NIHL North has improved significantly in recent years and the league could be set for an exciting Scandinavian-fuelled 2016/17 season.
Swedish forwards Dennis Boström and Niklas Ottosson (above) enjoyed prolific campaigns with Billingham Stars and Solihull Barons in Moralee D1 last term, prompting more teams to look towards Scandinavia for their goalscoring imports.
Stars have secured the services of Boström’s former teammate Daniel Palmebjörk, while Blackburn Hawks have added Patrik Nyman and Mikko Sierman to their roster.
Markus Kankaanranta is the latest forward to join the Scandinavian invasion having agreed to join Deeside Dragons.
Boström’s debut year in Britain was impressive, with the Swede bagging 37 goals with 20 assists in 37 games for the Stars.
He previously played alongside Palmebjörk at junior level, before the duo joined up again in the senior game at Tegs SK.
Palmebjörk outscored Boström during their time together and he should be a force to be reckoned with next season.
Ottosson posted the best individual season statistics amongst the Swedish players in their homeland, notching 22 goals with 28 assists in 40 games for Lindlövens IF in 2012/13.
His performances for the Barons during their Laidler D2 title winning season in 2014/15 earned him a move to the Elite League with Coventry Blaze, but he returned to Hobs Moat Road last summer to spearhead their debut in D1.
Ottosson’s 24 goals and 22 assists in 30 games helped the team to third place in the league and he will hope to continue in the same vein next season as the Barons chase the title.
Blackburn Hawks have had a summer of upheaval after claiming back-to-back regular season and play-off titles and much will be expected of their two new imports.
Patrik Nyman has been a steady points scorer in the same league as Boström, Palmebjörk and Ottosson and the 34-year-old should be well suited to NIHL North.
Mikko Sierman has also joined the Hawks and the club will hope he can make an even bigger impact than his Finnish compatriot Sami Narkia did in 2011/12.
Narkia scored 15 goals with 12 assists in 24 games for the Hawks, but Sierman’s record at a higher level in Finland suggests he will be a hit in the British game.
Newly-promoted Deeside Dragons also appear to have unearthed a gem, with Markus KanKaanranta producing better statistics in Finland than Sierman.
The Finn has subsequently enjoyed three excellent years in the German game and with new Dragons boss Scott McKenzie to guide him KanKaanranta could prove to be a shrewd acquisition.
(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)