BRACKNELL Bees swarmed all over their opponents last weekend, firing in a total of 83 shots at goal in two games, writes Dave Wright.

But, incredibly, they managed to hit the target only on three occasions and, as a result, crashed to defeat in both NIHL Division 1 South games.

Bees lost 5-1 at Invicta Dynamos on Saturday – having won there in the National Cup a fortnight earlier – and 24 hours later were walloped 7-2 at home by table-topping Peterborough Phantoms.

All three Bees goals came from Callum Best, who won the man-of-the-match prize on Sunday.

Bees, beaten twice by Telford Tigers in the National Cup the previous week, have now suffered four defeats in a row – and there is a simple reason for their slump.

They have been without the suspended Frankie Bakrlik, their leading marksman with 20 goals, second-top scorer Shaun Thompson and injured player-coach Scott Spearing. All have been badly missed.

Bracknell News:

Bees netminder Danny Milton makes a big save in the 7-2 defeat to table-topping Peterborough Phantoms. Pictures: Kevin Slyfield Photography.

With three key players missing, Bees have had to chop and change their lines and that has caused a lack of understanding and cohesion among the team.

The Bracknell management decided not to appeal against Bakrlik’s six-match ban for a challenge on Invicta’s Brandon Webster, no doubt realising that four of those games are in the National Cup, where Bees are rock bottom of their group and with only a slim chance of qualifying for the knock-out stages.

Webster, who needed hospital treatment after bouncing off Bakrlik’s broad shoulders, returned to face the Bees again last Saturday and again became involved in a bout of argy bargy.

This time it was with Bracknell’s other import, Jan Bendik, the pair both being sending to the sin-bin for roughing late in the game. In all, Webster picked up 16 penalty points during the evening.

At least he had the last laugh, as he finished on the winning side although that was due in no small measure to the heroic efforts of net-minder Damien King.

He ruled his area, keeping out 18 shots in each of the first two periods. He faced a further 23 in the final 20 minutes, only being beaten by Best with less than six minutes of the game remaining.

Bracknell News:

Face-off at The Hive between Bracknell Bees and Peterborough Phantoms.

By then, Bees were 5-0 down, having conceded a goal after just 41seconds, followed by four more in the second period, by which time Daniel Milton had replaced Alex Mettam between the pipes.

Tom Avery was voted Bracknell’s man of the match on a night when the travelling fans must have been left disappointed by their team’s general performance.

Sadly, it didn’t get much better on Sunday when Peterborough came to the Hive boasting an impressive league record of 10 wins from 12 games, and having beaten Bees in every match expect one in the last four seasons.

Yet, the hosts started brightly enough with James Galazzi going close before Best turned in a short pass from Tom Avery to open the scoring with a power-play goal in the seventh minute.

But they held the lead for only 22 seconds of play with Nathan Salem bringing the scores level.

A spell of sustained pressure led to Best restoring Bracknell’s lead in the 18th minute with Steve Osman providing the final assist.

Bracknell News:

George Norcliffe sparks a Bees attack.

But once again, the cheers of the Bees fans had hardly died away when they were left groaning as Phantoms needed just 45 seconds to equalise through import Ales Padelek.

Like on Saturday, the middle period didn’t go at all well for Bees with Ed Knaggs putting the visitors ahead with a short-handed goal on 22:33.

They even failed to take advantage when left with five-against-three and five-against-four situations.

George Norcliffe and Osman both had chances to bring Bees level before Darius Pliskauskas made it 4-2 in the 38th minute.

Milton’s goal continued to come under pressure in the third period with the tiring Bees conceding further goals to Pliskauskas and Will Weldon before Salem added the Peterborough’s seventh 58 seconds before the final hooter.

Bees face no easy task in returning to winning ways this weekend. They visit Basingstoke Bison on Saturday (6.30pm face-off) and host Swindon Wildcats on Sunday (6pm), both in the National Cup.

Josh Tetlow, the Bees defender, has been named in the Great Britain squad for the six-team Under-20 World Championships (Division 2) tournament in Dumfries which runs from December 10 to 16.

GB will be playing Estonia, Japan, Korea, Netherlands and Romania as they look to secure promotion back to the top flight.