Update coming soon…

Posted August 8, 2010 by Dave Lambert
Categories: Preview

Hi all, apologies for the fairly lengthy absence, things have been a bit hectic. First being on holiday then starting a new job have cut right down on my free time, but I’ll get a proper update up for you as soon as possible, and normal service will resume when the season starts!

Rosters close to completion…

Posted July 14, 2010 by Dave Lambert
Categories: Analysis

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THERE has been quite a few signings since my last update a couple of weeks ago, and a few of them have been pretty big news.

The most active team has been Telford, who have released no less than five new signings. They announced young trio Luke Brittle, Daniel Scott and Declan Ryan, import Tomas Janak and defenceman Daniel Croft. Brittle has a huge amount of talent and is coming off a very productive season in the ENL. At only 17 he’s one of the best prospects in the UK. Scott is also a very good prospect. He’s described as a mobile defenceman and was GB U-18 captain recently. Last of the youngsters is Declan Ryan, who is a very promising netminder, and should be backup to Martin Clarkson this season. With all these youngsters the Tigers should have a very energetic and exciting team, though I think they’ll need

Mark Lee re-signs for Guildford - Photo: David Steadman

a couple more experienced players to help the kids out. Slovakian Janak is also a great addition. He’s cheap because he lives locally, and is very versatile as well as being an effective player. Their final signing is experienced defenceman Daniel Croft, and while not enormously talented he will add a physical presence and a bit of leadership for the younger players.

One of the biggest bits of news recently has been Robert Farmer being drafted by Ottawa 67’s of the OHL. Obviously he had already signed for Manchester Phoenix, but they agreed to release him from his contract if he was successful in finding a team abroad. It’s a huge blow for the Phoenix, as I think Farmer would’ve been right up there in the British point-scoring charts this season. Having said that, what a great achievement for Farmer! He now has the opportunity to play with and against some of the best prospects in the world, and that will help his game no end.

Pavel Gomenyuk switches from Sheffield to Manchester (Photo: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_wOLadxVi1Vc/ShsQeYzFWVI/AAAAAAAAAoQ/5aXe4Q2_rEo/s320/goemn.jpg)

I think Manchester had been waiting to see what Farmer was doing before deciding on imports, and so in the last week they have released their first import signing – defenceman Pavel Gomenyuk. He had already been announced as signing for Sheffield Scimitars, but there has been numerous reports (though little in the way of definite facts at the moment) about the dire financial state of the Scims. Because of this it seems that the Ukranian jumped ship. I think he will be a solid addition for Manchester, depending on their other imports. It’s a big loss for Sheffield though, and I hope they are able to get past their difficulties and compete this season.

After Telford, the next most active team recently has been Guildford. The Flames have re-signed three of last year’s team, Mark Lee, Neil Liddiard and Rob Lamey. I’m still a little confused as to why Lee has returned to the Flames when he will be behind import nettie Hala in the pecking order. He is a fantastic goalie, the best British netminder in the EPL in my opinion. However it has been mentioned that he will be coming off a fairly serious surgery, so I guess it could be a good way for him to ease back into action. Liddiard and Lamey are both solid British players, and will be important to Guildford once again this season.

Another big signing this week has been the return of Gary Clarke to Milton Keynes after a year at Guildford. It has been speculated by some that Clarke may undermine the ‘team-first’ ethic used by the Lightning to great effect last season,

Rob Lamey returns to the Flames - Photo: David Steadman

but I don’t think that will be too much of a problem. Last season MK won most games on the strength of their defence, while goals were harder to come by for them. If Clarke can regain his scoring touch he will provide those extra goals, and their defence looks to be just as strong this year.

Swindon’s solitary signing recently is Steve Fisher, who signs after an excellent season in the ENL with Cardiff. He also made a couple of appearances for Basingstoke in the EPL last season, and grabbed a couple of goals. Fisher isn’t the best skater, but he is an excellent goalscorer and will help fill the void left by Arron Nell.

