Chad swaps Fife for Sydney to lace up skates for summer

Fife Flyers' Chad Smith leaves the ice at 2018 play-offs (Pic: Richard Davies)
Fife Flyers' Chad Smith leaves the ice at 2018 play-offs (Pic: Richard Davies)

While most of his team mates are heading off on their holidays, Fife Flyers forward Chad Smith is preparing to lace up his skates Down Under.

The 19-year-old forward will continue to play over the summer after joining Sydney Bears for the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) season, which starts on Saturday.

The move was set-up by one of Smith’s previous coaches in the Kirkcaldy junior development programme, former netminder Colin Downie, who is now a goalie coach with the Australian club.

Speaking from his Sydney base, where the time is nine hours in front, the Kirkcaldy youngster told the Press that he hopes the move will help further his ice hockey career.

“The opportunity came up towards the end of last season and after speaking to a few people I decided it would be good thing to do over the summer to stay in shape,” Smith (right) said.

“Colin Downie used to coach me at Fife under 10s before he moved to Australia, so he was the one who put me in touch with the Sydney head coach and everything happened from there.

“Summer is usually for relaxing but, career-wise, I feel this is the best move for me. I’m getting to see a different part of the world and playing ice hockey at a decent level, which is the icing on the cake.

“I got here on Sunday and it’s been amazing so far. The weather is great and the wildlife is crazy. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Sydney Bears are one of eight clubs in the AIHL, and while each team can sign up to six imports, they can only ice four in any one game.

“I’ve been brought in as an import so I’ll be getting good ice time and they’ll be looking for me to put up numbers, which is a great challenge,” Smith added.

“The clubs bring in some decent imports and some of the Australians are pretty good too.

“I had my first training session on Tuesday and the quality was better than I was expecting.

“One of our Canadian imports, Ryan Annesley, is from Ontario and he knows Peter LeBlanc and Chase Schaber.

“Otherwise, everyone over here is all new to me.”

Before making the move, Smith sought advice from Fife Flyers coaches Todd Dutiaume and Jeff Hutchins, and both gave their support.

“I asked them what was best, and they were all for it,” Smith said.

“They felt this would help me develop as a player.

“They both seemed keen on bringing me back to Fife next season, and I’d love to go back, so we’ll see what happens.

“I had a great first full season in the Elite League.

“I learned a lot from the guys in the room and being part of the play-off weekend was amazing too.

“I’d have liked a bit more ice time, but the ultimate goal is to get a regular shift.

“I’ll keep working hard on improving my game, and give it the best shot I can.”