HEAD coach Doug Sheppard says he "would love to bring trophies" to Bracknell Ice Hockey Club – and the first could even come as early as this weekend, writes Dave Wright.

Sheppard, who has just agreed a new three-year contract with the club, has guided the Bees to the NIHL Division One South play-offs final, where they will face Peterborough Phantoms, with the first leg at the Hive on Saturday, followed by the return 24 hours later.

It means they have also qualified for the national finals weekend in Coventry on April 13-14, when the South finalists will take on North equivalents, Hull Tigers and Sheffield Steeldogs.

Bees secured their final ticket with Peterborough by beating Swindon Wildcats 8-5 (2-2, 6-3) on aggregate in last weekend's semi-finals.

Their victory on Sunday was remarkable – and a little unexpected – as Swindon had won the league title, finishing 12 points ahead of fourth-placed Bees.

But Sheppard's men rose to the occasion with six good goals and some solid defending, and he felt his team are playing their best hockey of the year.

This is the Canadian's first season with the Berkshire Cycles-sponsored Bees and he is "very thrilled" to be staying for another three years.

"I am really happy to be here and been given the opportunity to push forward and I would love to bring some trophies to Bracknell," Sheppard told the News.

"A lot of different things have been going on here; there is always a transition when you come to a new club. It has been a stepping stone this year and we are not done yet.

"I am happy with some things on the ice and a lot of things off the ice.

"We are not at the top (of the league), so we have something to strive for next year, but still have a lot of unfinished business for the rest of this season."

The former Slough and Basingstoke coach continued: "I’d like to thank the directors for their continued support. It has been a team effort to drive a new culture into the club, of which we are only at the beginning. There’s still plenty of hard work to do – but I’m relishing the challenge.”

Bees director Stuart Robinson said: "We are extremely pleased Doug has committed his talents for at least the next three seasons. We believe he is without a doubt the right guy to move the club forward on and off the ice, as we return to an exciting, truly National league set-up.

“Doug has brought the feel-good factor back to the Hive and has worked tirelessly this season to bring in fantastic numbers of new supporters and sponsors and inspire a growing army of volunteers.

"We know he will continue to build on that, keep valuing the special place the Bracknell Bees has in our local community and also try and help us win back longer-standing fans who have dropped away over the last five years or so, by putting together another entertaining and competitive team.”

Bees host Peterborough at the John Nike Way rink on Saturday (6pm) with the return leg taking place on Sunday at 5.30pm.