The off-ice report

Wednesday, 13th July 2005
The Great Britain in-line team have fought their way through to the promotion play-off round of the IIHF In-Line World Championships in Finland, following a nail-biting penalty shoot-out win over Hungary on Tuesday.  Netminder Dan Wood proved to be the hero of the hour, stopping four shots in the shoot-out which came after the game had ended in an 8-8 draw.  Great Britain had held an 8-4 lead early in the third period, but a gight-back from Hungary saw the game levelled at eight apiece at the end of regulation time, and a goal-less overtime period meant that the game had to be decided with the shoot-out.  Simon Hehir found the net for the only goal of the shoot-out, handing victory to the Great Britain team.
Great Britain had defeated Australia 5-3 in the preliminary round on Monday, with ex-Phoenix blue liner Mark Thomas picking up the GB Man Of The Match award having notched up two goals and two assists in the game.  In the first game of the tournament, Great Britain had delivered an 11-1 thumping to Portugal.  Following the win over Hungary, Great Britain now face Slovenia in the Play-Off round, where the winner will complete the tournament in the Elite group and the loser completing the event in Division One.
GB Coach Mark Cavallin is looking forward to the challenge. "Slovenia are a good team but anything is possible," he says. "They are an elite division nation for a reason but it will be a valuable experience for our side and help our development."
On the ice side of business, Cardiff Devils have had a busy week with the re-signings of Jonathan Phillips and Phil Hill, and the return to the club of netminder Derek Herlofsky.  Phillips will be returning to the ice having spent much of last season sidelined with a broken leg, and will be rejoining the growing British contingent at the Welsh club, a contingent that was boosted last week with the signing of Mark Richardson.
Devils Coach Ed Patterson is looking forward to seeing Phillips return to the ice.  "Jonathan is one of the best Brits our there," says Patterson, "and he deserves the chance to play on a big line and show the league what he is capable of.  He is a definite leader on our team."
Patterson is equally enthusiatic about Hill, saying that "Phil showed improvement in the last two years in his skill levels and hockey sense.  I think this year is his year to show a lot more production and be noticed for his presence."
Derek Herlofsky returns for a second spell at the club, having served for the Devils between 1997 and 2001.  Replacing the recently departed Jason Cugnet, Herlofsky will be bringing his speed and agility to the team in their quest for silverware in 2005-2006.
Coventry Blaze have poached netminder Martin Klempa away from Elite League rivals Belfast Giants.  The Solvakian international has eleven caps for his country, and has experience of the Russian Elite League.  Blaze Coach Paul Thompson rates his new acquisition highly, saying "Martin is a very good goalie indeed.  He is very technical, very agile and like most European netminders had good lateral movement.  His positioning is excellent and he wears a right glove, which is unusual and can cause opposition teams some difficulty."   Klempa will replace the departing Jody Lehman between the Coventry pipes.
Newcastle Vipers have bolstered their ranks with the signing of Slovakian centreman Matus Petricko, who played last season for the Bracknell Bees in the BNL. Vipers Coach Rob WIlson became aware of Petricko's worth during the games between the Vipers and the Bees last season.  "The overriding factor that sold Matus to me was the numerous problems he caused us last season," says Wilson.  "Bracknell had one hell of a team last year and the offensive line of Petricko and [Peter] Campbell were doing a lot of damage to the rest of the teams in the league."
The Vipers have also strengthened their defence with the acquisition of Pavel Gomenyuk, who iced previously for Hull Stingrays.  Vipers Coach Rob Wilson is pleased with the signing, having kept tabs on the Ukranian. "After speaking to coaches and players from throughout the UK," begins Wilson, "it becomes apparent that I am not the only person that thinks Pavel has been Hull's 'stand-out' player during the past two seasons.  He comes to the Vipers with a very good pedigree of North American grit and European finesse."
Basingstoke Bison will be without the services of Steve Gallace this season, with the defenceman having signed for Italian club HC Meran Eagles.
Edinburgh Capitals have signed defenceman Neil McCann from German club SC Riessersee.  The Calgary, Alberta native spent four years with Princeton University Tigers before his move to Germany.
Sheffield Steelers have secured the services of ex-Cardiff Devils forward Warren Tait, who signs with the Steelers after seasons in Cardiff and London.  Steelers Coach Paul Heavey profeses "I have always liked Warren, he is gritty, skates well and is good on face offs.  He will most probably be the third line centre so we need a guy who can win draws and look after his defensive duties, Warren fits the bill very well on all accounts."
by Richard Allan