SCOTT Spearing says he is looking forward to following in the footsteps of some great Bracknell Bees coaches after being appointed the club’s new head coach, writes Dave Wright.

He succeeds player-coach Lukas Smital, who has not been retained by the John Nike Leisuresport bosses currently looking after the Bees’ affairs on a temporary basis.

This follows their decision to move into National League South Division 1 now that the Premier League has collapsed. Local rivals Basingstoke Bison and Swindon Wildcats, as well as Peterborough Phantoms, have made a similar move.

The decision to axe Smital is due to the fact the Bees are looking to go in a new direction, forging closer links to the Hornets and the club’s junior section.

The Czech’s departure comes at a time when a lot of changes are taking place at the club. Imports David Gaborcik and Martin Pavlicek have left to play in the French second division, while Josh Tetlow has moved up to Elite League club Nottingham.

Other changes in the roster are to be made, both outgoing and incoming.

Spearing confirmed he will be recruiting, saying: “I will be looking for players who train hard, play hard and are part of a team that plays for each other every game.

“I firmly believe that man management and relationships with the players are key to getting the very best out of them on the ice.”

The 31-year-old, who missed much of last season due to a knee injury, has spent a large part of his career with the Bees, having played in nearly 400 EPIHL games for them.

Speaking of his appointment, Spearing said: “I am obviously delighted to have been given the opportunity to be the head coach of a club with the history that the Bees have.

“I am certainly following in the steps of some truly great coaches over the years and I look forward to continuing the great work that has been done in the past and build on the base already in place.”

He will also be working closely with Bracknell Hornets’ new head coach Danny Hughes in an effort to continue to develop junior players.

Spearing added: “I would like to thank the Bracknell Bees management for giving me this exciting opportunity to lead the Bees in our first National Ice Hockey League season.

“I would also like to thank Lukas for his support and all he has done for me and many other players over the years. He has been a great team-mate, coach and true friend over the past 13 years and I wish him well.”

Smital was also a club director, along with Carol Miller and Matt Fettel, with the latter having resigned last month for personal reasons.

The John Nike Leisuresport group has brought the club’s licence back in-house, although they say it is only as a temporary measure.

They have publicly thanked the 42-year-old Smital for his years of service.

They said in a statement: “We wish to thank him for his dedication, hard work and sacrifice for both the Bees and BIHC over the years he has been involved, in particular, his involvement in the Save The Bees campaign before the start of the 2016-17 season.

“Lukas is nothing short of a club legend and has been a fantastic servant to the club and a fantastic ambassador for ice hockey especially with Bracknell.”

But the praise hasn’t eased the pain for Smital, who said: “I understand head coach is not a job for life, however, I believe that the way I have been dismissed is not how I would have expected to end my coaching and playing career with Bracknell, especially as there has never been a reason given for why I was sacked.

“To have the opportunity to end my career in the club’s 30th season and also my testimonial year was always my dream. I chose Bracknell to start my career in the UK and I had always wished to end it here as well.”

In addition to thanking the club’s off-ice staff, Smital had a special word for the club’s supporters.

He described them as “truly amazing”, adding: “I would have loved to be able to say goodbye properly on the ice and it hurts to think that I won’t get the opportunity to do that.”

The JNL management added: “We understand that whilst these changes may appear to be disruptive and potentially unsettling, we wish to assure everyone that the club will move forward. We will announce further developments, such as new coaching staff and the new management structure as soon as appointments have been made.

“We would again like to thank the Bees fans, sponsors and partners for their patience, understanding and ongoing support through this time of change.”