The off-ice report

Monday, 8th May 2006
Basingstoke Bison have announced the return of team captain Doug Sheppard for the forthcoming season, the final signing made by departing coach Mark Bernard.  Currently playing for Sydney Bears in the Australian league alongside Bison team-mate Ryan O'Keefe, Sheppard is pleased to have signed again for Basingstoke.  "I am very excited about returning to Basingstoke," says Sheppard, and although disappointed that Bernie won't be returning, I have spoken with Mark Johnson of Planet Ice and I am absolutely positive that they will recruit the best person for the job for the upcoming season."
Belfast Giants have confirmed that former Steeler Ed Courtenay will be returning as player-coach for the forthcoming season, much to the delight of General Manager John Elliott. "Securing Ed's contract for the new season was my first priority," said Elliott. "As a rookie Coach last season, Ed delivered the Championship to Belfast and I am delighted he is returning to lead the team next season."
Coventry Blaze have added British netminder Stephen Fone to their roster in the back-up spot, having been impressed by his performances for Solihull Barons last season.  Fone had trained with the Blaze several times last season, and Coventry Head Coach Paul Thompson sees the value of signing the young goalie.  "I am very excited about Stephen joining us," says Thompson.  "He is a fine young prospect and impressed me with his ability when he came to some of our training sessions last season.  I think he will benefit from being with the organisation and we are looking forward to having him on board."
Nottingham Panthers are still searching for a new coach, following the declining of an offer made to Mike Blaisdell. A statement on the Panthers website infers that they have received applications from all across Europe as well as from North America.
Sheffield Steelers are speculating on where former Phoenixer Mark Thomas will be playing next season, rumouring that new Phoenix Coach Tony Hand may have been in contact with the young Brit.  Thomas haas recently returned from the Pool B World Championships where he iced as a part of the Great Britain team.
by Richard Allan