Coventry Blaze 2022-23 Roster: Signings, Quotes & More

Coventry Blaze 2022-23 Roster | Ross Venus, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Coventry Blaze 2022-23 Roster | Ross Venus, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)

It’s a brave new world at the Skydome Arena.

The Coventry Blaze will embark upon 2022-23 without Luke Ferrara, their star forward of yesteryear, after he was snatched by the Nottingham Panthers.

However, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Danny Stewart’s side heading into the new campaign. Coventry have retained the services of stalwarts David Clements and Ross Venus, while recruiting a former Montreal Canadien on the cusp of a bounce back season.

After finishing seventh last term, has Stewart added enough quality to his roster to look up the standings this time around?

Coventry Blaze 2022-23 Roster

Last updated at 15:17 on Sunday, 7 August; bookmark this page to stay up-to-date with Coventry’s latest signings.

Coventry Blaze Goaltenders:

Paavo Hölsä: For only the second time in his career, Hölsä is pencilled in as a starting netminder. He arrives in the West Midlands after two successful seasons with HK Olimpija Ljubljana.

Paavo Hölsä, Coventry Blaze (Image: Kuva / Tommy Jokelainen)
Paavo Hölsä, Coventry Blaze (Image: Kuva / Tommy Jokelainen)
  • Coach’s Verdict: “He’s very agile and competes for every puck. He’s a hard-working guy that is keen to keep getting better. He wanted the challenge of playing more games and being our go to guy, and we are delighted to bring him in for this season.”
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Catches: Left
  • Nation(s): Finland

Will Bray: After suiting up for the Blaze in the Elite Series, academy graduate Bray is back with the big club. He will embark upon his first professional season this autumn.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “It may be a bit early in Will’s career to be at the Elite level, but we feel with his drive and dedication, along with the support of Hedley, that he will develop considerably next year and beyond.”
  • Age: 19
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Catches: Left
  • Nation(s): Great Britain

Jordan Hedley: In the event of an injury crisis, Hedley is signed to a two-way contract with the Milton Keynes Lightning. However, the NIHL club has first dibs on the Team GB netminder as he pursues more ice time.

Coventry Blaze Defencemen:

New Signings:

Alexander Kuqali: After taking last season off for personal reasons, Kuqali is back in the game. He graduated from the NCAA in 2015-16 and has played in the ECHL ever since. His record in North America’s third tier is impressive for a defensive blueliner: 279 games, 79 points, 94 penalty minutes. He’ll be an asset on Coventry’s top penalty-killing unit.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Alex is a stay at home defenceman with great size. He’s another guy that’s difficult to play against due to his heavy play and willingness to defend. He’s very good on the penalty-kill and is another guy who will put his body on the line.”
  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): USA

Garret Johnston: Since winning the ECHL’s Kelly Cup in his first professional season, Johnston has enjoyed a solid career in North America’s third tier. He made 49 appearances for the Newfoundland Growlers last term, registering 11 assists for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ affiliate.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “He can be used as a shut-down guy, whilst also bringing good transition on and off the puck. He’s solid is all areas and will log quality minutes for us.”
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Canada
Garrett Johnston, Newfoundland Growlers (Image: Scott Grau)
Garrett Johnston, Newfoundland Growlers (Image: Scott Grau)

Tanner Lishchynsky: Approaching his second season in the professional ranks, Lishchynsky is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan and a former captain of the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice. He made 66 appearances in the ECHL last term, accumulating six points (two goals, four assists).

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Tanner is a defensive minded defenceman with good size and skates well… We love his compete, and his willingness to do the little things and put his body on the line.”
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Canada

Returning Players:

David Clements: In possibly the least surprising news of the offseason, Clements is back with the Blaze. He has developed leaps and bounds over recent years, breaking into Team GB while moving up Stewart’s depth chart.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “With additional opportunity last season, he made some strides with his production, and will be given every opportunity to build on that next season. It’s a big year for him.”
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): Great Britain

Nathanael Halbert: In hockey, first impressions matter – and Halbert’s was positive in Coventry. He registered 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in 51 Elite League appearances last term, setting himself up for further success this time around.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Getting ‘Halby’ back was a big move for us. He’s a clear-cut top pairing guy at this level and is a great start to re-building our team for next year. He is very good at both ends of the ice, plays all situations, plays with grit and was a definite fan favourite last season.”
  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Canada / Great Britain

Coventry Blaze Forwards:

New Signings:

Jack Billings: Progress isn’t linear in hockey. Billings has been on a journey since starting his collegiate career with Salve Regina University in division three of the NCAA. He later moved to Niagara University’s elite programme, notching 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 54 appearances. The dimunitive forward made his professional debut last season, clocking 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 39 games for the ECHL’s Iowa Wild.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “He has a great hockey head, good speed and is coming off a good season in Iowa. He has got better every year since going to college, moving up to Division 1 and then onto pro. We feel we are getting him at the right time in his career.”
  • Age: 26
  • Role: Left/Right Wing
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): USA

