The BOTW Player of the Year 2018/19

We have reached the end of the Bison’s regular season and whilst British hockey at the second tier will soon enter yet another crossroads, it is time for BOTW to return to one of its traditions.

Before we start this, there have been some changes to the panel that helps decide this award. I would like to thank Grant King and Jamie Walker who have stepped back from participating this year for their assistance during the last few years of this award. They are replaced by Daren “Bavy” Bavister, the Bison’s matchnight DJ and by Caroline Morris, the editor of the Bison’s matchnight programme who join long standing panel members, Nigel Simmonds and Hannah Driver.

Fans of the Herd and the odd interested outsider nominated a total of 7 players for discussion by the panel however only one player can be the recipient of the “Edjis Brahmanis Trophy”, the most drinkable trophy in sports.

Banners On The Wall Player of the Year 2018/19: #16 George Norcliffe

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Signed from Bracknell, former Guildford junior Norcliffe came to the Bison with minimal fanfare and ends the season with the highest end of season prize that this website can offer. The 25 year old moved to the Bison after an 11 point season with the Bracknell Bees and has more than doubled his points total including key goals in the second leg of the NIHL Southern Cup final. His gritty and determined style of play, his desire to drive the net and his ability on and off the puck have seen him taken to the hearts of Bison fans. The discussion amongst the panel saw a variety of opinions but all were in agreement that whilst any member of the roster this season could arguably have this award, George is a more than worthy winner that has gone to players who will live long in the memory of Bison fans such as Joe Rand, Tomas Karpov, Kurt Reynolds, Dan Davies and two time winner, Aaron Connolly.

About George, Nigel Simmonds said “He skated well, has a blistering turn of speed, great stickwork & has chipped in with some quality goals. Really hope he’ll be back next season”.

Other nominees:

#17 Russ Cowley

After a year away from the sport to finish his PhD, “The Doctor” returned to the ice and to say he was a shock signing when announced in July would be an understatement but it came with questions; how would he be used and more importantly after a year out, could he still go? The answer was an emphatic “yes”. Named captain of the Bison for the season, Cowley has mostly been used as the first line centre and has rewarded fans in Hampshire with a high level, consistent performance and going over a point per game. Hannah Driver mentioned that Cowley was “a fantastic player, a fantastic role model to the younger team members and an excellent, level captain…I hope he chooses to remain with us and continue to pass on his wealth of knowledge”

#2 Adam Jones

The 23 year old Birmingham born defenceman has proven to be the rock at the back for the Bison. Having been part of the Telford side that lost to the Bison in the 2018 national final, Jones was tempted south by Ashley Tait and has proven himself as the Herd’s number one blueliner, the point man on the powerplay and a regular recipient of the man of the match beers. “The unassuming rock at the back, quiet, solid, reliable and dedicated, passionate” said Bavy.

#77 Jay King

Following the demise of the Edinburgh Capitals, Jay King took a risk and headed as far away from his home as he could whilst remaining in the country. Whilst he’s popular for having a big smile on his face and doing the Macarena, the 23 year old Scot has proven to be capable and dependable defensive player for the Herd. 14 points (his highest total in senior hockey) and only 18 penalty minutes means that whilst he’s clearly living his best life, he’s a very good hockey player. Caroline Morris added “He’s certainly proved that he can mix it up when he needs to, will take that shot, and gives his all to the team. Nothing seems to hold back that happy dancing D-man, no matter how many times he gets knocked down.”

#26 Michal Klejna

Much like Richard Bordowski, Michal Klejna was an unknown quantity to Basingstoke fans and British hockey. The 31 year old Slovak forged a productive partnership with Ashley Tait and it’s no surprise that Klejna finished the regular season top of the goals and points columns. (Tait leads the team in assists). Clearly a passionate player, Klejna regularly displays an immense amount of skill and has superb hands that can put a puck onto a sixpence or past the opposition netminder. “Links up well with Ash and is a regular on the PP and PK. Love his desire to win & how much it means to him, when he scores” said Nigel Simmonds.

