J Davidson sponsored Manchester Phoenix are extremely pleased to announcetheir first signings of the summer.
Forward turned defender James Neil has put pen to paper for his fourth season at the Dome.
The popular player first laced up his boots for Phoenix in 2009-10 on a twoway contract with his home club Nottingham Panthers. That season he iced in 57 games for Phoenix as a third line forward and hit 7 goals and 12 assists. He also dressed for the Panthers in 5 Elite league games. James represented GB in the World Junior U 20 championships and picked up a gold medal. The following year, he signed full time for Phoenix icing in all 57 games, notching 3 goals and 14 assists in the Phoenix championship winning team.
Last season coach Hand asked James if he would play defence for the team. Despite having a few reservations, James took to the task well, becoming an integral part of the Phoenix defensive corps. Once again, James was an ever present, this time on the blue line, scoring 2 goals and 18 assists.
James had this to say about his re-signing: “Tony spoke to me after the play offs and although I had a couple of offers from other clubs, there really was nothing to discuss. I always intended to re-sign if the coach wanted me.”
Coach Hand said: “James did well last season and was very consistent. He moves the puck well and is improving all the time. This could be a breakout season for him. He works hard and is great in the locker room.”
Returning to the Dome for a second season is British forward Ciaran Long.
Despite his tender 21 years, Ciaran is a veteran of over 250 games in the EPL.
He first iced in 2005/06 for Swindon Wildcats whilst skating for theirunder 19 team, the Cougars. He stayed three more seasons in Wiltshire and donned the Wildcats colours for their EPL and ENL sides. 2008/09 was a good year for the youngster as he picked up Gold and Silver medals for the Great Britain under 18 and 20 sides in World Junior Championship competitions.
A move to Slough Jets the following season brought him more success with an EPL play off champions’ medal alongside more gold medal success with the GB under 20 side. Itchy feet again in 2010/2011 saw a move to Basingstoke where he scored 15 goals and 15 assists along with 110 penalty minutes for the Herd.
Tony Hand came calling last year and Ciaran enjoyed a good season with Phoenix, with 19 goals and 12 assists, icing on both the second and third lines. He also turned out in 4 games for the Trafford Metros, Phoenix’s affiliated ENL club, and scored 4 goals and 7 assists along with 20 penalty minutes. Ciaran endeared himself to the Phoenix faithful from the start with his gritty, all action style and he earned many plaudits throughout the season.
Ciaran said:” I had a great time at Manchester last season. The club treat you well and the fans are fantastic. I was delighted when Tony asked me to come back.”
When asked about Ciaran, coach Hand said: “Ciaran is a good young forward who had a good season last time out. He scored some important goals for the club and I am looking for him to step up a gear next year. He shows up every week, works very hard in training and again, a good guy to have in the locker room.”