With three top forwards now returning from last season, Fife Flyers’ fans can see the team starting to take shape this summer.
Chase Schaber’s return was at the very top of their wish list – and confirmation he was back for the 80th anniversary season went down very well indeed.
Schaber was a 30-goal forward whose work-rate drove the team and was one of its key to success.
He was on the priority list of returnees put together by the coaches who also had some cryptic comments about loyalty following the departure of Liam Heelis to rivals, Braehead Clan.
And all that came as centreman Shayne Stockton took to social media to announce he was retiring.
The movement underlined that ice hockey’s summer recess is well and truly over.
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Schaber’s decision to spend a third season in Fife was a massive boost.
Todd Dutiaume, head coach, reckons there is even more to come from him.
He said: “Chase was a priority to have back. After a successful 30 goal season we feel he has even more to offer.
“His strength on the puck as well as the ability to find the net in key situations makes him a very valuable asset on the ice.
“He also has the ability to control the mood of our room and we’ll be looking to him to continue to steer and guide this team on to further successes.”
More signings are in the pipeline after a prolonged period of silence from the club which left fans frustrated at the lack of news.
The loss of Heelis to rivals Braehead certainly seemed to sting.
Jeff Hutchins, assistant coach, tweeted a cryptic message shortly after the forward headed west.
He tweeted: ”Loyalty is a strange thing, you think you do everything to warrant it, and then you get smacked in the face. Although, sometimes things happen for a reason and you realise you are better off. I think we are better off.’’
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Dutiaume spoke in similar terms in a weekend update from the club, as he touched on ”intensive and prolonged’’ talks, adding: “We are right there on a number of key guys however nothing is done until the contracts are signed and back. We found that out the hard way once this summer already.”
The club’s PR then went on to say the coach “makes reference to the loss of last season’s first year pro forward Liam Heelis.’’
With that backdrop, he is certain of a hot reception on his return to Fife this autumn.
Meanwhile, Shayne Stockton has decided to hang up his skates.
The centreman came to Fife in 2015 after a season in France, and was a key player in the team despite injury.
He was sidelined in October 2016, and headed home before Christmas, spending the rest of the campaign on the sidelines.
He returned the following season, sustained a shoulder injury which put him out of action for a number of weeks.
Stockton battled back and, at the height of his game, was a fantastic play-maker and goalscorer in big games.
He sent his best wishes to the club in a farewell message.
“Thanks Fife Flyers and the fans for the last three years” he said, hailing them “a great organisation and great fans” which gave him a second chance after injury – “something I’m truly grateful for.”