SWINDON, UK – Another fairly subdued week and hardly surprising seeing as the sun was discovered by a few hiding behind distant grey clouds. So, following the good old British custom in response to the temperature blazing through eighteen degrees into the heady low twenties, thousands dug out their shorts, crawled into the queue for the coast and pillaged Asda for charcoal for the Barbie. Oh yes, and we also have had that little sporting distraction in London, don’t we?
But those not so inclined and with a disposition towards fretting about our sport there were technical ice mishaps in Basingstoke, where the Under18 training was cancelled again, and Milton Keynes where the Lightning quickly assured us the matter would be righted long before the first games came about. Whew!
So with little happening and not a lot to worry about, that just left a few player moves.
In Guildford, British D-man Ricky Skene returned to the Flames having left two seasons previously for the Bison, Phantoms and Bees. Skene first set foot on Guildford ice in 2002 after two terms with the Jets, and went on to complete a five-year spell so this coming season will notch up an eighth all told.
The Jets added 19-year-old netminder Danny Milton to their roster from their NIHL side making him the twenty-ninth teenager to join the EPL this season. While Milton is no shorty, a slightly loftier signing came in the shape of Frantisek Bakrlik standing 6’5” (1.95m), and a hefty 230lbs (105kgs), so not exactly a stealth player who is going to sneak round the ice unnoticed and pounce without warning. The Czech forward played in Britain for the first time in 2011 after spells with a variety of clubs in Eastern Europe and North America followed by three Elite League clubs culminating in Fife with the Flyers. So while something of a nomad, he will undoubtedly be a player worth keeping on eye on now he is in the EPL. Well, I mean, he isn’t going to be that difficult to spot, is he?
Ex-Wildcats’ forward Jamie Hayes returned to Swindon after a year with Cardiff in the National League and was joined by team mate Chris Jones who has completed six years in his native Wales including at GB Under18 and Under19 levels.
A handful of players moved in the opposite direction with Phoenix’s utility player Ryan Johnson turning to Sutton Sting, while D-man John Connolly, who also had time with the Jets and in Kazakhstan, headed for the Sharks. Meanwhile, Jet’s defender Sam Waller, who also iced for the Bees, joined the Hornets, and Tigers’ netminder Josh Nichols went to the Blaze.
That makes a total of nineteen players who have vacated their spaces on EPL benches in favour of the National League, while twelve have made the step up in the other direction and a further eight have joined from elsewhere like abroad or junior programmes.
In addition, ten EPL players have moved to the Elite League and, up until the EIHL increase in its Brit quota, another ten had left Elite for Premier. Interestingly, since the EIHL announcement no more players, Brits or otherwise, have joined the EIHL from the EPL, but a further four have been signed by EPL clubs.
This now all leaves fourteen of last season’s British players who have yet to be found a home, assuming they want to be found one, while eleven of last season’s imports have still to be accounted for although a couple certainly won’t be rejoining their previous clubs, and probably not even returning to the league.
Now, where did I put that Factor 30 sun block I had back in 1989?
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