SHAUN Thompson believes Bracknell Bees will go into the Division One South play-offs in good shape, writes Dave Wright.

He produced a man-of-the-match performance when his side hammered London Raiders 6-1 at the Hive on Sunday, with two goals and an assist.

And the Raiders are now guaranteed to be Bees’ opponents in the opening stage of the play-offs with the clubs currently lying fourth and fifth in the table ahead of the last round of games in the regular season.

Bees were well below their best when crashing 6-3 at Swindon on Saturday, but bounced back in fine style against London despite being without their suspended leading scorer Frankie Bakrlik.

“It was a massive change from last night, the boys responded well,” Thompson told the News.

“Even though there may not be much to play for in the league at this stage, it’s all about the play-offs and all about momentum and being in form.

“We showed that tonight and we now have to carry it onwards.”

He added: “We have a good team here. We have goalscorers, hard workers, hitters, playmakers, we have everything.”

Bees were certainly impressive last Sunday, showing high intensity from the first drop of the puck and not giving the Raiders any chance to settle.

“That’s how we should be playing all the time,” said Thompson. “Bracknell has always been an in-your-face style of team, making it a hard place to come and play.

“We have to do it all the time. Unfortunately, we haven’t been consistent enough lately. It happened tonight and, hopefully, the boys will build-up confidence and keep this train rolling.”

It was Thompson who opened the scoring against the Raiders in the 10th minute, and he nearly scored again before helping to set up his side’s second goal for Danny Ingoldsby in the 14th minute. Callum Best was also involved in both goals.

Although the Raiders missed a couple of clear-cut chances, Bees enjoyed much the better of the opening 20 minutes, out-shooting their visitors 12-5.

Alex Barker, quickest to react after the puck had rebounded back off net-minder Michael Gray’s pads, made it 3-0 in the opening two minutes of the second period.

Marek Nahlik pulled one back for the Raiders on 33.05, but a minute later George Norcliffe added Bracknell’s fourth from a Josh Tetlow assist.

Thompson netted his second and Bees’ fifth in the 54th minute and three minutes later Josh Martin completed the scoring with Best once again involved in the build-up.

There was quite a lot of niggle between the teams with four fights occurring during the evening, meaning trips to the home sin-bin for Scott Spearing, Martin, Jan Bendik and James Galazzi, the latter pair at the same time.

“Some of what happened tonight was a bit stupid,” admitted Thompson. “The intensity of the play-offs definitely goes up, so we will need to keep a cool head. If it does come down to us two (Bees and Raiders), it will be a hell of a series.”

Bees, though, will have to navigate their way through the play-offs and beyond without top scorer Bakrlik, who was hit with a massive 18-match ban by the English Ice Hockey Association yesterday (Tuesday).

The 34-year-old Czech was pulled up by league officials following two separate incidents of ‘checking to the head’, the most recent coming in an 8-4 home defeat to Basingstoke Bison at The Hive last month.

Ben Ealey-Newman, who was also in trouble with the match officials at the end of the Basingstoke game, was also suspended last weekend.

But as Thompson stressed: “One or two guys don’t make a team. We scored without them tonight. If everyone in a yellow shirt chips in, we will be absolutely fine.”

Thompson had also netted in last Saturday’s defeat at Swindon, with Best and Bees’s player-of-the-match Martin, with the best goal of the evening, adding their names to the scoresheet.

Bracknell conceded six goals in the opening 25 minutes, before pulling one back shortly afterwards and then two more late in the game, which saw them produce a total of 49 shots – many of them straight at the net-minder – compared to Swindon’s 26.

Bees host Swindon Wildcats in the final home league fixture of the season this Sunday (6pm f/o).

  • BRACKNELL Hornets strengthened their National Ice Hockey League Two South title bid with a 2-1 victory against rivals Solent Devils at The Hive on Saturday night.

Solent took the lead through Alex Trendall, who mopped up after Hornets netminder Will Sanderson had saved Mitch Murray’s initial effort.

But Josh Ealey-Newman levelled when he sniped past Christian Cole with a neat wrist-shot to make it 1-1.

Will Stead put Hornets ahead by firing past Cole who had saved Adam Bicknell’s effort.

Tony Barclay took the man-of-the-match honours for the Hornets, though Sanderson ran him close with some vital saves.

The win leaves the Hornets third in the table and in the driving seat for the title as they have two games in hand on second-placed Solent Devils and four in hand on leaders Oxford City Stars.