Bees ensure perfect birthday for ParrishBy Adam Lee
April 08, 2008
Dwight Parrish thanked his Bracknell Bees team for giving him the perfect birthday present on Sunday – qualification to the English Premier League Championship play-off finals.
Bees booked a semi-final showdown against Sheffield Scimitars at Coventry on Saturday with a thrilling 2-1 win over Milton Keynes Lightning in their last game at the Hive this season.
And player-coach Parrish, who was celebrating his 36th birthday, said: “It was pretty much just what I wanted.”
Bees were only able to snatch the second qualifying spot spot in their group thanks to a 4-3 win in Milton Keynes on Saturday after a penalty shoot-out.
And Parrish paid tribute to his players for the way they responded to the previous week’s 5-0 defeat at home to Slough Jets.
He said: “We knew it was going to be tough, going into the weekend. Milton Keynes were in the same position as us. It was winner takes all.
“But we battled hard and the guys played well. We scored on our chances while Rocky (Gregg Rockman) was great in goal.”
Bees edged out Milton Keynes 2-1 on penalties on Saturday thanks to successful shots by Jan Melichar and Tom Carlon.
And Parrish said: “It was the first time Tom has scored in a shoot-out for us. It was a great goal.
“And if you want it all to come down to one game on the Sunday, you want it to be at home.
“Credit to Milton Keynes because they played well against us.
“In the first 10 minutes we had some chances but did not finish them, then we got into penalty trouble and that took our momentum away.”
The loss of Joe Baird to a two-plus-10-minute penalty, for a check from behind, further depleted a defence which was already without the injured Sam Oakford.
Parrish said: “A team’s best penalty killer is its netminder and Rocky was terrific for us.
“Adam Bicknell also played very well, getting assists on both goals as well as taking the body, while Matt Foord dropped down to defence when we got into penalty trouble.”
Bees are hoping that Oakford may ice this weekend after suffering a shoulder injury while winning a silver medal with Great Britain in Division 2 Group B of the World Under-18 Championships in Estonia earlier this month.
The young British defenceman managed only a couple of shifts in Saturday’s game.
And Parrish said: “We hope that a bit more rest and treatment will enable him to play in the finals. It would be a big boost to get him back.
“He tried to play on Saturday but did not have the strength in his shoulder to clear the puck properly.
“He is only young and we don’t want to risk him aggravating the injury and landing him with a problem for the rest of his career.”
Parrish believes Bees have a good opportunity to add to the EPL Cup that they won earlier in the season.
To do that, though, he will need to emulate the achievement of his predecessor, Ryan Aldridge, who won the Championship play-offs in his first season in charge.
“We have as good a chance as any of the four teams left in the competition,” said Bees’ boss.
“Sheffield have been on fire recently. They have been hot in the play-offs and finished the league campaign well too.
"They have a very hard-working team and I expect our semi-final to be a tight game – just like the two we’ve had at the weekend.”
Bees’ boss is happy to be playing in the earlier semi-final of the day, which starts four hours before Slough Jets face off against league title winners Guildford Flames.
Parrish said: “If we get the win and make it to the final, it will give us a little longer rest. And I can watch the other game.
“Although at this stage of the season I know pretty much everything there is to know about Slough and Guildford, I can at least look to see if they are doing anything different from what they normally do.”