Preparations in the NIHL National League continued with five more confirmed names heading to the new league.
Arguably the biggest signing was Milton Keynes Lightning’s capture of Finnish forward Ari Närhi, who arrives as their second import from Riemu.
The 27-year-old comes in after picking up 22 goals and 52 points in total from his 40 appearances with the third tier side.
And Lightning coach Lewis Clifford had a very specific player in mind when he looked to fill the spot, revealing Nähri was the man for the job.
He told the club’s website: “It took me a long time to find the right player to be our second import, I had quite a specific set of criteria to hit and I’m convinced Ari will meet them.
“He’s been playing in the Suomi-sarja for a few years and found the back of the net regularly in what is a very good league.
🔶🔷Welcome to the Chiefs 🔷🔶
With 45pts in 36 games last season we're excited to welcome former Shark Joe Coulter, the 24 yr old fwd joins the Chiefs after playing all of his hockey so far in Solway, we cant wait to welcome him to Leeds
— Leeds Chiefs Ice Hockey Club (@LeedsChiefsIHC) August 7, 2019
“His stats stack up well against other Finnish players who have played in the same league who have played in this country before.
“Ari is predominantly a centreman which is what I was looking for, but he can play on the wing if needed and I’m sure at some point this season he will end up doing a bit of both.”
Leeds Chiefs continued to build their first roster in the new set-up and plundered Solway Sharks for a second time to land Joe Coulter from the Dumfries side.
The 24-year-old picked up 60 points from 50 games in NIHL North 1 last season and Leeds coach Sam Zajac was impressed at the commitment Coulter is prepared to show.
He told the Yorkshire Post: “It’s a big ask for players from far away to relocate to Leeds, especially at this level you need to try and find a guy who has got a job where they can be quite flexible. Joe’s a personal trainer, so that kind of trade will follow him wherever.
— Basingstoke Bison (@BisonHockey) August 8, 2019
“It shows me these guys are willing to make the sacrifices and leave behind everything they have back home to make that step up to the next level.”
Also on the move, in this case back, is Brady Doxey, who returns to Sheffield Steeldogs after a season with Sutton Sting.
The 19-year-old was part of the Steeldogs Prospect Programme and was sent to Sting to gain ice time under coach Simon Butterworth.
Going the other way is Thomas Relf, who after three years with the Steeldogs to strengthen their defensive line-up.
Meanwhile, Basingstoke Bison have announced the return of teenage prospect Oscar Evans, who impressed for them last season.