Fife Flyers: directors issue statement and club loses young defenceman
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The talented blueliner has signed for Bristol Pitbulls, and will swap the EIHL for the NIHL when the puck drops after the summer recess, but his departure will dismay Fife fans who saw him command a regular spot in the team last season - they voted him British player and most improved player of the year.
Cochrane had a more than solid first full season with his home town team after joining from Glasgow Clan midway through the 2021-22 campaign, and was one of only two local skaters to lace up - the other, James Spence saw much more limited ice time. Cochrane’s career has included GB honours and a pre-Copvid stint with Sheffield Steeldogs, and fans had hoped he would be a key part of the Fife blue line for the 2023-24 campaign.
Pitbulls coach, Jamie Elson said he had been coveting Reece’s signature for over a year.
He said, “I spoke to Reece at length last summer about Bristol and we were very keen to bring him down then, but the opportunity to play again at Elite league for Fife was there and he was keen to play at that level once again. We got talking again after the season finished and he was keen to look at the option of Bristol again - he is just what we need on our D core to help us improve going into next season. He skates well, battles and competes hard and really takes care of the D zone first. He’s still a young guy at 22 which is what we are about.”Cochrane added: “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the setup of the organisation, the city and the fans so that quickly drew my attention. All the conversations I’ve had with Jamie have been positive, he’s said about how great the city is, plenty to do during the day with a good nightlife. He’s trying to build a winning team and to do that you need to bring in the right people and I feel I bring what he’s looking for, people that are going to work hard in practice and leave it all on the ice come game day.”As Cochrane prepared to head south, Flyers issued a rare directors’ statement on the club’s website following feedback to the recently announced season tickets and match night admission costs - all of which went up. It’ll cost £22 to watch the team play next season - a rise of £3 - and while season tickets have gone up, they also offer three more games.
Criticism from some fans on social media centred on a lack of news about the team’s plans next season - a key decision for many before renewing after three tough seasons near the foot of the league - with Flyers yet to confirm their coaching set-up or any returnees other than netminder Shane Owen who was on a two-year deal.
A statement signed by directors Tom Muir and Jack Wishart said it was the support which “drives the club, both financially and in morale” adding: “Having a group of passionate fans at the rink each weekend is what makes Fife a desirable team for players.”
They said they understood the financial challenges facing fans in a cost of living crisis, and that was why they put the ticket prices out as early as possible to “give you time to make a decision on this investment to our club.”Explaining the first price rise in two seasons, they added: “It was a necessary decision for us to make to combat the rising costs of running a hockey club, including gas and electricity price hikes, visa cost increases, flight cost increases, equipment cost increases, and more. All of these expenses we know are crucial to ensure we have a strong, competitive club next season.
We know that many Flyers’ fans are looking to us for more information to be shared, and quickly. We can assure you that there are vital conversations ongoing behind the scenes and once coaching staff and recruiting information is finalised, we will be sure to share it with all of you.”And they pledged a summer of updates - a time of the year the club has often fallen silent in the past.
They added: “Our media team will stay active over the off-season and continue to share announcements as they come. These volunteers are also actively working to enhance our 2023-24 match-night experience for the fans – another improvement we are making based on your feedback.”The directors said sponsorship opportunities had been “revitalised” and a new-look website planned . They added: “We now look to you for your continued support and understanding while we work to build a competitive on-ice product for next season.”