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Bees Ice Hockey Club and Slough Jets to share Slough Ice Arena after closure of The Hive

The newly named Bees Ice Hockey club have confirmed that they’re moving to the Slough Ice Arena in Montem Lane following the recent closure of Bracknell’s Ice rink, known as The Hive.

Bees head coach Doug Sheppard said in a statement released on Thursday morning that it was devastating news the Hive was closing, however, ‘upbeat’ discussions with Slough Borough Council, Everyone Active and the Slough Jets has come up with the resolution of the club moving to Slough.

It will ensure the club’s legacy of 33 years in ice hockey lives on whilst ensuring the club can continue playing in tier 2 of the senior men’s ice hockey league.

The club – formerly known as the Bracknell Bees – said it was looking forward to forging strong links with the Slough Jets and the Slough Jets Juniors, with the clubs now set to jointly use the Hangar.

The owners of the dry ski slope and ice skating complex in Bracknell announced it would not reopen in July, following its closure for coronavirus. John Nike Leisuresport Limited said a financially viable plan for the complex, which features the 2,400 seat ice skating area known as The Hive, could not be found. All 67 staff based at the site in John Nike Way were made redundant.

“It was devastating news when the announcement came through that the Hive was closing,” said Sheppard. “It was a nervous time for us as an ice hockey team having no ice. Our thoughts, however, very much remain with the staff affected by the closure and we wish them well in securing future employment.

“We sat down and considered our options and have had some very upbeat discussions regarding our move to Slough. We’d like to thank Everyone Active (who manage and run the Slough Ice Arena), Slough Borough Council and the Slough Jets for being nothing but positive and welcoming us with open arms.

“We’re now looking forward to working with the Slough Jets and the Slough Junior Jets and becoming a full part of the Slough Ice Hockey community, as well as proudly continuing our heritage of 33 seasons in Bracknell.”

Further announcements on the move and the scheduling of matches will be released in due course, with the club looking forward to getting its first season in Slough underway in conjunction with EIHA and central government guidance on COVID-19. Bees director Stuart Robinson added that the move to Slough would ‘help the Bees survive’ as a ice hockey club and, after encouraging talks, he believes they now have the perfect platform to further grow its successful schools and community outreach programme.

“We’ve been really impressed with how encouraging Everyone Active, the council and the Jets have been in helping the Bees survive. Among the positives, we believe we have a perfect platform to further grow our successful schools and community outreach programmes, not only continuing in the Bracknell and Wokingham area, but also now expanding into Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead.

“We think we have an exciting future ahead but now more than ever we need the fantastic support of Bees fans and sponsors to keep with the club and cheer the guys on in our new home.”

Steve English, the Jets’ director of operations, welcomed the Bees to the Hangar and said the two clubs would be working together to ensure their mutual success going forward.

“While for a long time the Jets and Bees were rivals, we, like many in the hockey community, were saddened to hear news of the Hive closing,” he said. “We will work closely with the Bees to ensure success for both clubs at the Hangar. Given the ongoing situation with COVID-19 the opportunity for both clubs to use the Hangar ensures the ongoing success of the fantastic facility provided by Slough Borough Council and Everyone Active.”

Jets head coach Lukas Smital, added: “I look forward to the opportunities we now have to work together off the ice to ensure growth and success for ice hockey in the local community, continuing to build on the recent strong junior and senior development.

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