The off-ice report

Wednesday, 20th July 2005

Team Great Britain have taken a bronze medal in Division One of the IIHF In-Line World Championships, defeating Brazil 7-4 in the third-place play-off game, with Andrew Sillitoe bagging two goals and two assists. Great Britain had been narrowly defeated 4-5 by Japan who went on to play Hungary in the final.

This week's big news in the Elite League comes in the form of a change at the very top for the Sheffield Steelers, with owner Norton Lea selling the club to Bob Phillips, owner of the Wales National Ice Rink.  Phillips and the shareholders of Arena Sports Limited have bought a 100% stake in South Yorkshire Franchise Ltd, the parent company of the Steelers, in a deal announced earlier this week.  Speaking about the deal, Bob Phillips made the following statement:

"I am grateful to Norton Lea for allowing us the opportunity of taking the Steelers forward, I believe that within its ranks there are people who have been waiting for the opportunity of pushing this club forward, driving its name awareness in the city, attracting new fans and sponsors and generally making this great hockey club proud once again"

"David Simms and I will be calling on the experience of those club officials, and all of the Steelers family members that I have been told about, we will ask you to go out out in to the Streets and Towns and preach the Sheffield Steelers gospel. In turn with our experience in running a successful ice hockey club I will try my utmost to ensure that the Steelers are well run and organised, that their links with the local community grow stronger and stronger."

Also in Sheffield, the Steelers have secured the signature of veteran Ron Shudra.  Coach Paul Heavey is full of praise for the defenceman, saying "No one is more pleased than I that Ron has recovered from his operations and is able to sign once again for the Steelers. He showed me last year that he was as committed as they come by playing through terrific pain when the team needed him."

Last week's news is this week's history in Cardiff, with the announcement of the signing of former netminder Derek Herlofsky being followed with news that Herlofsky has decided to take a coaching position in North America. The gap between the Cardiff pipes has been filled quickly by Coach Ed Patterson with the signing of former AHL and ECHL netminder Peter Aubry, who at 6'3" and 200lbs is expected to "have a huge impact" on the team.

Cardiff have also bolstered their blue-line with the return of defenceman Jeff Burgoyne, who will take to the ice for his fourth season in Devils colours.  Also returning to the Welsh team is forward and fan favourite Vezio Sacratini, who will be starting his eighth season with the team.

British netminder Dan Green has found a new home for himself with the Basingstoke Bison, replacing the departed Dean Skinns.  Bison Coach Mark Bernard, a former netminder himself, is pleased with the signing, saying "Dan is a young goalie that is very eager to learn and he was very keen on doing this at the Elite league level. He has a fantastic attitude which is what I love about him, he knows the situation and is very eager on using the training sessions to improve his overall game."

Bari McKenzie joins the Bison on a two-way deal with Milton Keynes Lightning, apparently replacing Greg Wood, who's signature has been announced by the Sheffield Scimitars.

After spending a season with BNL winners Bracknell Bees, Lee Richardson has put pen to paper to return to Coventry and play for the Blaze, a team with whom he spent two seasons before his move south.  Blaze coach Paul Thompson looks forward to seeing Richardson back in a Coventry jersey, saying "I have always thought that Lee has a great hockey brain. He is a quick thinker and
sees the ice really well. When he was with us he came straight from juniors and proved to be a quick learner. Now he has added some more experience and got a bit bigger I expect him to be able to play a bigger role, and it's great to have him back."

London Racers will be without the services of netminder Joe Watkins this coming season, after his signing was announced by Guildford Flames.  London recently signed netminder Ladislav Kudrna, who impressed all with his displays in the Nottingham net towards the end of last season when he stepped in to cover for the injured Curtis Cruickshank.

Racers have added to their British contingent with the signing of Paul Berrington from the Dundee Stars, a player whom Coach Dennis Maxwell thinks will fit right in with the London team.  ""I've said it before, we want players that are going to show up every night and play hard," says Maxwell. "Berrington is definitely one of those guys who doesn't take nights off."

Rob Trumbley won't be taking to the ice for the Newcastle Vipers this coming season, after the club took the unusual step of announcing that the former captain wasn't being offered a new contract.

The Vipers have secured the services of former Edinburgh Capitals defenceman Jan Krajicek, a blue-liner with strong offensive capabilities. Vipers Coach Rob Wilson is happy with the signing, saying "Jan is a superb signing for the organisation, there has been a lot of clubs interested in his signature over the past three years and he has been sought after by some of our Elite League rivals this summer. This addition to the team will add extra size to our defensive line-up and bring some important offensive presence from the
back. He's a guy we have paid a lot of attention to during the past, he certainly and impact player who can make things happen, I am more than happy that he is playing for the Vipers now rather than against us."

Edinburgh have reportedly signed defenceman Jeff Marshall from Dundee Stars, although neither club has confirmed the transfer as of yet.

Nottingham Panthers have signed three familiar faces this week, with the re-signing of netminder Curtis Cruickshank and forward Paul Moran, and the return of defenceman Jeff Sebastian.  Sebastian, who iced for the Manchester Phoenix in the Elite League inaugural season, played last year for EV Duisburg Die Fuchse in Germany, and returns for a second spell with the Nottingham team having played there under Coach Mike Blaisdell in the 1997-1998 season.

Blaisdell is pleased to have secured Cruickshank and Sebastian for the forthcoming season, saying "Curtis posted great numbers in a difficult season last year and he wants to go to the next level now and prove a point to a few people, that's fine by me. He is a great addition to the defence, as is the return of Jeff. With Dion Darling, Calle Carlsson and now Jeff Sebastian we have a bit of everything at the back, guys who know what it takes to win and a set of guys who all have a wealth of experience. It is shaping up very well!"

Speaking about Paul Moran, Coach Blasidell is happy to see him sign on for another season with the Panthers. "I've known and watched Paul for a long time, it is hard to think he is still only 22," says Blaisdell. "He has been and will continue to be an asset to the team and I am delighted he has agreed to stay with the club."

by Richard Allan