The off-ice report

Monday, 3rd July 2006

Basingstoke Bison have finally ended the speculation about the identity of the new coach with the unveiling of Doug Sheppard in a player/coach role.  Following two seasons as a player with the Bison, Sheppard has stepped up to the Head Coach position whilst keeping his on-ice role.  "I am excited and grateful to be given this opportunity," says Coach Sheppard, "and I look forward to a great year with the Bison in the new season, with the players we have returning so far and the players I am in discussions with right now, it looks to be a very promising season ahead."

Also joining the coaching staff at Basingstoke is Duncan Dalmao, with the defenceman signing on as player/assistant coach.  The former Bison spent last season icing for London Racers and then for Greenville Grrrowl in the ECHL, and is looking forward to a return to Basingstoke. "I'm very happy to be working with the Bison again," says the Canadian blue-liner.  "Things didn't go the way I wanted during my last stay and I hope to come back a much improved player.  I am very happy to be working Doug Sheppard for the first time in this capacity, and to doing much work in the community.  The fans are a great asset to the team, and the new organisation is shaping up great."

Nottingham Panthers have had a busy week of signings, with the re-signing of two British forwards and the new signing of a Canadian defenceman.  Brits James Cooke and Matt Myers have put pen to paper for the Nottingham team, and Corey Neilson joins in a move from the ECHL's Florida Everblades.  Cooke was keen to sign on for the Panthers, saying "This is my home town club and whilst it is flattering to get offers from elsewhere I always wanted to stay at Nottingham. I got a chance to sample the Elite League with the Panthers last year and with Mike Ellis behind the bench and his commitment to the development of British players I hope to build on last year."

Talking of the signing of Matt Myers, Coach Mike Ellis commented "This is yet another key signing for us.  I am pleased that discussions with Matthew have worked out.  He is a great young British forward, he is excellent on the face-offs, and he has the potential to become better and better.  We have a good set-up on the home grown front with British players who already know what it takes to win."

Corey Neilson joins the Panthers blue-line having been a third round draft pick for Edmonton Oilers, and has represented his country on the Team Canada squad.  His signing for the Panthers has excited Coach Ellis, who proclaimed "The roster gets better and better.  The reports I have had on Corey have all been very, very positive.  Obviously he's big and strong, he can look after himself.  He has a great deal of experience, in his last three seasons he has been at the top or near the top of the points scoring for defenceman with 48,62 and 79 points.  He will add a physical presence on the ice, and important leadership both on and off the ice."

Newcastle Vipers have retained some muscle in their squad with the re-signing of former Coventry Blaze forward Andre Payette.  Despite the potential for a return to the Blaze, Payette says the decision to stay on Tyneside was an easy one.  "I had a great time with the Vipers last season," says Payette.  "We had a solid roster, everyone worked for each other, and we played some very good hockey.  At the end of the day we came second in the League and topped it off by winning the Play-Offs."  Payette went on to say "It'll be good starting off in September against Coventry in our pre-season games, though it'll be odd shooting against Trevor Koenig.  I am also looking forward to playing Manchester and Hull in our League.  It'll make for an interesting season, and I just can't wait for it to start."

by Richard Allan