The Bracknell Bees were formed in 1987, under the ownership of John Nike OBE. Bees began life in the Heineken League Division Two, under the leadership of former Durham Wasps and Nottingham Panthers forward, Jamie Crapper, where they finished 6th. The following season, Heineken withdrew their sponsorship of the second division, which was renamed the English League Division 1. Bees narrowly missed out on the championship to the Humberside Seahawks, but then won the league the following season, gaining promotion to the Heineken League Division 1. Having finished third, behind Humberside and the Slough Jets, Bees progressed to the top tier of British hockey, the Heineken Premier Division, via the play-offs, alongside the Seahawks.
That sparked a new beginning for the club. with Jim Fuyarchuck as coach. He re-installed the feel-good factor at the Hive. The Bees finished third in the first division but this time, they missed out to Milton Keynes Kings in the promotion play-offs.
However, this did not matter, as the following season saw the formation of a new league – The Ice Hockey Superleague (ISL) which was the country’s first fully professional league since the 1950s.
Bees were expected to be one of the smaller teams in this big league, playing against teams with big arenas. However, a creditable 6th of 8 was followed by a 3rd-place finish and then a fourth, before Bees did the unthinkable and took the Superleague title. Coach Dave Whistle, in only his second season as a coach, took our club to the very top
The Bees announced that they were to leave the ISL at the end of the 2002–2003 season.
The Bees joined the British National League finishing fourth in their first season, before going on to win the league and cup double in their second season. coached by ex Bees player, Mike Ellis, again coaching in his second season.
The next season the BNL folded and the Bees joined the EPIHL with Mike Ellis as coach. Ellis put together a mix of youth and experience and they tasted some success in their first EPL season. As well as finishing a respectable 5th in the league, Bees made it to the play-off final, beating the Sheffield Scimitars in the semi-finals at the SkyDome Arena in Coventry. Bracknell came up short in the final though, against the Milton Keynes Lightning. However, The Bees did go one better a few weeks earlier, in the EPL Cup, winning the two legged final against the Hull Stingrays in March.
Mike Ellis departed to become head coach of the Nottingham Panthers in May 2006 and was replaced on 25 May, by his assistant, Ryan Aldridge, with Lee Ealey-Newman bench coach.
10 months later, On 11 March 2007, the Bracknell Bees were crowned champions of the English Premier Ice Hockey League for the 2006/2007 season, following a 3–0 shut-out of the Romford Raiders, as the only remaining contenders for the title, the Sheffield Scimitars lost at Milton Keynes. Not content with one trophy though, Bees followed it up with their first ever play-off success at the SkyDome Arena in Coventry, overcoming the Peterborough Phantoms 2–1 in a semi-final shoot-out, before defeating archrivals and the previous season’s league champions, the Guildford Flames, 3–2, in the final
Dwight Parrish took over as coach for the 2007/08 and in a season of significant challenge off the ice, guided the team to victory in the EPIHL Cup Final, with a tense overtime victory against the Slough Jets, and a Play Offs Final runners up spot, this time losing out to Slough.
Adam Bicknell, Claude Dumas and Gareth Cox took the helm for the next few seasons, before Bees star Lukas Smital oversaw the club’s final few years in the soon to end EPIHL.
In 2017/18, Scott Spearing led the team in the newly revamped National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) Div 1 South, before current full time Director of Hockey and Head Coach, Doug Sheppard, was appointed in May 2018. In his initial season, he guided the team to it’s first Play Offs Finals weekend for 11 years and he continues to work tirelessly on and off the ice to further develop the club’s standing within the community and ensuring that a sound platform exists for years to come.
HIVE HALL OF FAME
The Bees have had many stand out players and contributors over the years and two of those (to date) have been inducted into the Bees Hive of Fame:
John Nike OBE – Mr Nike was responsible for bringing ice hockey to Bracknell and without him the Bees would not have any history to talk about. His legacy lives on within the Club and will continue to do so even with the move to Slough
Matt Coté was one of the longest serving member of the Bracknell Bees, serving club for ten years (1990–2000). Coté’s game play involved throwing his body in the way of slap shots. He is held in high esteem by players and fans alike and for this, the club honoured him by retiring his number 8 shirt following his retirement in 2005.
TSI World Ltd, a local IT services company became title sponsor for the 2019/20 season and despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the shutdown of competitive ice hockey, the Bees secured TSI World for another 7 years of title sponsorship in June 2020.