News

Phoenix land Nottingham double

Friday, 15th May 2009

Manchester Phoenix player coach Tony Hand promised the clubs supporters an exciting, hungry and talented group of British players and he's completed the homegrown element of his squad with the double signing of Nottingham born forwards James Neil and Robert Lachowicz.

Right shot centreman James Neil and left shot winger Robert Lachowicz are both 19-year olds looking to make the most of the chance to forge their blossoming careers in the English Premier League under the guidance of Tony Hand. Neil noted, "I want to play a regular shift and for that I needed a new challenge. It's been great learning to play through the Nottingham system, but you need to play regularly to really feel part of the team and that meant a move and with Manchester opting for the EPL, it's a great opportunity for me to stake a claim in the side and become a regular contributor. I'm happy to play both ends of the ice and get stuck in in the corners to win the puck for others. I'm coming to Manchester ready to work and with a few points to prove.

Neils' hometown friend Robert Lachowicz - pronounced Lachovitch - was equally frank when he remarked, "Despite being part of the Panthers squad, I didn't feel I was ready for the Elite League and had made the decision in my own mind that a move to the EPL was in my best interests. I heard Joe (Graham) was joining Manchester and thought that was the kind of move I wanted. I was really excited for James when he was contacted and when Tony Hand came on the phone to me, I was delighted to accept his offer. Knowing many of the guys on the squad already, it'll be real easy for Neilzy and me to settle in. I'm quite a shy person off the ice, but on the ice is where I get a chance to express myself, play with energy and hopefully contribute offensively for the team."

Playing for the Great Britain U-20's last season, both Neil and Lachowicz played on a line with another Phoenix signing, Iain Bowie, and Lachowicz added, "We didn't start off together, but when we did form a line, we clicked really quickly, we all scored points and developed an understanding that would be great to continue for the Phoenix, but that's Tony's call."

Speaking about his double signing Tony Hand noted, "I was determined to bring new blood to the team and the league, and all these guys have some good experience. They're all young, keen to learn and succeed, and to man they've all said they want to part of a winning team. Their enthusiasm is infectious and I am very pleased to have this part of the recruiting process more or less finalised. We've signed what I believe is twelve of the best young players in the country right now and if they match work ethic to their energy and enthusiasm, I believe we'll see some great hockey from them."

Hand added, "My focus is now switching to the recruiting of the non-British trained players and only being allowed four under the league rules, I'll take my time as it's vital we get the right guys. I'm in negotiations with a couple of guys and we're hoping that at least one of those guys will give us a positive answer fairly soon."

Player Profiles

James Neil

James Neil
(Image: Nottingham Panthers website)

Robert Lachowicz

Robert Lachowicz
(Image: Nottingham Panthers website)


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