TYLER Vankleef netted a hat-trick as Bracknell Bees hammered Milton Keynes Thunder 7-1 at The Hive on Sunday, writes Dave Wright.

And that means he has scored nine goals, while assisting in six others, in just 12 appearances since joining the club from Nottingham Panthers in December.

“They are not bad stats, but I try not to focus on them,” admitted the 26-year-old Canadian forward.

“I just try to go out and play as well as I can for the team and help them to win games.”

Coming four days ahead of their South Cup semi-final second leg with Peterborough Phantoms, it was a victory Bees badly needed following their shock home defeat by bottom club Invicta Dynamos a week earlier,

“After our result against Invicta, which was a little disappointing, we knew we had to produce a good result and we came up strong,” said Vankleef.

“It was a big win and a good solid team performance which was much needed, and helps us to prepare for Wednesday.”

Looking ahead to the big cup match, he commented: “We know Peterborough are a very good team.

“We need to catch up on the aggregate as we are three goals behind. We need to play like we did on Sunday and hopefully things will work out for us. We will need to play hard and get the puck in the net a few times.

“It’s a big game for the team and supporters, and we want to get the win by a few goals and move on.”

Speaking to the News after the win over Milton Keynes, head coach Doug Sheppard said: “Tyler played a big game.

“We certainly know he can shoot and score goals. He has got all the abilities with the way he can skate and shoot the puck, and he can be physical.

“But overall what I am looking for is consistency and an all-round game from Tyler.”

Sheppard will be hoping Vankleef will maintain his hot scoring form against the Panthers.

After falling behind to a 10th-minute goal to Sean Norris, Roman Malinik (14th minute) and Zack Milton (19th) put Bees 2-1 ahead before Vankleef opened his personal account in the 29th minute when his side were on power-play, with Edward Knaggs providing the assist.

And Knaggs also helped set up the former Nottingham man’s next goal in the second minute of the final period, leaving the hosts 4-1 ahead.

After Aidan Doughty had bagged the fifth when Bees were short handed, man-of-the match Vankleef completed his treble in the 50th minute and three minutes later Malinik netted his second and his team’s seventh.

It took Malinik’s goal tally for the season to 22 in 32 appearances.

In all, Bees outshot Thunder 35-20, but netminder Dean Skinns was forced to pull off a number of smart saves to restrict the visitors to just the one goal.

Bracknell, fourth in the South One placings, should be capable of completing a quick double when they visit Milton Keynes this coming Sunday (6.45pm), having already won twice there this season, both by a 3-2 margin.