Had my first taste of ENL hockey on Saturday when I had an exhibition game against the ENL1 side of the Pitbulls. I think it was first time in nearly 10 years when I saw that many people watch a hockey game (that I was playing in). Where the ENL1 side had more experience and maybe half a step more pace, I thought that all in all we put up a good fight.
There is an infinite amount of potential in the team and once everything gels together, then I think that the Pitbulls ENL2 side will be somewhat of a force to be reckoned with. The coach definitely has a good direction and vision for the team of how he wants us to play and how he wants us to work. Personally I’m a fan of his coaching style as I was once the same when I was coaching the Spitfires, before handing the reigns over to Captain Canada.
One thing I keep getting asked by team mates and people is why Bristol? Why didn’t I sign for Basingstoke or a team that was closer by? Sure I know that the journey to training is a bit long, but at the end of the day there were reasons why I wanted to sign for Bristol. When I was looking for a team and contacting the teams in the South, Richie, who owns and runs the Pitbulls, was the first one to get back to me and explain what the team was about and how they did things. Few of the other teams that I was in touch with were promising as well and where I got to skate with them, my knee operation put me out of the action for a while and once I was allowed to resume skating I was told that all ‘import’ positions had been filled.
The main reason why I wanted to sign for the Pitbulls was simple. I wanted to develop as a hockey player. I believe that an old dog can still learn new tricks and with the quality of players on the team (both ENL1 and 2), combined with the coaching staff, I felt that it was a good environment to learn and develop. That’s from the individual side of things. The other reason was that I wanted to play for a team that took things seriously and was able to fight for winning games, again few ticks in the Pitbulls box there.
So how about the game against the ENL1 side then? Where we lost, I think we put up a fight and showed that the dog has some fight in it. Like I mentioned before, there’s a lot of new guys in the team (myself included) who just need to learn how to play together. Once we gel together and the pieces fall together it will be a good strong team.
The new season is just around the corner as well and it is with eager anticipation that we look forward to a few weeks of intense training so that we are ready to face Slough on the 3rd of September in its Hangar. My personal anticipation is that it will be a close game. Slough is a new team, though many of the players there have experience in ENL2 hockey and looking at the roster, the team sure has a few old Basingstoke Buffalo guys playing for them as well. I think we have a slight advantage in that our pre-season has been longer, though Slough hosted its try-outs while I was still recovering from my knee op so I don’t know how long they have been on the ice for.
None the less, I’m sure it will be a tight game and a new rink for me to play in. From then on it is pretty much flat out till Christmas and I’m really looking forward to it.