The Bracknell Bees are today announcing the first steps in their movement towards their involvement in the newly structured 2017-18 National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) South Division 1.
The Save the Bees campaign, before the start of last season, was a huge accomplishment and the three directors of Bees Live Limited having ensured the clubs survival followed that up in looking to provide a platform of stability in a period of uncertainty before the start of last season. The club moved forward and competed in the 2016/17 EPIHL season and Bees Live Limited were very successful in performing a stabilising and rebuilding role. With the season concluded and the recent necessary move to the National Ice Hockey League South 1 (NIHL) the John Nike Leisuresport group is now looking to build on these successes moving forward and to that end have brought the Bracknell Bees brand license back in house, as a temporary measure to ensure greater collaboration throughout Bracknell Ice Hockey as a whole and ensure the future of the Bees playing hockey next year.
Earlier this week the Bees confirmed their participation within the NIHL and with the new direction the club are heading within this league, in partnership with the Bracknell Ice Hockey Club (BIHC), and as part of this transition the club decision has been made to not retain the services of Player/Coach Lukas Smital.
The club wish to publically thank Lukas for his years of service with the Bees as a player, coach, Head Coach and Director of Hockey over two stints, and no less than nine seasons, with the team from 2004-2007 and 2011-2017. Having originally joined with club in 2004 Lukas was a key part of the Bees double winning British National League side and also a huge part of the clubs first two seasons in the EPIHL in which they won three more trophies. Returning to the club in 2011 Lukas also returned as a player/assistant coach of the Bees and in 2013 took over as player/head coach up until the end of the 2016-17 season.
The Czech born forward has racked up over more than 500 appearances and 650 points (in all competitions) for the Bracknell Bees, netting over 250 goals and recently becoming the English Premier Ice Hockey League’s leading all-time points scorer, with over 800 points to his name. In his time with the club he has won a BNL League & Cup double in 2004-05 and was voted to the BNL All Star Team that year, the following year he also won the EPIHL Cup and then an EPIHL League & Playoff double in 2006-07 before being voted to the EPIHL All Star Second Team in 2011-12 also.
Lukas was also Head Coach of the Bracknell Ice Hockey Club (BIHC) for a number of years as well as Bracknell Hornets (NIHL) Head Coach from 2007-2013, Bracknell Drones (U18) Head Coach in 2014-15 and Swarm (U16) Head Coach in 2012-13.
We wish to thank him for his dedication, hard work and sacrifice for both the Bees and BIHC over the years he has been involved with the Bracknell teams and in particular his involvement in the Save The Bees campaign during the off-season before the start of the 2016-17. Lukas is nothing short of a club legend and has been a fantastic servant to the club and a fantastic ambassador for ice hockey and especially Bracknell ice hockey and all associated with the club wish Lukas all the best with any future undertakings.
It has been agreed by all parties involved that once the trading company, that ran the Bees EPL team, settles all financial liabilities in full and complies with all of its statutory compliance duties it will be wound-up as an entity.. Additionally the outgoing Company, in an effort to be fully transparent, are happy to make available their financial records and accounts to those that might wish to scrutinise them, within reason. A Fans Forum is being planned and anybody wishing to can ask to view these at this event – further details of the event to follow.
In a further unrelated update the club also wish to announce that Matt Fettel has stepped down from his role within the Bracknell Bees organisation, for personal reasons. Matt was an integral part of the Save the Bees efforts and one of the three Directors who were the driving force in getting the Bracknell Bees onto the ice for the 2016-17 season. The club again wish to publically thank Matt for his relentless work and dedication to the club over the past 18 months without which the Bees future looked bleak.
Matt Fettel wished us to pass the following message on to the Bees fans:
“I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to make me feel so welcome, whilst playing a small part in the Bracknell Bees history. I also want to pass my sincere thanks to Lukas for asking me to be part of this project. Unfortunately, through doing this project, it has played a part in compromising a very special relationship to me, so at this moment in time I must prioritise and stand down from my position. I do however want to sincerely thank every player, coach, sponsor, partner, volunteer and supporter for not only believing in me and us but also for the incredible support you provide the club. Finally, it has been a true honour.”
The Bracknell Bees organisation understand that whilst these changes may appear to be disruptive and potentially unsettling to fans, sponsors, partners and players the club wish to assure everyone that, we the club, will move forward. To that end we will announce further developments, such as new coaching staff and the new management structure, as soon as appointments have been made and the details are available to be made public. We would again like to thank the Bees fans, sponsors and partners for their patience, understanding and ongoing support through this time of change.