The off-ice report

Monday, 24th July 2006

Sheffield Steelers have been faced with an unexpected shake-up at the top this past week, with the surprise resignation of Head Coach Dave Whistle.  Coach Whistle has stepped down in order to take up a Tier 2 Junior coaching position in Canada, with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.  Sheffield General Manager made the announcement at the end of last week, saying "It was a great disappointment that we learned so late in the summer of Dave's decision to remain in Canada.  We had absolute trust and belief in him and his ability to recruit a team the people of Sheffield could be proud of, that's why Dave was under contract for the next two years."

The club has moved quickly to fill the gap left by the departing Whistle, appointing Dave Matsos as the new Head Coach after a whirlwind recruitment process.  Coach Matsos is ready to step up to the plate and take on the challenge of the role, saying "This is an amazing opportunity for me and one I intend to grasp with both hands.  Coaching has always been my intention which is why I have been a keen player assistant with Belfast and Cardiff.  After my injury last year which saw an end to my playing career I knew instantly that coaching was my next profession."

Former Sheffield Steelers and London Racers enforcer Dennis Maxwell has been signed by Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in the Central Hockey League.

Cardiff Devils have signed Tyson Teplitsky, a Canadian defenceman who iced last season with Florida Everblades in the ECHL.  A former team-mate of Cardiff's new netminder Phil Osaer, Teplitsky will bolster the Cardiff blue-line whilst continuing his academic studies.  Devils Coach Ed Patterson says "Tyson Teplitsky is a great defenceman with offensive capabilities.  In his first year of pro hockey, he got 9 goals and 29 assists and he's committed to coming here for the next 2 seasons, finishing his Masters and playing hockey at the same time which is outstanding for us."

Cardiff have also announced the return of Nathan Rempel, who had returned to Cardiff in the middle of last season following a stint with London Racers.  "The signing of Nathan Rempel is fantastic for us," says Coach Patterson. "He's a goal scorer who scores 25 goals a year and he's got a sweet spot in my heart. He played here two years ago and then went to London but when they folded we got him back and he proved himself to me last year.  I'm very pleased to get him back."

Cardiff will likely be without the services of defenceman Mike Garrow this coming season, with the Canadian reportedly having signed for Aab Ishockey in Denmark.

Newcastle Vipers have filled the gap left by the departing Trevor Koenig with the signing of Canadian netminder Curtis Cruickshank, taking him from Nottingham Panthers.  Vipers Coach Rob Wilson moved quickly to sign Cruickshank when learning of his availability.  "To be honest I was extremely surprised that Curtis was not re-signed in Nottingham," says Coach Wilson.  "Mike Ellis has gone with Evan Lindsay, so I jumped at the chance to sign Curtis.  He came up to Tyneside last week for talks and to look around, and I'm delighted he's agreed to join us for next season."

Hull Stingrays have signed Ukranian forward Sergiy Kharchenko, taking him from Sokol Kiev in Belarus.  Team Owner Mike Pack is happy with the signing, saying "We are pleased to welcome Sergiy to the Stingrays.  He is an experienced, skillful forward and we hope he will prove as useful as our previous Ukranian imports."  Kharchenko joins fellow Ukranians Pavel Gomenyuk and Segiy Rublivsky in Hull for the forthcoming season.

Hull have also announced the signing of Canadian defenceman Kevin Young, taking him from Nijmegen Emperors in Holland.  "Kevin is an exciting addition to the team," says Mike Pack.  "One of the things we were looking for was an offensive defenceman, somebody who can provide good transition for defence to offence, and this guy fits that role."

Coventry Blaze have released forward Marc Lefebvre, with the Canadian's destination unknown at this point.  Also moving on from Coventry is netminder Dan Shea, who has signed for Milton Keynes Lightning, along with former Basingstoke Bison defenceman Shane Moore.

Belfast Giants have announced the return of Curtis Huppe for a third season, much to the delight of Giants Coach Ed Courtenay.  "Despite missing over ten games through injury last season, Curtis scored 33 goals and was beaten to the top goal scorers spot by his new team-mate Mark Dutiame," says Coach Courtenay.  "Huppe's contribution to our points tally went a long way to helping the Belfast Giants winning the Elite League Championship."

The Giants have also announced the signing of Jeff Hutchins, taking him from Coventry Blaze.  Coach Courtenay says "Jeff achieved 21 goals and 46 points for Coventry last season.  He has a superb work ethic and is a fantastic addition to our bench."

Edinburgh Capitals have confirmed the return of British forward Neil Hay, who has been with the club since 2000.  Scott Neil, the Caps GM, is pleased with the confirmation, saying "It is great to have Neil Hay back on board this season.  He is a hard worker who has been developing steadily as his time with the Capitals has gone on both in the SNL and the BNL and now the Elite League."

Also returning to Edinburgh is defenceman Daniel McIntyre, who says "It's great to be able to play for the Capitals for another season.  Last season was a big step for me and I think I did well.  It is good to know that the Capitals want me back again and I aim to improve my game and help move the team on this season."

by Richard Allan