The three teams taking part in the Streaming Series, which begins this weekend, have been busy bolstering their squads.
Four current Elite League players have been announced between the teams, while one of the teams have even recruited a rival’s coach for the series, which begins on Saturday when Swindon Wildcats host Milton Keynes Lightning.
Probably the one surprising move is that of Jason Hewitt, the Hull Pirates’ player-coach, who returns to the Steel City where he’s signed for the Steeldogs for their matches coming up.
The 37-year-old insists he couldn’t take a year off and doesn’t believe it’s as much as a surprise as people may think.
“There have been a lot of strange things recently, but I think this is one of the stranger things right now” he said.
“This was a hockey decision, an opportunity to keep skating and get back playing. At my age it’s not wise to take over a year off.
“It’s strange right now but I daresay that once we get out there on the ice it will be just like any other day. I know all these guys as I’ve been in Sheffield for the best part of 15 years.
“I’ve known and skated with most of these guys during that time – it’s not as strange as it may appear to a lot of people.”
Steeldogs coach Ben Morgan added: “We moved to bring Hewy in because we have a few guys who, for work or family reasons, are unable to play in these games.
“But we want to make sure we have a competitive team who can provide a level of hockey which will attract viewers. Jason absolutely delivers that and, hopefully, we might have another guy coming in to help strengthen for these games.”
Morgan also confirmed the re-signings of Alex Graham, Ryan Johnson and Tim Smith as well as he gets ready to return to action this weekend.
Saturday’s hosts, Wildcats, have raided Cardiff Devils again to snap up experienced forward Matthew Myers for their games and joins Josh Batch, who signed for the club last week.
The statement on Twitter said: “Myers will continue to assess his options both in the UK and abroad for 20-21, but we’re excited to see him ice Cats colours in November.”
Aaron Nell’s side also confirmed returns for netminding duo Michael Crisp and Tyler Perre, who will back up Renny Marr again.
And the Swindon coach is glad to have them both back and is looking forward to seeing their enthusiasm around the Link Centre again.
He said: “It’s great to get Crispy and Tyler back to back up Renny again this year. The three of them worked closely together last year and really pushed each other to be the best they can be.
“The guys love being around the team in the locker-room and whilst the back up is a tough job, they always come to the rink with a smile on their faces.”
Milton Keynes Lightning finalised their roster with the signing of three Elite League players and a re-signing to complete their team.
“It’s great that all four guys have agreed to join us for the upcoming games,” MK coach Lewis Clifford said. “Benny has been skating with us since we were able to return to the ice, and a few spots opened up so it suited both us and him to get him straight back in the fold.
“Ross is a great player who can play in all situations, he comes highly recommended but some of our players and having seen him skate last night I’m sure he will fit straight into our roster and be a welcome addition.
“Hooky has been skating with us since we resumed training a while back and knows everyone here well and Clemo knows a large quantity of the boys from playing here previously and his Coventry and GB connections so there shouldn’t be any teething problems.
“Whilst our roster will look a little different to how we expected, we will be ready to go next Saturday and hopefully able to put on a great show for all the people who are watching us on the stream.”
All information regarding tickets for the Streaming Series can be found here.
Saturday – Swindon vs MK (18:15)
Sunday – Sheffield vs Swindon (17:30)
21 Nov – MK vs Swindon (19:00)
22 Nov – Swindon vs Sheffield (18:15)
28 Nov – MK vs Sheffield (19:30)
29 Nov – Sheffield vs MK (17:30)