Basingstoke and Slough have also made one signing each. Bison have signed defenceman Carl Graham, who spent the majority of last season with Bracknell. He is a solid stay-at-home guy, nothing flashy but will do a job for the Herd. Similarly I think Thompson will do a good job for Slough. He is a good two-way forward, and will form a very effective third line with Bowman and Spearing.

That’s it for this time, but I’ll have all the latest signing news as teams finalise their squads, so keep reading!

Things have slowed down a bit…

Posted June 29, 2010 by Dave Lambert
Categories: Analysis

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

SINCE my last update there hasn’t been a huge amount of activity. There have been just nine signings by EPL teams as most are well on the way to finishing off their rosters, as well as a few interesting signings made by ENL teams that I’ll take a quick look at. The busiest team recently though has been Peterborough.

The Phantoms have announced the signings of four forwards, two Brits and two imports. Warren Tait has re-signed for them, and he is a really good team player. He’s gritty and gets stuck in, and at EPL level he chips in with a good number of points too. The other Brit is James Ferrara, who is still only young but has a lot of experience in the EPL and Elite

Maris Ziedins protects the puck - Photo: David Steadman

League. He rejoined Peterborough part way through last season from Nottingham Panthers and showed a lot of skill, grabbing 31 points in 39 games in the process.

Of the imports, Maris Ziedins returns to the club for another season. This will be the Latvian’s fourth season with the club, and it’s another good signing for Peterborough. Ziedins reads the game really well and has a great shot. The other import is Jeff Glowa, who signs from Hull Stingrays. Glowa isn’t flashy but is a really good solid player. He wins face-offs, battles in the corners and puts up points. Hull fans all love him and that’s usually a good indication of a player’s quality. He’ll do a great job for the Phantoms this season.

Guildford are another team to re-sign an import this week, as they brought Lukas Smital back for a fourth season. Some fans are questioning if Smital is still good enough to lead the Flames, but while he is slowing down a bit I think he definitely still has a quality season or two left in him, and last season was actually his best points-wise with Guildford. As one of their import slots has been taken up by a netminder this season he’ll have to help pick up the slack and perform consistently throughout the season.

Telford have also added an import this week, Andrej Maslovskis, a Latvian who played in Estonia last season. It’s hard to predict how he’ll do in the EPL, but I hope he does well. Telford have the makings of a really solid squad and I really want them to have a good season…something to do with the fact that they had to drop out for a year and are now owned by the fans I guess, but I’ve got a soft spot for them.

The Tigers still have a lot of players to announce, unlike Bracknell who all but completed their squad this week with the re-signing of netminder Carl Ambler. A couple of seasons ago Ambler did a fantastic job for Romford, and he was great

Ambler returns for a second season at Bracknell - Photo: Chris Callaghan

for Bracknell last season behind a poor team. I think he may be required to perform just as well to keep them in some games this season, but he’s more than capable of stealing games on his day.

Bracknell’s local rivals Basingstoke have also announced a signing this week, British forward Andy Hemmings. At 21 he’s only young and is improving with every season (he doubled his point total last year from the previous season). He also contributes on special teams, and if he can continue his development this season he’ll be a very valuable player for the Bison.

The final EPL signing for now is Scott Spearing, who signs for Slough again after spending a year at Basingstoke. His season was cut short by a bad injury last year, but he’ll be a really good signing for the Jets if he can stay fit this year. He’s a big guy and plays with an edge, and is excellent in a third line role, while chipping in with a good few points too.

A few guys from the EPL last year have dropped down to the ENL for the coming season too. Oxford City Stars have signed Wayne Fiddes and Gareth Endicott from Swindon Wildcats, and Romford have re-signed Frankie Harvey and

Lukas Smital returns to Guildford - Photo: David Steadman

brought in Julian Smith from Peterborough. I don’t know much about the Oxford pair, but I’m very excited about Romford’s signings. Harvey has so much potential, and could easily play EPL this season. I know some people are annoyed that he’s dropped down after such a great season, but I think that getting loads of ice time will be better for him than being on an EPL team’s third line and getting a few minutes per game. Smith is a player that I really liked at Peterborough, and I think he would be very capable of occupying an EPL spot still, so I think he’ll be a great player for Romford.

