Defencemen key to Bees progress this season - Cox

Published: 14 Sep 2012 08:000 comments

BRACKNELL Bees head coach Gareth Cox believes his side can be a 'force to reckoned with' in the English Premier Ice Hockey League this season.

Bees head coach Gareth Cox.

Bees finished ninth in the division last year, missing out on the play-offs after defeat on the final day of the campaign.

In a bid to at least make the post season this time around, Cox and his coaching staff have been busy recruiting and tying players down over the summer.

Perhaps the most significant change is the switch to two import defencemen in Jan Bendik and Marcel Petran.

It will be the first time in three seasons that Bees have split the imports between defence and the forward line, rather than having three up front.

And head coach Cox thinks having the two Eastern Europeans at the back will help his side concede less goals - a major problem in recent years.

"The two import D men make a big difference for us," he said. "Their first pass is very good, they can shoot and they are strong. Hopefully they will continue to improve and then the forwards will get us some goals as well.

"Even though we lost the pre-season games with Slough we can take a lot of positives from the matches and when we start gelling and coming together as a team we will be a force to be reckoned with.

"We have improved in the areas we needed to improve over the summer. It's never nice letting people go but it needed to be done and we have done it."

Bees face a tough start to the 2012/13 campaign as they go to Basingstoke Bison on Saturday evening (6.30pm f/o) and then host Guildford Flames the following night (6pm f/o).

Both teams are expected to be challenging at the top of the table this year, along with Sheffield Steeldogs, who Bees face in their third match.

"We have a really tricky first month," admitted Cox. "We want to get points on the board early to set us up well for the season.

"The play-offs is the minimum aim for us. We want to go as far as we can, but until we see every team and play them it is tough to know how the league will shape up, we know it will be difficult though."

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