Kirkcaldy boy Stephen Gunn will continue to ice for his home town club after signing on for a 10th consecutive season with Fife Flyers.
Gunn (28) first joined Flyers in 2005 after breaking through the Kirkcaldy Ice Hockey Club junior development ranks as a teenager.
After spending six successful years in the SNL, Gunn was retained for the move into the Elite League, and over the past three seasons he has made 177 appearances, contributing 22 goals and 16 assists.
Head coach Todd Dutiaume is delighted to seal the return of a player he has helped developed over the past decade.
“Gunny has improved as a player every year he’s been with us and we’re delighted to have him back,” Dutiaume told the Press.
“Especially last year, he proved on a number of occasions that he is quite a competent Brit at EIHL level.
“In our league you have a number of high profile British guys who play for the GB team, but Stephen has really upped his game and we feel there is still more to come from him.”
Dutiaume believes Gunn’s form throughout the final two months of last season was among the best he has produced in a Flyers jersey.
“He’s really matured over the last three years in the EIHL,” he said. “We see some flashes of what he’s capable of - you might not notice him then all of a sudden he has a burst of speed that impresses a lot of people.
“He’s realising what it takes to be in our line-up, and that he needs to bring his best every night.
“He’s starting to make an impact in games against the bigger clubs and that comes with confidence and consistency. We’re looking for him to be a factor in every game.”
Gunn’s eight goals and seven assists last season came despite his limited third line role.
“People may not realise that he’s basically had zero powerplay time, and that’s where a lot of these guys get their offence from,” Dutiaume explained.
“He’s constantly on the third line, and our first and second lines have had difficulty generating offence at times, never mind the third.
“Any success he’s had has been through overcoming a lot of obstacles.
“Stephen knows exactly what we expect of him. If he can bring a level of consistency points will come, but we don’t get caught up on points. Our third line does a good job and rarely gets scored on.”
Gunn himself is looking forward to another season at the top level of UK ice hockey.
“Last season was an amazing year for us, we had highs and lows, but I was delighted with the way we finished,” he said.
“We went on a solid run of wins and there was no better reward than to make it to the play-off finals weekend.
“Unfortunately the result didn’t go our way in the semi-final, but it was an amazing experience and I know the team will want to make it again this year, but this time bring home the silverware.”
Associate coach Danny Stewart added: “Gunny has come on a long way since we joined the EIHL and he gives us a scoring threat on the third line.
“I thought Gunny played some of his best hockey down the stretch last season.
“We will be expecting him to take the next step this season and bring that type of game and mentality from the start through to the end.”