Look out for the next update in around a week!

New imports inbound…

Posted June 17, 2010 by Dave Lambert
Categories: Analysis

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THERE has been a smattering of new signings since my last post, the most exciting of which have to be the new imports. It’s always exciting to see new players come into the country, as you just don’t know what to expect from them. It can go either way. Last season Bracknell brought Pinc and Cesky to the UK for the first time and they lit up the league. In stark contrast Romford signed a player called Kamil Vavra, who was gassed after just a few disappointing games.

Despite this uncertainty both Basingstoke and Swindon have added new imports. Basingstoke’s new import is Viktor Kubenko, a big Slovak forward. Again it’s hard to predict, but his stats in the Slovakian League are pretty good and he has ECHL experience. Steve Moria unearthed a Slovakian gem in Ondrej Lauko last season so it’ll be interesting to see

Dwayne Newman returns to Peterborough - Photo: David Steadman

if he has managed it again. Mindy Kieras has also re-signed for the Bison. The import defenceman had a great first season at Basingstoke last year, and adds more than just defence with his bomb of a slapshot! A really good re-signing, and one that completes their import lineup.

The Wildcats made the biggest splash though, adding two new foreigners, Toivo Suursoo and Jozef Liska. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Suursoo in particular, and understandably so. He may be getting on a bit at 34 but he has played in some top quality leagues, including the AHL, and I think he’ll be a standout player in the EPL. Liska looks like a decent player, and is described as ‘gritty and hard-nosed’ in the Wildcats PR, but I don’t know enough about him to hazard a guess as to how he’ll do in the EPL. Swindon have also signed former player Jamie Hayes from the Elite League Cardiff Devils. He is only young and still developing, and will benefit from the step down.

Another player to step down from the Elite League for the coming season is Ben Campbell, who joins Guildford from Newcastle Vipers. Campbell is a quick skater and a hard worker, and had a really good season with the Vipers last year, with 29 points in 56 games. It’s a good signing for the Flames, and Campbell should help liven up their roster

Plant signs on for a 12th season in Guildford - Photo: David Steadman

along with the other new signings. Campbell is joined at Guildford by the returning Rick Plant. This will be his 12th season as a Flame and he is still a very effective British forward.

An import that returns to the EPL for a fourth season with Peterborough Phantoms is Dwayne Newman. He is class personified, and even at age 39 he is still a very clever and effective defenceman.

Telford have continued their good start to recruiting by announcing two more good British forwards. Scott McKenzie joins after spending last season in the Elite League with Edinburgh Capitals, and that is a fantastic signing. I got to see a lot of Scotty when he was at Romford the season before last, and he will be a real impact player again in the EPL. He is joined by Telford legend Daniel Mackriel, who signs on after a year away from the sport. Mackriel is a good winger and is another solid signing for the Tigers.

Meanwhile Slough have re-signed two key components from their Playoff winning side in defencemen Adam Greener and Andy Munroe. I was really impressed when I saw Greener last season, more so than I expected. He was more mobile and better at moving the puck than I remembered, while he also adds a lot of toughness to the team. I also think Munroe is a deceptively good player. He’s very slight and really doesn’t look like a hockey player, but he’s a

Munroe as always in the perfect position - Photo: Chris Callaghan

brilliant defenceman, never out of position and very effective with his stick. Slough’s team is shaping up nicely now and it looks like they’ll contend again next season.

Bracknell have also nearly completed their team with the signings of forwards Alex Barker and Ben Duggan from Bracknell Hornets. I haven’t seen either play, so I don’t know what kind of impact they’ll have at EPL level. I’m not quite sure what to make of Bracknell’s new look team. I think they’ll do better than last season, and Cox will get them playing well together…but there are a lot of last year’s Hornets side in there. They might find it a little tough going against the better teams but the team-spirit and work-ethic will be there.

