Bracknell Bees go back to the old school in search of successBy Adam Lee
August 08, 2012
Bracknell Bees are looking to recreate a tried and tested formula in a bid to bring the glory days back to the Hive.
The club this week ended any speculation regarding their final import by announcing the signature of Czech defenceman Jan Bendik.
The 27-year-old becomes the second new import defenceman to join the club this summer, following in the footsteps of Marcel Petran.
It is the first time in three seasons that Bees will ice two import defenceman and two import forwards, rather than the three forwards and one D-man they have opted for since 2009.
And player/assistant coach Lukas Smital insists that he and head coach Gareth Cox made the decision in a bid to recreate the success of Bees teams of old.
“We wanted to tighten it up defensively, but there are not that many solid Brits in our price range,” said Smital.
“We were lucky to get a good Brit in Sam Oakford, but another import defenceman brings more depth and experience and also gives us more options – especially on the powerplay and penalty kill.
“Also, during the last year of success we had at Bees, when we won the EPL Challenge Cup (in 2007/08), was when we had two defencemen.
“Rather than scoring lots of goals, if you don’t concede as many you can always get away with winning games 1-0 or 2-1.
“If we won 1-0 all season no-one would complain, but at the same time you could score 200 goals and finish last in the table – which has happened at Bees.”
Smital, though, admits the jury is still out on how much of a success Bendik will be in the UK.
Although he has an impressive record with his former teams HC Hradec Kralove and HC Vrchlabi, who played in Czech 1 Liga, Bendik will undoubtedly never have experienced the same responsibility he will face at Bracknell.
As an import defenceman, he will be expected to play more minutes than almost any other skater, and will be an integral part of both the Bees powerplay and penalty kill.
But although it remains to be seen just how well Bendik will fit in at Bees, Smital believes that in their two import D-men, they have players of great skill.
“Petran is a tough player to play against,” he said.
“He’s got a beautiful shot which will help us on the powerplay and he is also effective on the penalty kill.
“Bendik has played at a higher level and everyone I have spoken to about him have good things to say about him.
“He is reliable, but he has got to be someone who can cope with lots of pressure and playing 30 or 40 minutes per game.
“I think he is the right guy for the job, though. He will bring more muscle and experience and decision-making ability.
“The Czech Extraliga is one of the top leagues in Europe. He has come from Czech 1 Liga which is the level below, but it is still incomparable with the EPL.
“In the EPL you play two defensive lines, but in his league you play four solid lines which are all of the same level.
“It’s also a different style of hockey – it’s much quicker out there and if you get caught out once or twice, you are straight out of the team.”