Recruitment drive continues at Bracknell Bees with 10 new signings

Shaun Thompson returns for another season at The Hive

DOUG SHEPPARD has made a host of new additions as he continues to shape his Bees squad ahead of the new season.

The new Bracknell boss has confirmed no fewer than 10 new additions in the last week, adding the likes of Dean Skinns and Vanya Antonov who had already been snapped up.

INTERVIEW: Scott Spearing backs the arrival of new head coach Sheppard

Shaun Thompson is one of those to have signed up for another year after a stellar campaign in 2017/18.

Following spells at Manchester and Basingstoke, Thompson has been back with the Bees for around two years and was a big winner at the recent awards night, claiming three trophies including player of the season.

Having averaged two points per game during Bracknell’s inaugural season in NIHL, Thompson is again likely to be a key figure to try and push Bees up towards the top spots.

Josh Martin is staying at The Hive

“Shaun is a great two way centre,” said Sheppard.

“He can create a lot offensively with his skill and hockey IQ. Defensively he is extremely reliable in all situations.”

Also signed up is Ryan Watt, who arrives from league rivals Streatham.

Watt, 28, is a product of the Basingstoke junior programme and was a regular member for Bees back in 2006/07 under a dual-registration deal with the Bison.

He has also had spells at Slough, Swindon and Hull before joining Streatham last year, where he returned over a point a game.

“Ryan has great leadership qualities,” said Sheppard.

“He can play a number of different styles with his offensive skill level and physical presence on the ice.”

Also announced at last week’s season ticket launch were the signings of Josh Smith, Josh Martin, Ryan Sutton, Stuart Mogg, Aidan Doughty and Ben Paynter.

And Sheppard has also recruited the Baird brothers.

Joe Baird follows Sheppard in arriving from Basingstoke Bison with more than 600 EPL games behind him.

Having made his first senior appearance 24 years ago, his career has spanned from the international youth scene, to Bracknell in 2005, Swindon and Basingstoke before now returning to The Hive.

“Joe brings a wealth of experience,” said head coach Sheppard.

“He’s another guy who’s familiar with Bracknell having played four seasons here.

“He’s won silverware and is intending to come in and win more silverware with the Bees. I have complete confidence to leave him in charge back there of the D-core.”

Younger brother Brendan, 22, is another defenceman who has also played for the Bees in the past.

Learning his trade in 2013/14, Baird played a season at The Hive before moving on and spent last year at Streatham Redskins.

“Brendon is a young rugged D-man who’s style is exactly what I like in that position,” explained Sheppard.

“He plays a tough physical style, he clears the front of the net and plays the game with a controlled edge.

“You always talk about building a team from the back out and we’ve got a great start to our D-core to play in front of our goalies Skinns and (Danny) Milton.”

More arrivals are expected over the coming weeks for Bracknell, with no foreign imports yet announced.

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