The final signing for this update is Lewis Bell for the Sheffield Scimitars. Bell is a player that was brought up through the Sheffield system last season and improved steadily, and the young defenceman will look to continue that development this season.

That’s it for EPL signings this week, but I will briefly mention Romford’s start to their signings. Tyrone Miller has signed, and that’s a really good signing for the ENL, Ty is more than capable of being a solid defenceman in the EPL so he should be good in the ENL. Jason Buckman and JJ McGrath both re-signed as well, and they both really impressed me last season so again I think they’re good signings. Their final signing is Anthony Leone from Invicta, and he’s a player I don’t know too much about. He has been described as quick and hard-hitting, and if he lives up to that he’ll be popular in Romford.

That’s it for news in this update, but keep an eye out for the next update where I’ll look at all the new signing news. Some teams are close to finalising their squads, but others still have a good few players to announce. You can see all of the rosters on the newly updated roster pages, while the more observant among you will notice that I’ve added a small ENL section and finally got round to updating the banner at the top of the page.

Not quite according to plan…

Posted June 7, 2010 by Dave Lambert
Categories: Analysis

Tags: , , , , , , ,

WELL, I said that I’d get this update quicker than the last one, but I’m pretty sure this one has taken me just as long! As a result I’m left with just as many signings to go through, so let’s get started.

Basingstoke have added four names for next season, three returnees and a new face. The new player is Callum Best, a youngster who did a solid enough job for Bracknell last season. The re-signing players are all a bit more spectacular though. Chris Wiggins returns, and he was one of the surprise packages in the EPL last season. Wiggins is huge, and his sheer size makes him a force on the ice, but he also has surprisingly good hands and is developing a scoring touch.

Wiggins goes for the big hit - Photo: Chris Callaghan

Joining him is Ondrej Lauko and Ollie Bronnimann. Lauko was the best goalscorer in the league last season by far, finishing with 63 goals in 56 games. I spoke to him earlier in the summer, and loves Basingstoke and the fans, and he always sounded like he wanted to come back. Bronnimann is also a very talented player, but he’s inconsistent and has a tendency to float through games. Despite this he’s still a good second line forward.

Slough are another team to announce the return of a couple of members from last year’s team. Paddy Ward returns, and that’s a big signing. Ward is a very accomplished British defenceman, and he was a big reason that Slough’s goals against was the second best in the EPL last season. Also returning is Michael Bowman. He’s not a flashy player but he works hard and he’s an important part of the Jets.

One player who won’t be returning to Slough is Peter Jasik. The Slovakian forward has moved back to Bracknell for the coming season. He can be a real impact player but has struggled a lot with injuries. If he can stay fit he could be a great signing for the Bees. With Cesky and Pinc on the top line, I guess Jasik will be playing on the second line, so his effectiveness could also depends on who he will he playing with. The Bees have also re-signed last season’s top British scorer, Nicky Watt. He developed good chemistry with Cesky and Pinc, and will be an important player for them again next season. Watt is joined by Shane Moore. He’s a solid young stay-at-home defenceman and is another good addition for Bracknell. They look to be building a hard-working team with a few standout players, and I think they will be a better team than last season.

One of the more interesting signings so far to me is that of Martin Clarkson by Telford. As he’s coming back from the States he is pretty much completely unknown. I think I remember reading that he would be the Tigers’ starting nettie,

Back to Bracknell: Peter Jasik - Photo: David Steadman

so it is a bit of a risk, especially with him being so young. I remember him being very highly rated though, so it could turn out to be a masterstroke.

