Fife Flyers have completed a double signing to whet the appetite for the new season.
Highly-regarded netminder Shane Owen returns to the club after a year away from Fife Ice Arena, while power forward Danick Gauthier has agreed terms on a second consecutive season at the Kirkcaldy club, bringing the number of confirmed signings to five.
Both players will be expected to have a major impact as Flyers look to build on their Gardiner Conference success last season in what will be the club’s 80th anniversary year.
The return of Owen – a multiple player of the year winner in his previous campaign in Fife in 2016-17 – closes the door on a possible return for last season’s netminder, Andy Iles.
In his first stint with Fife, the 28-year-old from Markham, Ontario made 52 appearances in the Elite League with a GAA of 3.41 and a save percentage of .908.
Owen’s form in the EIHL earned him a big move to Sweden last summer with BIK Karlskoga, only to return to North America after just 13 games to sign for Wichita Thunder in the ECHL.
Another move quickly followed to ECHL franchise Rapid City Rush before the goalie returned to Europe in January, joining Polish club KH GKS Katowice, where he managed a career best .931 save percentage, helping the club to its first play-off finals in 15 years.
Katowice coach, Canadian Tom Coolen, was keen to retain Owen’s services but the 28-year-old was instead tempted by a return to Fife, to the delight of assistant coach Jeff Hutchins.
“Shane was a league all-star the last time he played in the EIHL,” he said. “We are delighted that we managed to bring him back to Kirkcaldy.
“He held us in a lot of games and gave us a chance to win where we probably shouldn’t have on some nights. He’s professional and comes ready to work every day.
“We have been fortunate in Fife to have quality goalies over the years, having Shane back in the blue, white and gold this coming year assures that trend continues.”
Owen added: “I’m really excited to be heading back to Fife. I enjoyed my time there the season before last and followed their journey last season.”
Flyers are equally delighted to bring back Gauthier, who will reclaim the #78 jersey for 2018-19. The 26-year-old from Waterloo, Quebec amassed 51 points from 53 games last season (26 goals and 25 assists) and was unstoppable when at his best.
Head coach Todd Dutiaume said: “Danick was a big presence in our line-up last season and a target of ours to have back. After a number of lengthy discussions, I’m delighted to have the Goat back in our line-up. Speaking to Danick he now feels that he knows the league better and is familiar with our family, so he has even more to offer offensively and physically.
“Once again he will be relied on heavily in most situations and I look to him to lead by example night in and night out.”
Gauthier added: “I really enjoyed my time in Fife last season and I am looking forward to heading back this season and competing for silverware.”
n Flyers have announced a change to their pre-season fixtures with the University of Manitoba Bisons replacing Manchester Storm as opposition on Thursday, August 23.
hedule to slot in some fixtures.
Flyers revised pre-season schedule now reads:
Thurs Aug 23 - Fife v University of Manitoba Bisons; Sat Aug 25 - Fife v Aalborg Pirates; Sun Aug 26 - Fife v Odense Bulldogs, Sat Sep 1 - Fife v Eispiraten Crimmitschau; Sun Sep 2 - Fife v Tolzer Lowen.