Signings Update: EIHL bolster with more new faces

(PHOTO: Blende 47)

A busy few days in the signing market has seen six new players announced as coming to the UK, while three confirmed they would be staying, two of which switching clubs.

It’s fair to say it’s all systems go as the ten coaches work to build their teams to challenge for what is expected to be a very exciting competition.

Nottingham Panthers, Coventry Blaze and Glasgow Clan have all brought in two players each in a hectic few days and fans have been happy with the acquisitions their teams have made.

The Panthers, under new coach Tim Wallace, swooped to bring in American defenceman Brian Connolly, ending his four-year stay in Austria.

The 33-year-old arrives from Dornbirner and Panthers Director of Hockey, Guillaume Doucet, revealed Connolly was a player he identified early in his recruitement drive.

He told the club’s website: “Brian was one of my early targets, he’s the kind of player who can have an impact in the Elite League, he makes things happen not least on the powerplay.

“He wants to come to Nottingham and he wants to help us to win trophies. His ambitions are high and we like that.”

Further to that, they were bolstered again with the signing of Alexis Loiseau, a centreman arriving from Hungarian side DVTK Jegesmedvék, who was announced on Thursday night.

Doucet spoke of his versatility and believes his new capture can be something of an asset in the coming season.

He told the Panthers website: “I like what I hear about Alexis and his versatility is one of his strengths. I’ve got a role at centre in mind for him but if we ever needed to we can throw him on to either wing and know he can do a job for us.

“He will prove to be an asset in the Elite League. I see him being very strong for the Nottingham Panthers down the middle.”

Coventry Blaze have been active as well with the addition of two players, one of which fresh from recent play-off glory.

Drew Schiestel has swapped life in South Wales with Cardiff Devils to join Danny Stewart’s side after helping Andrew Lord’s men kill off Belfast Giants’ Grand Slam hopes.

Stewart was pleased to get him and the possibility for further education was one that helped to swing the deal, keeping him in the UK for another season.

Drew Schiestel is off to Coventry Blaze (PHOTO: David Williams)

“Drew adds massively to our back-end in all areas. He’s got good size, skates very well, moves the puck well and can play all situations,” Stewart told the Blaze website.

He’s coming off a playoff trophy with Cardiff and will bring some experience to a young roster. We are delighted to get him on board next season and owe credit to our relationship with Coventry University Business School in making this happen.”

Schiestel wasn’t the only one to figuratively stride through the Skydome doors, following straight after David Broll, who gave an indication of what the Blaze fans can expect from him.

He said: “After speaking to coach Danny Stewart about the organisation and the team he is putting together, I felt that it was something I wanted to be a part of and at this point in my career, it was the best option for me.

“The fans in Coventry should expect a big power forward with grit that plays physical and can skate well and add some offence too. I can’t wait for August.”

Up in Scotland, Glasgow Clan coach Zack Fitzgerald brought in two new defenceman as Matt Pufahl and Jordan Heywood confirmed they had committed for the new season.

Pufahl arrives from Slovakian side HKM Zvolen and told the Clan Chat podcast he was keen to learn under his new coach.

Matt Pufahl is one of two signings for Glasgow Clan this week (PHOTO: Acadia Athletics)

“I think I can learn a lot from the coach,” he said. “Zack seems to be a fans favourite in Glasgow too so I hope he can help improve the defensive side of my game and make me excel.”

Joining him at the Gardiner Conference champions is Jordan Heywood, who ends a three-spell in Germany after a year with Dresdner Eislowen from DEL2.

And he revealed he could have been wearing purple last year, if things had gone a little differently, but the timing wasn’t right for the 30-year-old.

He said: “I’d spoken to the club last year about possible joining and I had some discussion with Gareth Chalmers, but I didn’t feel ready to move just then. A year later, it’s worked out and here I am.

“I played in a pre-season game there (with Dresdner) back in August last year and at the time, it seemed like a great arena.  Both teams were rusty as I recall, but it was an experience I enjoyed.”

Arguably the busiest team of the last few days has been Guildford Flames, who lovingly waved two players goodbye, but brought in a former favourite.

Stevie Lee is back at his former club after ten years with Nottingham Panthers and a lot’s happened since he previously turned out for them in the English Premier League in 2008-09.

And he’s delighted to be returning under Paul Dixon and is keen to make more memories for the club, who enjoyed appearances in the Challenge Cup Final and the play-off finals weekend last season.

He told the website: “I’m very excited to be returning to Guildford.  It’s a great organisation to be part of, with a great fan-base.

I had an amazing time there 10 years ago and I have nothing but great memories from my first stint with the club and hope to make many more.

“The Flames had a great season last year and it’s a great sign to see a large portion of that team already signed up.

“Hopefully I can help the team add to the success they earned last season. I can’t wait to meet the guys and get started.”

Going the other way is Kevin King and Evan Janssen who have taken up offers at Cortina in Italy and Hungarian side UTE respectively.

Sheffield Steelers are continuing their rebuilding process as right winger Michael Davies signed on for the club.

Michael Davies is the latest to sign for Sheffield Steelers (PHOTO: EHC Linz)

He revealed he spoke with two former Steelers to get a point of reference on his new club and they managed to help convince him it would be the right move.

Davies said: “It was a huge help having Guillaume Desbiens and Mark Matheson as references.

“They told me that Sheffield was the number one place to play and I’d be happy there, that was the start I needed when doing my research.

“My agent and I were very impressed with Aaron (Fox) and we certainly liked the team that he is building for the Steelers. It made you want to be a part of it.”

Steelers were also linked with Russian winger Nikolai Lemtyugov earlier in the week, as they try to fight off reported interest from KHL sides.

Finally, Cardiff Devils announced top scoring forward Charles Linglet was coming back for a second season with the club.

The 36-year-old impressed in his first campaign, helping them to the play-off title is the club’s seventh confirmed player for the new season.

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