Phoenix retain another two for the new season

Friday, 1st July 2016

Tony Hand continues to build his squad for next season by re-signing two stalwarts. Firstly, James Neil returns to the blue line for his 8th season with the club.

Nottingham-born James played his junior hockey in his home town from 2002, icing for the Cougars, Leopards, Lions and the senior side, the Panthers. During this time, he was also a regular in the Great Britain team, icing in the World Junior Championships at under 18 and under 20 levels.

He joined Phoenix in 2009 as a forward on a two-way contract with the Panthers. Since then, he has patrolled the blue line as a defender. James has now played 388 games for Phoenix to add to his 155 in the Elite league with the Panthers.

His array of honours includes two Elite League Challenge Cup winner’s medals, an Elite League Play-off winner’s medal, an English U18 Championship winner’s medal, a Gold and two Silver medals with Great Britain, two English Premier League Championship medals and an EPIHL Play-off winner’s medal.

James commented: “Phoenix is the only team I want to play for. I love the organisation and the fans. Both have been very good to me. It should be a great experience next year, back in Manchester with Phoenix.”

Phoenix are also delighted to announce the return of popular forward Robin Kovar for his 4th season with the club.

The Czech-born forward has had an extensive career, starting in junior hockey with Vsetin, his hometown club. Robin went over to Canada in 2001 for a season with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL and was drafted in round 4 of the NHL by Edmonton Oilers the following year.

He was farmed to the Giants for a second season before splitting the next year between Vsetin and Regina Pats in the WHL. Robin came back home after that and played in the Czech first and second leagues before a season each in Slovakia and the Netherlands. 

Robin joined Phoenix in 2013 from Czech 2nd division team, Slovan Ustecti Lvi and was an instant hit with 36 goals and 42 assists in a championship-winning season for Phoenix. 76 points followed the next year and last season he was the league’s top points scorer with 90 points.

Robin has now dressed in 168 games for Phoenix, scoring 110 goals and 158 assists whilst picking up 226 penalty minutes.

In his career, Robin has won a Czech Extraliga Championship, a Czech U20 Championship and an English Premier Ice Hockey League championship.

Robin commented: “It is great to be back in Manchester and playing in the city. Last year was a difficult time for the club with playing in Deeside and our bad injury situation. I am really looking forward to playing in the new rink and for our great fans.”

Coach Hand said: “These are two good signings for us and they will give us the experience we need at the back and up front. Both know the league well and will do a great job for us.”

Phoenix recently announced exciting plans about their new home and, with this now in the public domain, the Club’s preparation for September is well underway.

Robin Kovar

Robin Kovar
(Image: Richard Amor Allan)

James Neil 2015-16 Away Cup Shirt

James Neil

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