The signing of Clarkson obviously meant that Barry Hollyhead would not be returning to Telford as was rumoured. It has since been announced that Hollyhead has re-signed with Champions Milton Keynes, along with fellow netminder Alex Mettam, as well as forwards Monir Kalgoum and Grant McPherson. Hollyhead was rock solid last season, and will be behind an equally impressive defence again next season, so you’d expect him to have another great year. Similarly Mettam is a very capable backup who performed very well when called upon last year. Kalgoum is also a great re-signing. He finished with over 100 points last season, and is perhaps the strongest player in the league on the puck and along the boards. MK’s final re-signing McPherson is a player that a lot of players and fans from other teams hate. He can be nasty and gets right in the face of the opposition, but the role that he plays is absolutely vital to his team. MK’s team so far is identical to last season’s, which obviously isn’t a bad thing, but I’ll be interested to see what (if any) tweaks they make with their last few roster spots.

A team to make two new import signings this week is Sheffield Scimitars. The first is defenceman Pavel Gomenyuk from Elite side Hull Stingrays. I think this is a really shrewd signing for the Scims. It is apparent that their team is being put together on a tiny budget, so it will probably contain a lot of youngsters again, and Gomenyuk could prove to be the senior, steadying influence they need at the back to guide the youngsters and hold the defence together. The second signing is Matej Kangyar. The young Slovakian represents the ultimate in unknown quantities, as he was scouted and picked up from Rec hockey. I highly doubt he’ll be a big impact player, but I will watch with interest to see how he

Duncombe in action for Sheffield - Photo: Chris Callaghan

manages the huge jump to the EPL.

A player that won’t be returning for the Scimitars is Steve Duncombe, who has signed for Peterborough. Apparently Sheffield just couldn’t afford to keep him on their budget, and their loss is definitely Peterborough’s gain. Duncombe is very solid and will tighten up the Phantoms defence. They have also re-signed young forward James Spurr, who is a very underrated player in my opinion. He has a lot of skill and works hard, and slots into whichever role or line he is needed on with minimum fuss.

Just a few signings to go now, and Manchester have re-signed a couple of important players for the coming season in Stephen Wallace and James Neil. Wallace joined them during last season from Sheffield and made a big impact. He has always had excellent skills with the puck, but was often criticised as being lazy while with the Scimitars. However, once at Manchester he worked as hard as any player on the ice and was a very effective player for them. James Neil is another hardworking, gritty player who showed versatility last season

Rempel returns for Guildford - Photo: David Steadman

when asked to fill in on defence. His enthusiasm on the ice is infectious, and he will do a good job on Manchester’s third line this season.

The final EPL signing for this update is Nathan Rempel, who returns to Guildford for a second season. Rempel improved as the season went on last year, and can be one of the best snipers in the league. If, as has been mooted by some fans, he is on a line with Longstaff and Towe next season, I think that line will do some serious damage.

In a quick look at the ENL, Romford are still yet to announce any players, but I think Danny Marshall will put a good team together. He’ll have to if the Raiders are to compete with the top teams. Invicta have made a cracking signing in Callum Fowler, and he’ll make a big impact if he can regain a bit of confidence after his injury last season. Chelmsford look very strong as well, as they have retained their best players from last season (Novak, Connolly, Hammond etc.) while adding quality players like Matt Turner and Tom Long.

That’s it for now. I really will try to get the next update out sooner, and I’ll get the team pages updated in the next couple of days. I guess I should alter the banner at some point too, replacing the Romford logo with Telford’s…how awkward!

A lot to get through…

Posted May 23, 2010 by Dave Lambert
Categories: Analysis

Tags: , , , ,

IT’S been about two weeks since my last update, and there has been slow but steady signing announcements filtering through in that time, so I’ll run through them for you now.

Peterborough started their recruiting with a massive signing in James Hutchinson. He was a big part of their treble-winning side a couple of seasons ago and is now returning from Elite League side Hull Stingrays. I think Hutch was

Returning to the Phantoms is James Hutchinson

Peterborough’s biggest loss last season, and he’ll be the best British offensive defenceman in the EPL next season. The Phantoms have also announced the return of netminder Stephen Wall, as well as forwards Tom Carlon and Joe Miller. Wall is really consistent, and Miller is the best British goal-scorer in the EPL (after the departure of Adam Walker and Aaron Nell to the Elite League). I’m surprised that Carlon didn’t return to Telford this season, but he’s a good solid forward.