#28 Alex Mettam

After 5 years at Bracknell, the change of order saw Alex Mettam move his talents to Hampshire. It seemed for many to be a marriage of convenience but Mettam has proven this season that he can compete and be a difference maker. A team with a blueline corps with an average age of 22 needed a backstop who they could have confidence in and Mettam grew into the fact that he really was the go to guy for Basingstoke. Hannah Driver noted “ He has been solid overall this season and has been the stand out player in some games. He has a great partnership with DWE and it’s clear that they have that special NM bond.”

#25 Dan Weller-Evans

Basingstoke and Wales’ favourite son was once again put into the final discussion by his own personal fan club of Swindon fans however this was a different season for Weller-Evans. Whilst injury hit, he has seen more ice time than in previous years including the last weekend of the regular season where he won both games and conceded just 1 goal in 120 minutes of hockey which showed the development in his game. A voice in the darkness last summer, Weller-Evans called on Bison fans to be patient and that the 2018/19 season would not be doom and gloom.

Special mentions:

We’d go into such stuff normally but we’re going to save it for the Curtain Down piece.

A massive thank you to Caroline, Daren, Hannah and Nigel for their assistance. We’ll try and get George his award at Sunday’s game against Streatham. We thank you as ever for nominating your choice this season. Roll on the playoffs!


BOTW Player of the Year 2017/18

With the regular season at an end it is time to return to a BOTW tradition. The nomination process by Herd fans and the odd interested other yielded 6 candidates. As the Basingstoke Bison celebrate the NIHL South 1 title, we announce a winner for the most drinkable prize in sports, the “Edjis Brahmanis Trophy”.

Banners On The Wall Player of the Year 2017/18: #63 Aaron Connolly

(c) 5 Hole Photography

After taking the award in 2015/16 Connolly becomes the first two time winner of the award after unanimously being chosen by the panel to take the honour. 24 year old Connolly, arguably the Bison’s most popular player due to his never say die style of play has now captained the Bison to their 2nd league tile in three seasons whilst firing himself into the top 10 scorers in NIHL South 1.

Player of the Year panel member and Bison superfan Nigel Simmonds summed up Aaron by saying, “There aren’t enough words that can sum up how much Aaron brings to this team. (He’s) an Inspirational leader, the heartbeat of the team, he’s our Captain Fantastic!

He’s regularly on the scoresheet & comes up with some very, crucially timed goals.”

Other nominees:

#24 Vanya Antonov

Russo-Brit Antonov had another excellent season for the Bison which culminated in him finishing 3rd in the scorers’ chart in NIHL 1 South as well as being one of the best passers of the puck in the country at this level. Award judge, off ice official and Bison Ladies’ defender Hannah Driver said “he almost seems to have Inspector Gadget’s stick by the way that despite his small stature he can seemingly extend his reach in order to get to the puck and change direction when it looks impossible.”

#34 Roman Malinik

The Bison didn’t start the season brilliantly but after Czech forward Malinik joined from Polish side Polonia Bytom, the Herd seemed to find their man and find another gear. The power forward that the Herd had missed since the departure of Joe Greener, players rarely seem to easily remove Malinik from the puck. Award judge and club photographer Grant King said “watching him in full flight is a thing to behold! having spent a couple of our road trips shooting in the corners I am amazed how strong he is on the puck.”

#13 Dan Scott

He is hardworking, fast, consistent and fierce. Strong on and off the puck, gives his forwards room to move and another player who can make superb passes up the rink” was Hannah Driver’s summary of Dan Scott’s play and it’s hard to argue with it. Scott was one of the most influential presences in the Bison line up and it was always clear when he missed games.

#16 Ryan Sutton

To say this year has been a revelation from the former Bison junior would be an understatement. After spending a year in Canada, Sutton came back to Basingstoke and many felt that he would be a bit part player. With the departure of Ashley Jackson leaving a hole to be filled, Sutton stepped up and filled it with hard work and timely goals like his one away at London Raiders that proved the difference in crucial games.

