The off-ice report

Monday, 19th June 2006

Newcastle Vipers have added British player Matthew Rich to their squad for the forthcoming season, signing the 18 year old from Edinburgh Capitals.  Newcastle Coach Rob Wilson sees the signing as an investment in the future, saying "This is a very forward-thinking signing for us.  Of course, Matthew will play his part in the coming season but he's also one for the long haul."  Coach Wilson went on to compliment Rich's skills, saying "Matthew's style of play fits in very well with Viper hockey - he has a very high intensity and great work ethic.  He isn't afraid of getting his hands dirty and standing up for team-mates."

Rejoining Newcastle Vipers for another season is David Longstaff, the former Sheffield Steelers and Manchester Storm forward.  A native Tynesider, Longstaff has been with the Vipers for the past three seasons, and last season played a part in the Play-Off winning team in the team's first season back in the top flight of British hockey.  "It was great last season playing in the top flight, with an excellent group of guys on the team," says Longstaff.  "We weren't the most talented squad of players in the League but everyone played for each other, and it made the season enjoyable.  After speaking to Coach Wilson it's obvious he wants to keep that team mentality, so I'm delighted to sign up again."

Basingstoke Bison have taken the unusual step of announcing the signing of a new Head Coach, but keeping the name of the coach under wraps.  The coach is reportedly a former player who has been in the UK before, and is expected to be revealed at a fan event a week on Wednesday.

Edinburgh Capitals have made two signings this week, firstly in the shape of defenceman Peter Janik.  Janik joins the Caps after a spell with HC Aix-en-Provence in France, having previously played for most of his career in the Slovakian Extraliga.  Edinburgh Capitals General Manager Scott Neil is pleased with the signing, saying "Peter Janik has come highly recommended to me by a few players that have iced alongside him over the years and will make a solid addition to our defence for the coming season."

The second signing for the Caps is Toby Kallander, a British born player who has been based in Sweden to develop his hockey skills.  Kallander is being signed as a development player, and a future investment for the club.

Edinburgh Capitals will be without the services of defenceman Fredrik Oduya, who has signed for Nybro Vikings in Sweden.

Belfast Giants have captured the signature of former player Roman Gavalier, who iced for the club previously in the 2004-2005 season.  Roman spent last season in Poland icing for Unia Oswiecim, but has returned to the Elite League for the 2006-2007 seaon.  Belfast Coach Ed Courtenay is very pleased with the signing, saying "Roman is an outstanding defender and everyone will remember his contribution to the Giants the last time he wore the jersey.  He is an excellent skater and passer and will be superb when we have to kill powerplays.  He has a hard-hitting slapshot and is very exciting for the fans to watch.  I know they'll be delighted to have him back."

Belfast have also re-signed GB International Leigh Jamieson, back for a fourth season with the Giants.

Sheffield Steelers have confirmed the signing of former Cardiff Devils forward Phil Hill, where he will be reunited with ex-Devils team-mate Jonathan Phillips.  Sheffield will be without defenceman Jonas Lennartsson, who has reportedly signed for HC Val Pusteria Wolves in Italy.

Nottingham Panthers have confirmed the returns of David Clarke and Paul Moran for the forthcoming season, with Panthers Coach Mike Ellis saying "I'm really excited about both these young guys.  They're both strong guys who go out hard every game and know what it takes to win."

Also announcing returning players this past week are Coventry Blaze, who have confirmed the returns of Neal Martin and ex-Manchester Storm player Barrie Moore.  "Neal is one of the best, if not the best, defenceman in the country and Barrie has one of the best shots I've seen," says Blaze Coach Paul Thompson.  "Both make big contributions and do lots of little things that coaches love but that might go unspotted during the game.  Neal's contribution on defence is a cornerstone of this side.  Barrie gets the goals but is also a very canny player.  He may not seem to be a high energy player but he reads the game very well and breaks up a lot of plays in the neutral zone."

by Richard Allan