SHAUN Thompson and Frankie Bakrlik both scored hat-tricks as Bracknell Bees launched their NHL 1 South campaign with a thrilling 7-5 win at Milton Keynes Thunder on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

In a game that swung one way to the other, Bees twice led, only to find themselves 5-3 down before producing a blistering final period to get their first league points on the board.

If this is what’s to come this season, then fans are in for a real treat and The Hive will be buzzing louder than it has for some years.

Thompson set up the first three goals for the Czech before netting a treble himself in the final period with Bakrlik assisting in two of them.

Bringing Bakrlik back to The Hive looks an excellent move by head coach Scott Spearing as he is providing the fire power that was missing last season.

It took him just over two minutes to get off the mark at MK, firing past former Bees net-minder Tom Annetts.

Annetts and his opposite number, Alex Mettam, were kept busy before the latter was beaten just before the 13th minute. Two ex-Bees from last season were involved in the power-play equaliser, Rio Grinnell-Parke supplying the finish after Rupert Quinney’s shot had been blocked by Mettam.

The second period started like the first, with Thompson setting up Bakrlik to regain the lead inside the opening minute.

Again, the visitors were unable to hang on for long with Quinney creating the chance for Gareth O’Flaherty to score in the 26th minute.

The ‘old boys’ connection continued when Grinnell-Parke fired Thunder ahead for the first time on 33:40.

Soon afterwards, it became five against three when home pair Tom Carlon and Jamie Line were sent to the sin-bin. Bees took advantage with Thompson presenting Bakrlik with the chance to complete his treble.

Going into the final period the game could have gone either way.

MK were first to put four goals on the board, Connor Goode netting in the 43rd minute. They then made it 5-3 with skipper Line hammering the puck over Mettam, their third power-play goal of the night.

Last season, Bees would have buckled under the pressure, but Spearing’s chargers are clearly made of sterner material.

They quickly pulled back a goal, Bakrlik the provider and Thompson the scorer. And within a minute the same duo brought the scores level at 5-5.

There was now no stopping Bees and they made it three goals in less than four minutes with George Norcliffe providing a powerful finishing to Callum Best’s assist.

Bracknell didn’t leave it there and, with Annetts being withdrawn, Thompson found an empty net for his third goal and send fans into seventh heaven.

In total, Bees had 35 shots on goal compared to MK’s 22, of which 10 were split evenly in the last two periods.

Bakrlik was named Bees’ man of the match with Quinney, who missed much of last season through a shoulder injury, earning Thunder’s award.

A delighted Spearing said: “It was another good result. The team did a great job to pull it back in the third period.”

Bees travel to Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday (7pm) and then on Sunday (6pm) there is National Cup action at The Hive with local rivals Basingstoke Bison the visitors.