Early start to summer team building across EIHL

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The summer recess is only in its infancy, but the team building has started for a new ice hockey season.

A host of EIHL teams have announced key returnees for the 2017-18 campaign, which starts in September, and confirmed a few departures.

Sheffield Steelers wasted little time after their stunning play-off final championship by handing new two-year deals to coach Paul Thompson and his assistant, Jerry Andersson.

On the ice they tied up deals to ensure the returns of key forward Mattieu Roy. Gullaime Desbiens, and netminder Ervins Mostokovs, but there will be no return to the club for blueliner Anders Franzon or forward Geoff Walker, scorer of two goals in that epic final against Cardiff Devils.

Braehead Clan seem set to start the next season with a clean slate.

The final buzzer had barely sounded on the 2016-17 season when Clan parted company with coach Ryan Finnerty. He delivered conference titles and Champions League hockey during his tenure, but the club is now looking to kick-on and start a new era, and says it may opt for a player-coach.

Out too went captain, and team leader, Matt Keith.

There will be a new man at the helm of Belfast Giants too after Derrick Walser moved on, while the Irish side have confirmed forward Mike Forney is heading back home to Minnesota.

Down in Coventry, coach Danny Stewart has inked deals with captain Jordan Pietrus and British forward Ross Venus, but Jim Jorgensen is a non-returnee.

Nottingham Panthers have also said farewell to netminder Miika Wiikman, while Brad Moran, their team captain, has called time on his 17-year pro hockey career.

Coach Corey Neilson has also hinted at building a younger team having gone for experience last season.

League newcomers MK Lightning are starting to build their first EIHL roster around their trusted players. netminders Przemyslaw Odrobny and Jordan Hedley, 2016/17 top scorer Lewis Hook, and former Braehead Clan forward Jordan Cownie. Defenceman James Griffin is also back for the club’s move into top flight ice hockey.