Kenton Smith checks in with Phoenix

Tuesday, 10th June 2008

Manchester Phoenix have completed two weeks of negotiations with the signing of experienced Canadian defenceman Kenton Smith from the Charlotte Checkers of the East Coast Hockey League.

Phoenix head coach Tony Hand was undeniably pleased when he commented, “Kentons’ name came my way couple of weeks ago and I was immediately interested. Everyone I talked to spoke highly of him and his record in Charlotte indicates a very solid, consistent performer. I also talked to guys who’ve played against him and they too spoke well of his defensive attributes. He’s been very professional in the negotiations and I like that in a player’s character – I’m very pleased that he’s joining us, I think he’ll be a great addition to our roster.”

Twenty-eight year old Kenton Smith hails from Edmonton Alberta and began his hockey career with the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League where he played a major part in the club winning its first League Championship in 1999. Signing as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Lightning the following year, the left-shot defenceman iced the majority of his rookie professional season with the Detroit Vipers and then joined the Johnstown Chiefs for the run-in to the post season. Moves south followed and Kenton became a mainstay of the rearguard of the Charlotte Checkers, spending five of the last six seasons in North Carolina.

“I like Charlotte, my girlfriend Aynsley is from Charlotte and the Checkers have been a great organisation to be involved with,” he said. “But at the end of the season, I thought maybe it was time for a change of scenery and a whole new challenge. I talked to my agent and Manchester came up and I thought that would be interesting. Guys I know who’ve played in England say good things about the league and tell me I’m coming to a smaller arena, but one with with an intense atmosphere.”

Standing six feet and weighing in at 180lbs, Kenton added, “I’m not the biggest, but I play a physical game. Taking care of things in our end of the ice is the main role, but I do like to jump up to help on offense when I can. I pride myself on my plus/minus record, keeping the opposition off the scoreboard whilst chipping in a few points myself. I like to think I’m a good skater, like to use my speed and most of all, I want to win a championship.”

Phoenix will release double signing news on Friday with another new player to the club and a returnee from last season. GM Andy Costigan advised, “the roster building is proceeding well and we’re confident that Fridays’ announcement of two players will be well received.”

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