|EPL Weekly Roundup week 35 – w/e midnight Sunday15th May 2011 – The Iceman|
|Wednesday, 18 May 2011 13:19|
What a difference a day, er, week makes with lots going on although it has to be said plenty of speculation and hearsay. So although bearing in mind what my old grand-pappy used to advise in such circumstances: You don’t walk across a field in bare feet in the dark unless you can see where you are treading, and leaving out some of the more imaginative rumours we proceed with some, but not too much, caution because after all we all need gossip at this mid-seasons point.
First off, though, on safe ground came the announcement David Savage, who ended last season as an EPL Top Ten D-men placing, has re-signed for the Flames for an eighth season, and yet still only 22 years of age. And I thought it was only policemen who looked so much younger these days! Meanwhile, ex-Flames captain Rob Lamey signed on with the Bees.
The Bees also featured in the news with Greg Randall who after eighteen years, mainly with the Lightning and more recently in Bracknell, signed for the Phantoms. But that’s not all. While few must have been expecting Dangerous Brothers Jaroslav Cesky and Michal Pinc to return to the Bees, the first snippet of information of their whereabouts was that they had signed for an ‘unnamed EPL side.’
All very mysterious and while that ruled out a return to Bracknell it may have come as a bit of a surprise when the Wildcats revealed they had accepted the pair of Czech forwards. Pinc finished the season in the EPL Top Ten Points, Goals and Assists Chart while Cesky had the year previously and was only inches short again last season. And here we come to our first rumour. While Bees’ mercurial British forward Nicky Watt played some of his best hockey with the Czech duo, can the whisper he is returning to Swindon also be true?
Sticking with the Wildcats, who also announced the re-signing of Czech Jan Melichar which took their foreign contingent to three and raised the question about the futures of Slovakian Jozef Liska and Lithuanian Edigijus Bauba. Best that can be said is their prospects must be looking a lot rosier other than in Swindon. And what about Jonas Höög, who in a short-season leapt into the EPL Top Ten Game Average Chart?
While on the subject of Wildcats’ speculation, have you heard the one about Cairan Long returning from the Bison and Sam Bullas leaving for the Tigers? No, then I won’t mention those.
Now for goodness sake let’s get back on firmer ground and mention of the Bison raises the matter of the departure of D-man Rick Skene in favour of the Phantoms while captain Nicky Chinn, who at 38 is still a British Top Ten Points Chart entry, is to captain the side for a second term. Ben Davies, however, the GB Under 18 and Under 20 forward who after a year with the Basingstoke side after several years with Cardiff, has returned to his native Wales.
Enough of this safe ground, let’s have some more mystery. Canadian netminder Greg Blais who last season played for Meudon in France and whose name has been linked to a couple of British clubs has, according to his agent, signed for an ‘unnamed EPL side’. Oo ahh! Hmmm. Another import between the pipes which from the experience of recent years means, apart from say Sheffield’s Pasi Raitanen, a short EPL career then.
Meanwhile, Juraj Senko, the Slovakian D-man who played for Solway Sharks last season is also reported to have been signed by an ‘unnamed EPL side.’ Oh, the suspense!
Now we come to the ‘read between the lines’ section with the enigmatic report from the Steeldogs that Coach Payette has signed an agreement with, oh yes, another unnamed team that will allow his ‘home-grown’ players to train and ice in mid-week games for an Elite League side but which is not the local Steelers. Payette said various arrangements with their neighbours had never really worked satisfactorily, so apart from some extra travelling this looks like a terrific opportunity for some of his lads. And while we are on the magical mystery tour how about the unconfirmed report Tigers’ forward Ashley Calvert is on his way to the Steeldogs?
But let’s not leave the Tigers out because there is another as yet unconfirmed report Thomas Soar, the Nottingham Lions GB Under 18 forward and occasional Phantoms player, is to sign for them.
Lightning? Did someone mention the Lightning? Well, we don’t need to leave them out because there is a report netminder Barry Hollyhead, who ended the season in the Top Ten Netminders Chart, is to sign for the Tigers. And the Tigers, of course, home to Luke Brittle, are so-say about to adopt his brother Stuart from the Steeldogs. Or was the rumour they are both going to Sheffield. Or maybe it was they were both going to Skegness together for their holidays.
Who knows? So lets get into the home straight with some solid stuff and we start with the Lightning again and the news GB Under 20 D-man Tom Norton, who has just played his first full season for Elite League Nottingham after four years with the ENL, has just signed on.
Then there is the Phantoms who signed up veteran Erik Bochna, the Slovakian forward who played some years ago for Swindon and Romford and achieved some decent figures. Also, last years ‘prospect player Connor Pollard signed a 2-way contract with ENL Wightlink to give him more ice time with a view to the Peterborough side having first call on his duties in 2012.
The Phoenix finally got off the mark with their first name to the new roster being that of returning forward Tom Duggan, followed by something of a coup with the capture of top ten British points, goals and assists forward Slava Koulikov from the Jets.
While the Jets may have lost their top Brit, their top import Darius Pliskauskas from Lithuania, who last season was in the EPL Top Ten Goals, Points and Assists Charts, re-signed. However, defenseman Andy Munroe was released and somewhat surprisingly Czech Jan Krajicek who had been lured from the Wildcats and despite being a high-scoring defender in his nine years in British hockey and a Top Ten D-men Chart last season. Surely someone will snap him up?
Oh yes, I lied about finishing on solid stuff because sticking with the Jets rumour has it Josh Bruce, the Tigers’ forward who has played for both Coventry at ENL and IEIHL level, is moving to there.
So a bit of a roller coaster week with some interesting signings which prompted Jets’ coach Pete Russell to comment that from what he had seen so far the EPL is shaping up into an even tougher place to be with more meat and IQ to the lower clubs of last season, which of course can only be a good thing for the league and the sport.
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