The Bristol Honda Pitbulls are delighted to confirm that Sam Smith will be returning to The Pound, signing a one-year contract in Bristol.
Smith played 17 times for the Pitbulls last season on a two-way deal with Swindon Wildcats, scoring 6 and adding 5 assists in those 17 games, quickly becoming the nemesis of Invicta, having scored all 6 of his goals against the Kent based outfit.
Born in Cardiff, the twenty-year-old played in the youth system in South Wales before joining Basingstoke Bison in 2018-19. Smith has already appeared in 80 NIHL National games split between Basingstoke and Swindon. Sam will continue to wear number 73 for 2022-23.
Smith is excited to be back and to be working under Jamie Elson for another season. He said “I’m very happy to be back for another year in Bristol. It was a tough ending last season, losing in the playoff semi-final, but I think we can look back and say it was a successful first season on the whole back in Bristol.
“After speaking to Jamie and Richie, I can see what they’ve got planned here and think it’s something that is very exciting. Experiencing the atmosphere in The Pound last season was incredible, as well as the support on the road being great, so it was a bit of a no brainer to come back.”
Speaking about his experience playing in the National League with Swindon & Basingstoke, Sam said “I think it’s been great being able to have that experience. It’s a faster and more physical game, learning how to compete with different kinds of teams and how to handle big game situations was big for my game.”
Jamie Elson was very happy to get the signing of Smith over the line, noting how he feels Sam is ready to step into a bigger role at National League level. He said “It is exciting to have Sam on board full time and officially a Pitbull for our first season in the National League. We got to see Sam a lot in the second half of last season, and he had a big impact for us on the back end, so it feels like a re-signing, but he was officially a Swindon player last year.
“He has a good skill set and skates really well as we saw first-hand. He’s comfortable on the puck and moving up ice and contributed at both ends of the ice for us in the games he dressed for Bristol. I’ve known Sam since he was young, working with him a lot as a junior in Cardiff, and he was always a great kid who had a high-end skill set and huge potential.
“He’s developed into a National League defenseman, but certainly hasn’t reached his potential yet. We really feel he has a lot more to offer and room to grow as a player. We are excited to get him in Bristol with us full time and have the chance to work with him and help him develop further. He’s been around some very good established teams in Swindon and Basingstoke in recent years and has already learned a lot from those experiences.
“Here in Bristol, he is coming in to probably play a bigger role and get more opportunities, and that will help his development. He’s at a time where he needs to be playing more and we are glad we can offer him that chance. He’s still only 20 and has already played a lot in National league level.
“Off the ice, Sam fitted into our room and team perfectly. He’s a great guy personally and really is the type of character we want around the club. He’s honest and hardworking and loves to compete and win. He loved his time playing for Bristol last year, in particular the home games at The Pound, and I know that was a big part of the attraction for Sam.”