#93 Dan Weller-Evans

Every year some Swindon fans always add what they consider to be something of a joke addition to proceedings. This year they (and 1 Bison fan) voted for the Bison’s backup netminder who has taken to being cheered by the Wildcats faithful. Despite not playing loads of games this season, Weller-Evans won his first ever competitive start for the Bison away at Invicta as well as making other key appearances in the season and finishing with a 90% save percentage. Award judge Jamie Walker summarised Dan’s contribution by saying “you can’t underestimate the value of having a backup with a great attitude to the team concept.”

Panel special mention:

#15 Joe Baird

In the panel’s discussions one player who didn’t make the nomination criteria was selected for special mention for their on ice quality. A veteran of the British game, 2017/18 has been Joe Baird’s best season on the ice in recent memory and has been an ever present rock and calming presence when required. As one of the judges said “he loves the game and he loves this team.”

A massive thank you must go once again to Hannah Driver, Grant King, Nigel Simmonds and Jamie Walker for being part of the judging panel once again as well as a thank you to everyone who nominated their favourite player. Congratulations go to Aaron as the award’s first ever two time winner and we’ll look to get his trophy to him before the end of the season.

BOTW Player of the Year 2017/18 – nominations open

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Swindon fans who always try to rig the vote with their comedy selection; lend me your ears!

The final weekend of the Basingstoke Bison’s first season in the NIHL is on the horizon and as such today, we open the nominations for the 2017/18 BOTW Player of the Year.

As for the last few year, the BOTW Player of the Year award goes to the Bison player deemed “the best” by whatever metric you decide that means.

As of tonight (Monday 5th March 2018) nominations for the award will be open. You pick the ONE Bison player that you think is deserving of the title “player of the year”. You can choose them for any reason you see fit. Every fan gets one vote only.

You can vote in a variety of ways:

  • As a comment on this post

The player has to have played in a competitive fixture for the Bison in the 2017/18 season so pre-season does not count but any player who has played but has been released is eligible. You do not have to be a Bison fan to vote. Players that receive 3 votes are eligible for the final round.

Nominations close at midnight Saturday 10th March (so after the Autumn Cup final first leg against Swindon).

After nominations close, the BOTW Expert Panel convene once again to pick from those eligible.  The winner chosen by the panel is named the BOTW Player of the Year and wins the most drinkable trophy in sports, the “Edijs Brahmanis Trophy” which will be awarded once the panel makes its decision with a view to the winner being presented with the trophy after the first playoff game.

Who joins the ranks of Joe Rand, Tomas Karpov, Kurt Reynolds, Aaron Connolly and Dan Davies? Have your say so your player makes the panel’s discussion. You have till midnight on Saturday, have at it!

The BOTW Player of the Year 2016/17

Following our usual rigorous nomination process which yielded six candidates, the expert panel held their yearly meeting to weigh up those nominated and a decision has been reached. For the 5th time in its history and as BOTW celebrates its 6th birthday we have a winner for the most drinkable prize in sports, the “Edjis Brahmanis Trophy”.

Banners On The Wall Player of the Year 2016/17: #47 Dan Davies

(c) 5 Hole Photography

British forward Davies becomes the 5th player to win this blog’s player of the year and the third British player in succession following wins for Kurt Reynolds and Aaron Connolly. A capture during last summer from Telford, 27 year old Davies was added to the roster to help mount a defence of the EPL title. Whilst the Bison could not retain the league championship, Davies has become a popular player amongst the fanbase for his excellent two way play and industrious nature on the ice.

Award judge and Bison superfan Nigel Simmonds said that Davies “goes about his business without much fuss & for some reason goes under the man of the match award most weekends. Seriously doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. A very important cog in this teams wheel.”

Fellow judge and Bison off ice official Hannah Driver characterised Davies by calling him “a good all rounder that is often overlooked” though hopefully this accolade puts pay to that. Davies also received the most nominations from the public.

