GILLINGHAM, UK – After a couple of seasons with no silverware the Invicta Dynamos have turned to an old fan favourite to try and bring back that old familiar winning feeling to Kent.
Few people watching Invicta lift their eighth league title in succession back in 2010 would have expected it to mark the finale of a domination of ENL South for the Gillingham based club.
The smiling hordes of visiting fans who had travelled over to the Isle of Wight to celebrate with their team, looked on as an Invicta side containing many of the players who had contributed to the success of the club over the years, hugged each other and posed for pictures as the champagne flowed.
Fast forward two seasons and those memories have faded as first Wightlink Raiders and then Romford Raiders clasped their hands on a trophy that seemed to only ever have red and blue ribbons on in the past.
Less surprising, but equally as frustrating for the Dynamos faithful, has been a lack of joy in the Play-Offs, as Bracknell, and then Chelmsford (twice) have been victorious in the season climax competition.
Invicta Head Coach Kevin Parrish, notably frustrated last season, made a decision this summer to try and reverse recent trends by bringing back one of the main reasons Invicta were celebrating on the island two years ago.
Step forward Peter Vaisanen, an Ontario native who fired a 100 point season in his one and only campaign in Dynamos colours to cement his place in the hearts of the clubs fans.
That the 27 year old finds himself back in the newly branded NIHL is somewhat of a disappointment for those observers who predicted the hard hitting winger would flourish at a higher level after leaving to head up to Yorkshire with the Sheffield Steeldogs in the English Premier League.
“My time in Sheffield was tough to be honest” admitted Vaisanen, who suffered badly with an injury and made only 13 appearances for the club.
“I have to say however, the organization had treated me well in the short time I was there. Yorkshire was great, and I have nothing but good things to say about the Northerners”
There were rumours that Vaisanen would return to Kent as early last season but the Canadian decided to follow his heart to Finland and enjoyed a campaign with Finnish side Lamarit, where he was given the Alternate Captaincy, as he had at Invicta during his first spell there.
“Both of my parents are from Finland and it was always a dream of mine to play there” explained Vaisanen.
“It was a special season as I learned to speak some Finnish so that I could have a conversation with my parents in their native language. As well learning about my family’s culture and seeing where they came from made it a special year”
“The level of Hockey was great and there are many aspects from the game in Finland that they have adopted from Canada”
Despite the newly kindled love affair with the Scandinavia, a call from his former Coach Kevin Parrish in Gillingham was all that was needed for the 6’ 1” player to start planning a return to England.
“Obviously Invicta has fantastic fans and that was a big part for me to come back to Invicta” explained Vaisanen, who hit exactly 50 goals and 50 assists in his spell with the club.
“Along with the fans, Kevin Parrish and the owners were nothing but good to me when I was there. It makes it easy to come back to an organization that treats their players well and also has a pedigree to win”
“I have kept an eye on the league and I am glad to see that the league has become more competitive. I am looking forward to the season and I have been training hard to raise my game so that I can achieve all of my goals for the upcoming season”
The upcoming season will indeed be a new challenge for Vaisanen and his new team mates, who will have to compete against fierce rivals Romford and Chelmsford for honours along with the likes of Wightlink who have strengthened once again.
The focus will be on Vaisanen not only as a fan favourite but also as an import in a league where only two non EIHA trained players can dress for any particular game.
Last year’s top scorer Ryan Ellis has departed with Justin Noble left to take up the other spot, but Vaisanen maintains that the pressure and expectation of taking up a limited slot does not faze him.
“I am looking forward to stepping on to the ice against Milton Keynes and to hopefully make our mark as a team early on” he explains.
“I arrive in the country third week in August. I have been working out hard, on and off the ice as well spending some time with family and friends. I was able to hit the links up quite a bit this summer as well”
“I really appreciate how I was a fan favourite last time out, but no I don’t feel any added pressure, as an import I am always expected to perform at the top of my game and I am ready for that challenge once again”
“All I want this year is another Championship with Invicta and I know Kevin is working hard at putting the right team on the ice to do so”
Kevin Parrish has certainly had another busy summer, and a full squad list, plus news of the return of Captain Andy Smith is all now on the club’s official website.
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