The off-ice report

Thursday, 21st April 2005

The recently crowned Play-Off Champions Coventry Blaze have moved quickly to secure their first re-signing of the summer, with the Elite League Player of the Year Neal Martin committing himself to Blaze for the 2005-2006 season. 

Blaze coach Paul Thompson explains how important a signing Martin is: "I don't expect to be able to re-sign every player from this year's team because people will move on.  But if I can get the nucleus of the side back together then it will be a huge building block when we look to retain the titles we have won this year.  Getting Neal back is the important first step."

Basingstoke manager Mark Bernard has some young British talent to the Bison for this coming season, having poached Mark Richardson away from the Bracknell Bees.  Richardson picked up the MVP for England Under 19s in the annual match against Scotland Under 19s at the EIHLA Play-Off Finals Weekend, a game that England won 4-3 with a late goal.  

Bernard was pleased to confirm the signing: "Mark was going to be one of the most sought after young British players this off-season and I am thrilled he chose to elevate his game whilst wearing the Wella Bison colours."

Basingstoke have also confirmed the return this season of Shawn Maltby, Dough Sheppard and Shaun Thompson, along with Jerry Galway and netminder Ronnie Vogel.

Sheffield Steelers' promising Brit Paul Sample has suffered a setback whilst on international duty with the Great Britain squad.  The forward picked up a broken hand during the GB loss against Norway in the World Championships, and as a result he will miss the rest of the tournament.

London Racers have confirmed that Dennis Maxwell will be back at the helm for the forthcoming season, following on from his debut season as a coach.  Maxwell himself is looking forward to the challenge: "I learned so much this season and I've more confidence as a coach and person.  I know that we can expect a great third year."

Elite League newcomers Newcastle Vipers have announced that both Rob Wilson and Paul Ferone, co-owners of the team with Paddy O'Connor, will be icing in Vipers colours this coming season.

by Richard Allan