Guildford continued their impressive start to recruiting by re-signing Jez Lundin and adding Matt Towe. Lundin can be dirty at times, but he’s a great young British defenceman, while Towe should be a great addition. The last time he was in the EPL he put up over a point-per-game with the Sheffield Scimitars, and since then he has registered 64 points in the Elite League over three seasons with the Cardiff Devils.

Manchester have also added a couple more players to their roster, which is looking very strong at this early stage. They have signed Ben Morgan, and he’s a huge signing. The British dman proved over several seasons with the Sheffield Scimitars that he can be one of the best defencemen in the EPL, capable of putting up good numbers while being solid in his own end. They also re-signed last year’s starting netminder Steve Fone. I was a little disappointed with Fone when I saw him last season, but apparently he was carrying an injury, so I’ll be interested to see how he does when fully fit.

Telford made a really solid start to their recruiting by bringing back speedy import forward Marek Hornak. If he’s partnered with players that can keep up with him he’ll do really well I think. They also exploited player/coach Tom Watkins’ Coventry connections by signing Jack Watkins (Tom’s brother) and Joe Henry. Jack is still only young but he has all the tools to be a really excellent player. I saw him play for Cov a few times and he has great size and really good hands to go with it. Henry is a solid signing and should do well in the EPL. He’s been with the Blaze for a few years, and while he has the skill to be an effective player at Elite level he is a little lacking in the size department, so this may well be his ideal level for now.

Another team to make a couple of big signings is Slough. They finally announced Jan Krajicek as joining, which was the

Steve Fone is back in Manchester - Photo: Chris Callaghan

worst kept secret in hockey, while also announcing the return of Dan Davies. As I said before I think that Krajicek will be really good for Slough if he’s not depended on as much as he was at Swindon. His legs aren’t what they were but he’s still a class act. Davies was really impressive last season and far exceded my expectations and I hope he continues to develop this season.

One player that won’t be returning to the Jets next season is Ciaran Long. The young forward has signed for Basingstoke in a move that surprised me a little. Maybe the Bison were offering more ice-time, I don’t know, but he’ll be a big player for them. He was one of the Jets players that impressed me the most at the playoff weekend. Basingstoke have also signed former Guildford defenceman Rick Skene. He had a lot of injury problems last season and needs to get his career back on track. On his day he can be a very capable and dependable dman, he just needs to do it more often.

Meanwhile, Basingstoke’s local rivals Bracknell have released the name of their third import, Czech defenceman Valdemar Pelikovsky. I really don’t know anything about him or have any idea how well he will do in the EPL, so we can all wait and see on that one. The Bees have also added Sam Waller, a young defenceman who played for Slough last season, and that’s a really good signing. He’s still learning but Waller has a lot of potential, and I think he’ll get far more ice-time with Bracknell than Slough and will have a very good season.

The last few signings to get through are all re-signings. Swindon have brought back gritty forward Matt Foord and defenceman Joe Baird. Neither are spectacular players but they are solid role players who do their part for the team.

Matt Foord returns for Swindon - Photo: Chris Callaghan

The final team to talk about it Sheffield, and they have re-signed skillful forward Tom Squires, who I think could well break out offensively this season. Unfortunately for the Scims this could mean he will be departing before too long, but at least they have him this season! They’ve also signed Lee Haywood, a solid British defenceman, and added young netminder Dimitri Zimozda. Don’t let the name fool you, he’s British, and this will be his first crack at the EPL after coming through the Sheffield ENL side.

If you’ve got this far, well done! There’s been a lot to get through and I’ll try and get more regular news out for the remainder of the summer. I’ll finish by saying a couple of words about my Romford Raiders, as they were accepted into ENL South Division One today. It’s a shame to no longer be in the EPL, but at least I still have my club to support. This blog will remain to be primarily about the EPL, but I’ll be slipping some ENL stuff in there too from now on!