Other nominees:

#19 Vanya Antonov

One of the most talked about signings of the summer when he joined the Herd from Bracknell, the Russo-British forward was talked about by fans for all the right reasons on the ice with his excellent skating and great puck control. Award judge and club photographer Grant King commented that Vanya “has really upped his game since joining us his puck control is beyond his years. I think if we can retain his services next season we could see another jump in his evolution as a player.”

#53 Tomas Hiadlovsky

Award judge Jamie Walker felt that the Slovak netminder has been “solid all season long for the team who conceded the least amount of goals, says it all right there” when asked for comment. Hiadlovsky has taken some criticism for his puck playing style (a style that I personally love) but Hiadlovsky finished the regular season with a .915 save percentage and a 2.20 goals against average which is the best of any keeper to play more than 20 games.

#35 Rene Jarolin

Whilst he’s one of the team’s elder statesmen in terms of age, Jarolin arguably still has better vision and hands than players than anyone else in the team. A seemingly effortless skater Jarolin, who neglected to score with his face so far this season, has continued to be one of the better import centres in the league with a habit of scoring at moments when it seems almost impossible to do so.

#89 Ciaran Long

For me”, said Jamie Walker, “(Long) has been the most consistent player night in and night out right from the start. This guy sees the game as well as any import I think I’ve seen skate in Basingstoke, scores big goals, makes big plays, tracks back, steps back into D when asked to without question”. I don’t think there’s much more to add.

There was one more nominee. Whilst the BOTW Player of the Year is Bison specific, anyone can nominate and a few people decided to have a little joke. Here at BOTW, we’re able to laugh at ourselves a bit so this nominee got an award all their own;

The Mike Olynyk Award for “services to having a go”

#81 Jakub Barton

Jakub Barton was sadly just the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Brought in after Miroslav Vantroba announced his intention not to return, Barton never really settled into the Bison line up and was quickly released after 5 games. After leaving Basingstoke, Barton signed for French 2nd tier side Dunkerque in November 2016 and scored 6 points as he helped Les Corsaires stave off relegation.

A massive thank you must go once again to Hannah Driver, Grant King, Nigel Simmonds and Jamie Walker for being part of the judging panel once again as well as a thank you to everyone who nominated their favourite player. Congratulations go to Dan who we will endeavour to get the trophy to this weekend after the final home game of the season against Milton Keynes.

BOTW Player of the Year 2016/17 – nominations open

As the regular season draws to a close this coming Sunday, nominations are now open for the 2016/17 BOTW Player of the Year.

The BOTW Player of the Year award goes to the Bison player deemed “the best” by whatever metric you decide that means. Here’s how it works;

Starting 18:00 on Monday 13th March till 18:00 Monday 20th March, nominations for the award will be open. You pick the ONE Bison player that you think is deserving of the title “player of the year”. You can choose them for any reason you see fit. Every fan gets one vote only.

You can vote in a variety of ways:

  • As a comment on this post

The player has to have played in a competitive fixture for the Bison in the 2016/17 season so pre-season and the NIHL Selects game do not count. You do not have to be a Bison fan to vote. Players that receive 3 votes are eligible for the final round.

On Monday 20th March after voting closes, the BOTW Expert Panel will convene and will pick a winner from those eligible after the voting. The one chosen worthy is the BOTW Player of the Year and wins the most drinkable trophy in sports, the “Edijs Brahmanis Trophy” which will be awarded once the panel makes its decision.

Last season, captain Aaron Connolly took home the prize as he followed in the footsteps of Joe Rand, Tomas Karpov and Kurt Reynolds. Who will be the winner for 2016/17? Make sure your player is in the final discussion by voting!

The BOTW Player of the Year 2015/16

As is now tradition the fans voted for their finalists. 6 players made the final and were discussed by our panel that I affectionately call “The Council of Badass”. With the council having made their choice, the time has come to announce this year’s winner of the most drinkable trophy in sports, the “Edjis Brahmanis Trophy”.

