Frydek-Mistek.

From there, Malinik entered the same routine as many Czech players before him and was loaned to various lower division sides. In the Czech Republic, to play for a club outside of the one where you trained as a youngster requires a “loan fee” to be paid. This is what sees so many Czech talents end up with so many loans on their hockey CVs; clubs won’t pay for a full transfer and will instead loan players from clubs in higher divisions which is a lower cost way of getting players in. The parent club also has immediate injury cover if needed. The system is also why so many players come abroad.

Malinik made some more appearances for Vitkovice’s under 20 side as well as with Frydek-Mistek but spent the better part of 2010 till 2013 in the Czech 1. Liga (their 2nd tier) with Dukla Jihlava scoring 34 points in 118 games.

After that he spent the next two seasons with Havlickuv Brod where his scoring numbers were far more impressive. Malinik scored 58 points in 94 games, being named captain in his second season. He also made a brief reappearance for Jihlava during this time.

2015/16 was Malinik’s last season in his homeland. Playing the majority of the campaign with AZ Havirov, Malinik scored a respectable 24 points in 50 games but also finally ended up back in the Vitkovice side playing 2 regular season games and 4 games in the relegation round.

Malinik decided to spread his wings and wanted to head abroad. His first stop abroad could have gone better as he agreed to join up with the Manchester Phoenix. Continually short benched and playing out of the infinitely too small rink at Blackpool, Malinik managed to still put up decent numbers with 17 goals and 30 points in 28 games. Malinik, along with all the Phoenix’s imports were released before the New Year and the Phoenix’s inevitable demise and he made his way to Poland and Polonia Bytom with whom he claimed a bronze medal at the end of the season.

Malinik started this campaign with Bytom scoring 4 goals and 4 assists in 8 games before electing to come to Basingstoke.

How would you describe yourself as a hockey player?

I’m a power forward – I like to play a high energy game but score goals too.

Interview with Nicholas Bevan (@NW2Hatter) for Manchester Phoenix match programme, October 2016

The Bison’s big struggle so far this season has been attacking production and direction going forward at times. Malinik, whom Sheppard remembers as a hard working player does have a history of being able to put points on the board.

For those of us who remember that Manchester Phoenix side before the fire went out, they were not good. The majority if not nearly all the offence went through the imports which might be why Malinik got as many points as he did. However it’s also dependant on him and his linemates being able to generate that offence. To score 30 points in any period of time with that Phoenix side is no mean achievement.

Malinik is a bigger body than Cesky and I expect him to go straight onto that line with Aaron Connolly and Josh Smith that did so well last weekend to give that line a more physical edge. Malinik also adds a different dimension to the second powerplay unit and I wonder if we see him take Cesky’s place on the left side half boards or whether he floats up to the point more for the big shot.

Malinik describing himself as a power forward could be the answer that the Bison’s attack has been looking for. The style that Doug Sheppard likes to play with the Bison has always been better with that player not afraid to drive the net. Joe Greener, Joe Rand, Derek Roehl (to a point) have all been in that import mould of people who go to the net and get in the face of the netminder. With Connolly doing it from one wing and now potentially Malinik driving from the other side, that’s a good option for the Herd as a contrast to the Karpov and Antonov combination of using their skills to remove the netminder from their shorts.

Either way, we’re certainly in for a change in the way the Bison attack. With Karpov and Antonov having seemingly found their scoring boots last weekend, the addition of a proven point scorer to the line-up can hopefully spark some more dynamic play from the Herd. We live in hope.

Welcome to Hampshire, Roman.

Thanks to Tomas Karpov for an explanation of the Czech loan system.

Building the Herd – Sam Brooks

(c) 5 Hole Photography

#?? Samuel Brooks

Position: Forward

Born: Basingstoke, Hampshire

Announced as signed: Two-way contract with Buffalo confirmed Bison website, 3rd October

The second of the Bison’s two part announcement was the news that the Bison had formalised Sam Brooks’ involvement with the club. Having guested in games since the start of the season, the Bison under 18’s alternate captain has been moved onto a formal two-way contract with the Bison and Buffalo following some impressive early season performances which included his first Bison point on Tomas Karpov’s goal in Bracknell in September.

Brooks started his junior hockey career in Guildford eventually making his way to the under 16 Firestars where he spent parts of 3 seasons. The Guildford youth system, known for its quality and depth was a good place for Brooks who whilst not a massive point scorer in junior hockey made an impression in an impressive Firestars team. Brooks scored 13 points in 32 games and was part of the league winning side of 2014/15 alongside now Bison under 18s captain Cameron Buckle and Invicta Dynamos defenceman George Hoang.

In the summer of 2015, Brooks decided to continue his junior development in Basingstoke with the Bison and was immediately in the thick of things with both the under 18s and under 20s. 21 points in 18 games with the under 18s and 11 points in 13 games with the under 20s was a good foundation for the inevitable transition to senior hockey that would no doubt follow.

It came last season as Brooks appeared in 6 games for the Buffalo in NIHL 2 South where he registered 2 goals and 2 penalty minutes. Brooks also had productive seasons at under 18 and under 20 level, going over a point per game in both (26 points in 18 games for the under 18s, 17 points in 13 under 20 games) combined with 1 goal in the u18’s short playoff run.

Named an alternate captain for the under 18 Bison this season and with ice time for the Buffalo also pretty much a certainty, it seemed that Brooks was set for the season. However with Doug Sheppard wanting to get a look at players in pre-season and then the injury to Dan Davies, Coach Sheppard took a chance on Brooks who has now formally played himself onto the Bison roster. Along with his appearances for the Herd, he has 4 points in 3 games for the Buffalo at the time of writing.

Amongst all the head scratching with the removal of Dan Lackey from the Bison roster, the team’s physical edge or lack thereof and any perceived problems with consistency, this is a fantastic chance with a talented young player.

In some ways Sam Brooks has been in a “no lose situation” since he has been added to the roster. If he hadn’t been what Doug Sheppard wanted then he at least got the experience of training the bit of game time that he got. However he’s played well, raw at this level but well and well enough to earn a place on the roster for the remainder of the season.

At 17 years old, the key thing for Brooks is to go out and do what’s asked of him. He clearly has an eye for the pass and an eye for goal as well as not being scared to play alongside the Bison’s top end players when asked. The fans will hopefully show Brooks some patience as he learns and develops rather than demanding too much of him too soon. Generally Bison fans have been very good at supporting young players who find themselves in this position in recent years whether it be Wynn, Ingoldsby, Petts, Goddard or anyone else.

The Herd fans are generally good at getting behind the younger players and want them to do well. Doug Sheppard will not be as forgiving and if Brooks doesn’t perform to the standard required then he’ll spend more time in NIHL 2 and juniors until he is ready. Sam Brooks has a chance to start making a real mark in senior hockey. We naturally wish him all the best.

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.