Bad timing…

Posted May 8, 2010 by Dave Lambert
Categories: Analysis

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

IT seems that my last post was not timed particularly well. Not long after posting, a spate of new signings were announced, and some pretty big ones at that! Two of the teams to make a big splash are Slough and Guildford.

Slough look to be serious contenders next season. The Jets re-signed Slava Koulikov, which was an important signing. Koulikov joined Slough halfway through last season from Elite League side Hull, with the reputation if being lazy. Peter Russell seemed to stamp that out of him though, and he was a big part of the secondary-scoring on their playoff

Slava Koulikov fights through traffic - Photo: David Steadman

winning side. On top of this re-signing, they announced the addition of two new imports – Doug Sheppard and Darius Pliskauskas. The two forwards will replace Peter Poljacek and Peter Jasik, and I think they represent an upgrade. Sheppard joins after putting up 62 points in 66 games last season in the Elite League with Sheffield Steelers, and is a really excellent player. Being a Romford fan I saw Pliskauskas a few times last season, and the guy can fly. His main weapon is his shot. He has a really quick release, and alongside a good passer like Joe Greener and on a good team where he isn’t expected to do everything, he’ll really excel.

“Using one import slot on a netminder is a waste.”

Guildford surprised a lot of people by signing an import netminder, Miroslav Hala. I’m not sure about this move myself. Other teams have tried this in the EPL, and the tactic is a bit hit-and-miss. I didn’t work out well for Swindon when they had Kudrna in goal, but Pasi Raitanen did a great job for Sheffield a few years ago. The general concensus is that when you can only have four imports, using one slot on a netminder is a waste. Having said this, if any team in the EPL can make it work, the Flames can. They will have plenty of

New Manchester recruit Tom Duggan - Photo: David Steadman

firepower with Longstaff, Masa and apparently the additions of Smital, Rempel and Ben Campbell. They also had the third-best goals against in the league last season with an all-British defence. What I don’t understand about the move is the fact that they have (in my opinion) the best British netminder in Mark Lee (if the rumours that he has re-signed are true). We’ll have to wait and see if the move pays off.

“He wasn’t quite the standout defenceman I expected.”

Elsewhere, Kurt Reynolds has re-signed for Basingstoke. I remember thinking last season that Reynolds would be fantastic in the EPL after he had a breakout season in the Elite the year before. He wasn’t quite the standout defenceman I expected last season, but then that’s not his game. He plays a quiet,solid and effective game from what I’ve seen, and at 23 he’s still developing.

“Tony Hand is targetting a certain kind of player.”

Manchester also made a big signing, bringing in Tom Duggan, as I suggested might happen in my last post. It seems that Tony Hand is targetting a certain kind of player for his Phoenix side this season. Farmer, Holland and now Duggan are all young, skilled and gritty. They’re not afraid to get stuck in and want to prove themselves, and I think it will be an effective tactic. It certainly won’t hurt them to have a bit more strength and power in their side.

Sheffield Scimitars added a couple of players in Arran Strawson and import Peter Vaisanen. I don’t know much about Strawson, but Scims fans seem to be happy at his re-signing. Vaisanen joins from ENL Invicta Dynamos, and while he’s untested at EPL level, he showed great all-round ability last season.

The final couple of signings were by Swindon. They announced the addition of Jason Stone from Elite side Cardiff, and forward Ryan Watt from Slough. I was surprised about Stone, I thought he would retire a Devil. At 37 his best days are

Now a Wildcat, Ryan Watt celebrates winning the playoffs with Slough last season - Photo: David Steadman

behind him, and his legs have probably gone a little, but he will still be a strong, steadying influence at the back. Watt is a guy that I gained a lot of respect for at the playoff weekend. If he can keep his temper under control on the ice then he has a lot of skill and can make a big impact.

That’s it for now I think. Look out for a post next week, when there will probably have been another mass of signings for me to wade through!