Olly Shone, the player with more goals for the Bristol Pitbulls than any other, will return to Bristol for the 2021-22 season.

Shone first came to Bristol in 2011, having come up through the Slough junior development system. Once in Bristol, his natural goal scoring ability became immediately obvious, averaging a goal a game in Division 2 that first season.

Shone became a foundation of the Pitbulls over his eight seasons with clubs, forging a series of formidable partnerships. In the early years, he was a part of the AWOL line (“Adi with Olly and Liam“). In his last year with Bristol, he joined up with Steve Osman where they combined for 47 goals.

By the time he left, seeking ice time in the higher league with Oxford City Stars, his 182 goals gave him a commanding lead of 34 over second place. Furthermore, his 201 games made him one of only five players to record a double century of games. He is also only 10 points short of being only the third player to hit the 300-point mark.

With Bristol entering the higher Division 1, Shone was given an opportunity to return to the club that has defined his senior career.

Shone said: “Bristol is where my heart is!

“I really enjoyed my time in Oxford. The guys are all top guys and it’s a very well run club, so thank you to them. It was a bit of a learning curve, playing different systems. Even just the tempo from what I had been used to was a good step up.

“But as soon as I knew there was an opportunity to come back and play for the Pitbulls at the same level, it was an easy decision to make. With the arrival of my son, Archie, in November, my family life has changed too. So to be back local it’s even more important.”

Having been a key member of the league/playoff double team in 2015, Shone has some special memories from his time with the club.

He said: “Obviously the year we won the Playoffs was pretty special. Becoming top scorers for the club was pretty cool, too. But to be honest it’s more just the amount of good times we had over the years despite all the extra travelling and all the challenges, we (nearly) always had a good laugh and competed.

“Oh, and another great one I can’t miss out… The open top bus celebration through Bristol when absolutely no one knew who we were was also up there with favourite memories.”

Looking forward, Shone is in no doubt of the size of the challenge ahead but believes the character formed over Bristol’s years on the road.

He said: “I think it would be a bit ambitious to say we are going to win the league. But, one thing I know about Bristol, having played for them for so long, is that we always competed. We beat teams over the years that on paper we probably shouldn’t have. And whilst only training once or twice a month.”

Olly Shone in action for the Bristol Pitbulls

And will he protect his goal scoring record by refusing to pass those team-mates too close to him in the standings?

He said: “First answer is no absolutely not! I would much rather the team win!

“Second answer, I’m sure they will find a way to get the assist anyway!”

Elson said: “When Olly expressed his desire to return to the Pitbulls for this season, it wasn’t a hard choice to have him part of our roster. Olly has led the Bristol Pitbulls in scoring in his years with the team and the players I spoke to had nothing but great things to say about him, both as a player and person.

“He moved onto Oxford to show that he can play at NIHL1 level and that experience has left him wanting more.

“I think he will be a big part of what we do this year. He has a way of finding scoring, but also is hard to play against with his size. We want him to be a handful on the ice for opposition teams.

“He knows what it’s about to be a Bristol Pitbull and I know that he is excited to be returning to us, ready to bring the team back home to Bristol.  With some of the talented younger guys we have joining, it’s important to get the right senior guys on the roster and we are confident that Ollie will bring some veteran leadership and support.”

Shone’s number 11 jerseys are all being Owned and Loaned by Steve Starr. He is still available for player sponsorship. Email Richie Hargreaves at sponsorship@bristolpitbulls.co.uk for more details.

Olly Shone celebrates with Jack Hayes after scoring against the Peterborough Phantoms