The off-ice report

Thursday, 8th September 2005
The end of the off-season has seen a handful of new signings and plenty of action on the ice, with plenty of challenge matches and pre-season 'not-so-friendlies' taking place throughout the Elite League. 
Newcastle Vipers, one of two new teams taking part in the EIHL this season, have added Canadian forward Eric Beaudoin to their roster, taking him fom Edmonton Roadrunners in the AHL.  Beaudoin iced for Florida Panthers during the 2003-2004 season, and was a 4th round draft pick of Tampa Bay Lightning in 1998. Vipers Coach Rob Wilson was alerted to Beaudoin through another of Newcastle's new signings, former Coventry enforcer Andre Payette.  "Andre knew we were looking for either a winger or a centreman for the first line, and he put us in contact with Eric," says Coach Wilson. "As an organisation we are delighted we could secure a signing of this calibre and believe he will turn out to be a very important addition to the Mobilx Vipers.  Eric has agreed an open ended contract, he could be here for a week, or a month, or even the rest of the season - at the moment we just don't know.  He is hoping there will be an offer from an NHL club, however if that doesn't materialise we would be more than happy to accommodate him for the full season in Newcastle."
So far it's been an eventful time in Newcastle for the ex-NHLer.  Having flown in from Canda on Saturday, he took to the ice in a challenge match against Coventry Blaze which was won by the Vipers with a single goal from Matus Petricko, but not without a cost to Beaudoin.  "In his first shift he took a knock to the mouth which resulted in him losing a number of teeth," says Coach Wilson.  "However, to his credit he went off, got it seen to and returned for the rest of the game.  Any player that shows that much commitment is defeinitely a player I want on my team!"
Fellow EIHL newcomers Edinburgh Capitals have looked to the US College system for their newest recruit, taking Neil Stevenson-Moore from Princeton University Tigers in the NCAA.  "Stevenson-Moore comes with a good NCAA pedigree," says Caps General Manager Scott Neil, "and he should really be a valuable asset to the Capitals squad this coming season.  His size will stand him in good stead against some of the bigger guys in the Elite League."
Stevenson-Moore took part in Princeton's tour of the UK in 2002, playing against Guildford Flames, Cardiff Devils and Nottingham Panthers, against whom he scored a goal and an assist.
Manchester Phoenix's former captain, George Awada, has been awarded the captaincy of Belfast Giants for the forthcoming season.  Giants Coach Ed Courtenay made the announcement at the Belfast Giants 'meet and greet' session, where he also announced that Shane Johnson and Shawn Skiehar had been awarded the two Assistant Captain positions.
Coach Courtenay has also announced that back-up netminder Chris McGimpsey will be returning for his third season with the Belfast team.  "Netminder McGimpsey has completed two seasons with the Giants," says Coach Courtenay, "and he is rejoining his local team mates Mark Morrison and Graeme Walton.  McGimpsey started between the pipes against Edinburgh last season, completeing an impressive 60 minutes with a triumphant 8-1 scoreline.  He'll continue to develop his game working with Mike Minard and I'm sure Chris will again be called upon at some point."
Defenceman Steve O'Brien will be returning to the UK to play this season with Belfast Giants, having played previously for Coventry Blaze and for AS Mastini Varese Hockey in Italy last season. Coach Courtenay is hoping that the signing of O'Brien will not only add strength to the defence but will also bolster the atacking capacity of the team, saying "He's an offensive defender.  Whilst playing for Coventry two seasons ago, he achieved 48 points and scored 13 goals.  He moves the puck well and is one to watch on the powerplay.  Bringing O'Brien into our defensive line has added the final piece to that part of our game.  I have been looking for a guy with a strong work ethic and I think I've found a great guy in Steve."
Nottingham Panthers have added former Manchester Storm forward Joe Cardarelli to their ranks, signing him from Long Beach Ice Dogs in the ECHL.  Panthers Coach Mike Blaisdell says the decision to sign Cardarelli was a simple one.  "When I was coaching in Sheffield, Joe was always a thorn in our side when playing for Manchester," says Coach Blaisdell.  "He's been in Italy and North America since and has posted some good numbers, especially in the goals column.  He'll do well for us and this is another key signing."
Another new arrival in the City of Lace is Brandin Cote, who signs with Nottingham following three seasons with Norfolk Admirals in the AHL.  Before signing with Norfolk, the forward spent six seasons with Spokane as a junior, and Coach Blaisdell sees his skills as an asset to the Panthers.  "He is a great skater and a competitor," says Coach Blaisdell.  "He's a penalty kill specialist and whilst his numbers in a very tough league haven't been great I think he will do well ove here and I know he is going to fit in.  He finishes his checks and his penalty minutes show that he will look after himself.  The people I've talked to about him speak very highly about his getting stuck in, and working hard at both ends of the ice."
Nottingham's pre-season challenge match against Peterborough gave Coach Blaisdell a chance to see what his squad could do, and they didn't disappoint, notching up a 2-9 road victory.  "I was impressed with the fitness levels, the British players did really well, Dan Tessier gave us what we expected and Dan Welch turned in a fine game too.  Dion Darling was superb.  I saw some good things out on the ice and some of the goals would have been scored no matter who the oppostion was.  We made some mistakes that would have been punished at Elite League level but it is early days and there is a long way to go.  We had a good work ethic and the guys never want to take a shift off so that was good."
London Racers met with Basingstoke Bison in a pre-season challenge match, claiming a 4-2 win in a match which saw ex-Bison Duncan Dalmao notch up three assists against his former club.  Ex-Cardiff Devils forward Nathan Rempel opened the scoring for London, with Paul Berrington extending the lead to two on the powerplay.  Jeremy Cornish took no time at all slotting back into his role with the Racers, dropping the gloves early in the second period with Ryan O'Keefe.  Doug Sheppard netted for the Bison to bring the game back to 2-1, but Cornish found the net to put the London team back in a two-goal lead position. Jim Shepherd found the net for the Bison's second goal, but Mark Gouett posted an empty netter to seal the game for the Racers.
Cardiff Devils and Sheffield Steelers played a double-header weekend as a part of their respective pre-season campaigns, with the Welsh outfit taking the wins in both fixtures.  Saturday night's fixture in Sheffield saw veteran Vezio Sacratini open the scoring within two minutes of the start of the first period.  Mark Richardson extended the lead for the Devils in the second period, with player-coach Ed Patterson making it 3-0 late in the period.  Sheffield got on the board towards the end of the second period through Martin Masa.  Sacratini sealed the game with his second of the night, taking a 4-1 win back to Cardiff.
The return match in Cardiff gave the Devils further chance to shine, despite the Steelers getting on the scoreboard first through Mike Peron.  The score stayed at 1-0 until the third period, when Dave Matsos drew the game level for the Devils before former Steeler Gerad Adams put the home team ahead.  Vezio Sacratini wrapped things up for the Cardiff team with a last-minute goal sealing the win at 3-1.
by Richard Allan