Rosters taking shape across the EIHL

Ryan Finnerty, new head coach at Manchester storm  (Pic: Al Goold)
Ryan Finnerty, new head coach at Manchester storm (Pic: Al Goold)

The building blocks are starting to fall in place, on and off the ice, for teams across the Elite League.

The building blocks are starting to fall in place, on and off the ice, for teams across the Elite League.

The sport may be deep into its summer recess, but the work going on behind the scenes is starting to bear fruit in the shape of new signings and rosters being re-shaped.

Down in Coventry, former Fife player/assistant coach, Danny Stewart, is having a major clear out.

In Sheffield the spine of the team is starting to take shape with a trio of new signings to add to the key returnees already announced.

In Guildford and Milton Keynes, rosters are being upscaled to prepare for debut seasons in the top flight.

And in Altrincham, there’s an “under new management’’ sign hanging on the door of the dressing-room.

Manchester Storm may still be relative newcomers to the EIHL, but they will go into the 2017/18 campaign with new management, a new coach, and a new look team.

And if happens to resemble Braehead Clan, then that will be no co-incidence.

The Storm are now run by a consortium headed by Gordon Greig, Clan fan and businessman, and his first move was to install Ryan Finnerty as coach, and his second was to sanction the signing of Jay Rosehill.

Clan fans fear he may well be the first of a few key skaters to make the move to the Storm Shelter.

Greig’s interest in ice hockey has gone from first time fan to sponsor to team owner in little more than four years.

That’s an impressive trajectory – and one which underlines just how quickly the sport can become a huge part of your life.

Hooked by the atmosphere and speed of the sport, he had been looking for an opportunity to take over a club, and the door opened down in Altrincham.

His first coaching appointment is someone he knows well, with Finnerty joining Storm GM, Neil Russell, and a number of existing backroom figures to shape the forthcoming season.

The capture of Rosehill, the former NHL enforcer, was a smart bit of business.

He is a big fella who plays the body and is tougher than the rest.

On a small Storm ice pad, his presence will be significant as Finnerty seeks to build a tough, fast and highly competitive team, but also one that also wins on the road.

This week also saw Braehead finally end their search for a replacement, with the appointment of John Tripp as head coach. He’s spent over a decade playing and coaching in Germany, and previously iced with NHL clubs, New York Rangers and LA Kings.

Clan’s under-23 roles are filled – Jordan Buesa is back for year two, and Josh Grieveson has signed from Dundee Stars – but the key signings have yet to be unveiled, giving the new coach a blank canvas.

The NHL alumni extended further this week with the arrival of Tim Wallace at Sheffield Steelers.

The power forward played 101 games in The Show for Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The play-off champs have also added the vastly experienced Jonas Westerling after a career in Swedish hockey spanning some 600 games, and defenceman, Mark Matheson from Rouen in France.

Dundee Stars also turned to the French leagues to sign former NCAA skater, Malcolm Gould, from Strasbourg, and brought former Edinburgh skater, Taylor Dickin, back to Scotland after a season with Manchester Storm.

MK Lightning also looked across the Channel to bring Kyle Essery from Rapaces de Gap, while popular Polish netminder, Prziemslaw Odrobny has confirmed his return along with young skater, Lewis Hook.

Stand-out goalie, Ben Bowns, is back at Cardiff Devils, while Ben Campbell will play his eighth season with Guildford Flames, where he will be joined by new forward, Ian Watters, a vastly experienced ECHLer who latterly skated with Reading Royals.

Signing of the week, however, has to go to Nottingham Panthers who snapped up 34-year-old Canadian goalie Mike Garnett from the KHL.

Garrett iced with Atlanta Thrasher in the NHL before joining the KHL where he played with clubs in Russia, Croatia and Slovakia,