Peyton Frantti: Everything points towards Frantti centring one of Coventry’s middle-six lines. He tore NCAA III to shreds in 2021-22, registering 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) in 25 appearances for St Norbert College. He followed up his collegiate hot streak with five points (two goals, three assists) in four appearances for the SPHL’s Fayetteville Marksmen. Potent, but unproven.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Peyton had a great college career and phenomenal senior year. He was second in the country in points per game and brings other intangibles that we are excited about.”
  • Age: 24
  • Role: Centreman
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): USA

Kim Tallberg: Sometimes, you just feel the urge to try something new and Tallberg can relate. He’ll play outside of Sweden for the first of his career next season, hoping to build on an impressive record in the Allsvenskan: 261 games, 47 goals, 44 assists.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Along with that he has a great skill set and hockey head. He’s played different roles in his career that will allow him to play a 200-foot game for us. He’s a great pro off the ice and has a tremendous work ethic. We are very happy with this signing.
  • Age: 30
  • Role: Left/Right Wing
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Sweden

Brock Trotter: Formerly of the Montreal Canadiens, Trotter has set his sights on a bounce back season in Coventry. His season was derailed by a serious bout of coronavirus last season, but the Blaze are optimistic the former American Hockey League star will be back to his best in 2022-23.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Not only is he very good on the powerplay, but he will also pose a threat every night five-on-five. He can score, he’s got great playmaking ability, and his creativity will make those around him better.”
  • Age: 35
  • Role: Centre/Wing
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): Canada

Radek Veselý: This could turn out to be a coup for Coventry. Veselý made 48 appearances in the Czech Extraliga last season, scoring nine points (two goals, seven assists) while soaking up bottom-six minutes. Considering the quality of Czech hockey, he could make quite the impact for the Blaze.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Radek is a big centre that moves well and has really good skill. He played last season in the top Czech league and did a very good job there. For us, he will have the ability to play in more offensive situations, to which he has proven he is more than capable of during his career in Czechia2.”
  • Age: 26
  • Role: Centre
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Czechia

Colton Yellow Horn: Formerly of the Glasgow Clan, Yellow Horn is back for another year in the Elite League. He’s rarely the busiest skater on the ice but will add plenty of quality to Coventry’s power play and compensates for the loss of Janne Laakkonen to the Fife Flyers.

Colton Yellow Horn, previously Glasgow Clan (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Colton Yellow Horn, previously Glasgow Clan (Image: Scott Wiggins)
  • Coach’s Verdict: “He is point producer plain and simple. He has played a big part offensively everywhere that he has gone, and we expect the same from him next season. We liked his hockey head.”
  • Age: 35
  • Role: Left Wing/Centre
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Canada

Returning Players:

Mitch Cook: He joined the Blaze midway through last season and earned a contract extension through his influence on the ice. Cook registered 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 31 Elite League outings last year, taking the quality jump from the BeNeLiga in his stride.

Related: Mitch Cook: ‘I’m glad I made the move’

  • Coach’s Verdict: “We started to see some more production from him towards the end of the season and he has that ability. He is dependable in all three zones, and we knew we could put him out there in any situation last year.”
  • Age: 28
  • Role: Right Wing
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): Canada

Johnny Curran: Elite League fans will be familiar with Curran by now. He first joined the Blaze in 2019-20, putting together 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 47 appearances before lockdown struck. He returned last season, scoring 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) in 54 games.

Johnny Curran, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Johnny Curran, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)
  • Coach’s Verdict: “We like his speed and energy, and he will play in our top six next season. He is still at a good age and has the upside to get even better.”
  • Age: 27
  • Role: Right Wing/Centre
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): Canada

Alex Forbes: Part of Stewart’s circle of trust, Forbes is back in Coventry for a fifth year in blue. He notched six points (three goals, three assists) last season, filling in on the blueline during the Blaze’s injury crisis. Defensively responsible and solid offensively: no wonder his coach is a fan!

  • Coach’s Verdict: “He’s a very valuable piece to our group here, and we are delighted to get him back. I thought he was playing his best hockey before his injury, and we expect him to be at full health when the season starts.”
  • Age: 26
  • Role: Right Wing
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): Great Britain

Nathan Ripley: Technically back for a second year in Coventry, Ripley was on a two-way deal last term. He’s a full-time member of the Blaze this time around, with a place in the bottom-six calling his name.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Nathan impressed us last season enough to bring him in full time this season. He’s got good size and skates well. He has a good head for the game and brings a great attitude. He’s a kid that will get better and we look forward to helping him develop, whilst also giving us depth up front.”
  • Age: 20
  • Role: Left Wing
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Great Britain

Ross Venus: Here’s a thinker. Imagine making 550 Elite League appearances before turning 29. Venus doesn’t have to. An indispensable member of the Blaze, he notched 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 54 outings last season.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Last season he was asked to play a bigger role due to injuries and a very tough market. He did so without any hesitation and played very well for us.”
  • Age: 28
  • Role: Left Wing/Centre
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Great Britain

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*