Stevie Dowds’ departure from Banbridge should be seen as an opportunity.
That’s the message from the Head Coach to some of the club’s other stars.
The forward has long been a leading light in this current group of Bann players. But now, they need somebody else to step into the gap.
And that means there’s a chance for someone to become the club’s new hero.
“It’s a big opportunity for the likes of Fraser Mills, Johnny McKee and Owen Magee to make the step up,” said boss Mark Tumilty. “Hopefully they can influence games more consistently now.
“Even younger players like Jake Rowe will come in and play a lot more this season. It’s a big year for some players. Sam Farson as well - can those guys make the next stride and become top players for their club in the IHL?
“Eugene (Magee) might even play a few games up front for us but I’m happy with the squad we’ve got.
“We have a smaller group now and that can be a positive. I think we have enough depth in the squad anyway and it will give other people an opportunity.”
Tumilty’s side finished well adrift of champions Lisnagarvey in last season’s EY Hockey League but even with Dowds’ departure from Banbridge, the Head Coach thinks they can claw back some ground on their old rivals.
“We’ve lost Stevie but they’ve lost Mikey Watt too and in any games I saw last season, I thought he was the stand-out player,” he said.
“He offered them a great attacking option. Errol (Lutton - Garvey Head Coach) did very well with them last season. To go 19 games unbeaten was a fantastic run.
“They’ve laid down the challenge but I think we will be better than we were last season and I think we can close that gap.
“We lacked the consistency we needed and that killer instinct. We have to be better in both circles and our corners have to be better. We have a lot of work to do but I know we can do it.”
Bann’s EY Hockey League campaign begins with a double header with Three Rock coming to Havelock on September 24 and Bann heading to Glenanne a day later.