Signings Update: New faces continue to arrive

Mike McNamee is Cardiff bound (PHOTO: Blueline Media)

Six players have been confirmed for their new clubs as the squad building continued for the Elite League clubs over the last week.

After bringing back a raft of familiar faces, Cardiff Devils went for something fresh when they announced that Canadian forward Mike McNamee would be joining them.

The 26-year-old picked up 46 points in 32 games in Denmark with Aalborg Pirates and also featured in the Champions Hockey League.

And coach Andrew Lord spoke of how he impressed he was with him as he moved to bring his first new face of the summer into his team.

He told the Devils website: “Mike will be a dynamic forward for us with his speed, skill and vision.  His top end speed is good but his explosiveness in tight space is also very exciting.

“He is a big body with good reach and size, and he can create a lot of offence from below the goal line and out of the corners in addition to off the rush.

“His overall skill set is high-end and I believe he will be an entertaining player for our fans to watch.

“I got to know Mike through the recruiting process quite well and I was very impressed with how he carries himself and his desire to come to an organisation with a winning track record and a team that is in the running for trophies.

Andrew Johnston is one of two signings by Coventry this week (PHOTO: Chamonix)

“The feedback on Mike as a person was through the roof and I know he is going to be a great guy in our locker room and a team first player.”

Coventry Blaze got everyone up early on Sunday when head coach Danny Stewart announced on radio that his team had secured Andrew Johnston, a player who can play on the wing or in the centre.

The 27-year-old signs from Bordeaux in France and comes to the UK for his fourth straight season away of home, which has taken in spells with Chamonix, also in France and Hungarian side DVTK Jegesmedvék.

Stewart was pleased to land his man and revealed there was some interest in him from elsewhere.

“Andrew is an exciting player who has led his team in scoring the past two seasons and there was a lot of interest in him, and so we’re really pleased to have got his signature,” the Blaze boss told the club website. 

“He brings us speed up the middle, and production that we are looking to add with our last few signings. He’s a dynamic player who can play in all situations and has great size to go along with it.”

Johnston’s signing followed on from that of defence man Chris Pohlkamp, who competed the defensive makeup for the Blaze earlier in the week.

The 23-year-old is making his first steps in his pro career after serving four years in the NCAA with Bowling Green State University and he believes the club is good fit for him.

“I chose to come over to the UK and play for Coventry because the Blaze do things right, Pohlkamp explained.

“From what coach Danny Stewart described in regards the team’s style of play and support of the community, it was a no brainer that this was the place for me. 

“The fans can expect a player that competes hard every night. I’m a smaller defenceman, but I like to play physical. For my style of play, Coventry sounds like the perfect place.”

While Cardiff signed McNamee from Aalborg Pirates, one of his team-mates has also made the move to the ElIte League as Cam Braes confirmed he was set for a season with Guildford Flames.

After splitting last season in Denmark and with Czech Republic outfit Orli Znojmo, Flames have signed their third new face and 15th overall so far.

And Flames coach Paul Dixon is hopeful Braes can step up and contribute with scoring, especially at times when there’s a slight drought.

“By all accounts, Cam fits right into the mould of a lot of players we already have here,” he told the Flames website.

“Last season we had stretches where we didn’t score as much as we might have liked and Cam should be able to not only add to that himself, but he will be a good complement to the players around him, which helps us get the most of everyone’s skill set.

“He has played with and against some of the guys we already have with us so he should be coming to a dressing room with a bit of familiarity, and definitely adds to the talent level we have in place.”

Up to Scotland, Dundee Stars were back in the market and picked out a new defenceman in English-born Reilly O’Connor, who returns to his country of birth after forging a career in Canada.

The 25-year-old has spent the last five years with the University of Guelph and his making his move into pro career, joining the Stars as they aim for a play-off spot this season.

Stars coach Omar Pacha outlined what his new D-man, who was born in Epsom, will bring to his side in the new season.

“The references on him were great and in his last year in Guelph they made it to the national finals and Reilly was a big part of that team,” he said.

British born Reilly O’Connor is coming back to the UK for Dundee Stars (PHOTO: Univ. of Guelph)

“He’s a steady defenseman, a good solid D-man that skates really well that can join the rush and is great on the penalty kill.

“Reilly’s a a warrior who will block shots and we need a guy like that, a two-way guy who can support the rush but also be responsible defensively,

“He can do that and is a great character guy, someone we want to build off those types of guys for this upcoming season.”

Glasgow Clan also confirmed their netminding team as Jordan McLaughlin signed from Solway Sharks in the NIHL, signalling his return to the Elite League.

The 19-year-old played 24 games for Edinburgh Capitals in what turned out to be their last campaign two seasons ago and will replace Gary Russell as he backs up Patrick Killeen this year.

And the young Scot is delighted to get another crack at the Elite League and reckons he’s a better, more mature player.

“Getting the chance at the top level is not something to complain about so I can’t wait for the chance to play and improve,” he said. “It’s good to be back in the Elite League, but I had a good year in Solway last year where I got plenty of playing time.”

“Playing in Edinburgh was a massive learning experience, but I’m better now than I was a couple of years ago. It’s an exciting opportunity for me and after having a chat with the coach, Zack Fitzgerald, I’m looking forward to work with him and Patrick Killeen when I arrive.”

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