Phoenix double Finnish swoop

Friday, 14th November 2003

A week of intensive and non-stop work has paid off for the Manchester Phoenix as they can reveal Finnish forward Mika Skyttä and fellow countryman Mikko Niemi as the new arrivals on the roster.

Mika Skyttä (pronounced Scooter) is a 30-year old right shot left-winger and has enjoyed playing seven full seasons in Finland’s’ elite SM:liiga with SaiPa Lappeenranta. This season he joined HPK Hameenlinna and the Phoenix are delighted that an agreement was reached to bring him to Manchester.

Thirty-one year old defenceman Mikko Niemi arrives in Manchester having started the season in the capital icing for the London Racers. Niemi left the struggling London club and moved to Germany to play in Munich but is delighted to return to the UK and the Elite League.

Phoenix head coach Rick Brebant noted, “These two signings are the culmination of an intense week of work. We’ve made dozens of ‘phone calls, spoken to I don’t know how many agents and struck out on guys because we haven’t got a work permit available to us. However, in Mika we are signing a player with great experience of one of Europe’s top leagues and who will bring a good solid work ethic to our team. He’s been described as ‘good in the corners and something of a pest to the other team,’ which I don’t mind at all.”

On his other signing Brebant added, “Mikko was with London and probably didn’t play as well as he can given the situation there. We talked to his agent and have offered Mikko a contract on a trial basis. He could have stayed in Germany, but was keen to come back to the UK and prove himself in the Elite League. Getting two guys in for this weekend was imperative to us, especially with George Awada having to go home for a family funeral. Both Mika and Mikko will debut in Basingstoke and I’m confident that with the momentum we’ve built over the past few games, we can keep our steady progress on track.”

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