Banners On The Wall Player of the Year 2015/16: #63 Aaron Connolly

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

The third time is the charm for Aaron after making the final in 2014 and 2015 as he becomes the first British forward to win joining Joe Rand, Tomas Karpov and Kurt Reynolds as a recipient of the award. In his third season with the club and his first as captain, 22 year old Connolly has now won every trophy on offer in the EPL with the Bison as the club secured their first league title since 1993 last Sunday. The captain is popular across the league, with team mates and the Bison fans with 2015/16 seeing him have a career year in goals and points with two games still to go.

Award judge, veteran ice hockey player and Bison off-ice official Hannah Driver characterised Connolly by saying “he has played hurt, ill, even with his lip half hanging off! He always gives 100% to every shift and raises the spirit of every other player on the bench.”

Fellow judge and club photographer, Grant King summed up Connolly by saying “his never say die attitude & skate till you drop style has helped him lead by example & every one of those guys in the locker room are with him 100%.”

Other nominees:

#50 Jon Baston

After signing for the team in the wake of an injury to Tomas Hiadlovsky early in December, 21 year old Baston was reportedly heading back to Finland when he received a call from Doug Sheppard and his season changed. Baston registered 6 shutouts in his first 11 games with the Herd and his combined numbers with his time at Hull give him a 91.44 save percentage across the season. The Finn’s ability to somehow keep pucks out of the net in the crush saved the Bison on many occasions.

#53 Tomas Hiadlovsky

A lot of people were initially wary of Hiadlovsky’s puck playing style in the early part of the season (a trait of his I personally like) and when he got injured, many thought he would be on his way out of the club with the success Baston was having. However after his return from injury, Hiadlovsky was rotated back in and is undefeated since his return. Hannah Driver added “he started our league campaign off well and he’s come back stronger and better and it takes a big man to do that after the success and charisma that Jonny has brought to the team.”

#92 Alan Lack

Boy, I used to hate this guy” said award judge and Bison super fan, Nigel Simmonds, “but as in previous years, with other players (Chinn, Cornish, Greener, Wales) that joined the Bison, I have come to admire them because of everything they do, when you see these guys play, week in, week out.” Lack originally signed on a two-way deal but impressed so much in pre-season that he was offered a full time deal. Lack’s no nonsense physical style have made him popular with the fans and he’s formed a potent scoring partnership with Tomas Karpov.

#94 Stuart Mogg

To say Mogg has had a breakout year would be an understatement so large you could ride it to the Isle of Wight. Having transitioned from forward to defence, Mogg picked up a lot of man of the match beers early in the campaign but also saw time as a forward due to injuries. One of the judges, Jamie Walker said Mogg was “the most improved player on the team over the last 2 seasons by a country mile. Versatile, smooth skater, moves the puck well, calm and plays wherever will help the team.”

#7 Kurt Reynolds

The 2015 player of the year, 29 year old Reynolds had another stellar year leading the Bison defence. Now in his 8th year with the Bison, the Basingstoke born player has built on his reputation as one of the league’s premier defencemen, British or otherwise. Grant King of 5 Hole Photography said Kurt is the “best British D-man in my opinion and has been for years; never panics & very rarely chooses the wrong play coming forward.”

Thanks once again to Grant, Hannah, Jamie and Nigel for their help and time with this. Congratulations to Aaron and we’ll get his trophy to him on Sunday after he picks up something silver that we’ve all been after.

BOTW Player of the Year 2015/16 – finalists announced

Nominations for this year’s BOTW player of the year award closed last night with face off of the Bison’s game with Telford. With the public’s choices taken into account, the expert panel will choose between the following Bison players for this year’s Edijs Brahmanis Trophy;

Jon Baston

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Aaron Connolly

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Tomas Hiadlovsky

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Alan Lack

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Stuart Mogg

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

Kurt Reynolds

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

The panel will discuss potential winners during the week and an announcement as to the winner will be made before next weekend’s games.