Fife Flyers’ forward Bari McKenzie returns to home town to join Solway Sharks

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Fife Flyers’ popular forward Bari McKenzie has left the club to join his home town team, Solway Sharks, as it prepares for a major step up to the NIHL National Division next season.

The move takes the veteran skater’s long career full circle to Dumfries where he played his junior hockey, but it means Fife have now lost the two British players who commanded regular spots last season. Defenceman Reece Cochrane has already signed for Bristol Pitbulls, and will also ice in the NIHL next season.

McKenzie was a fans’ favourite with his commitment on the ice, and the connections he forged off it.

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He is one of the most experienced British skaters in the EIHL with over 700 games under his belt in a career spanning back to Basingstoke Bison in 2003-04. The sport has taken him to eight separate top flight clubs, including Coventry and Belfast as well as being the only player to kit up for all four Scottish sides, Fife, Edinburgh Capitals, Dundee Stars and Glasgow Clan.

He came to Kirkcaldy from Clan for the 2018-19 season and was always one of the first players announced as a summer signing.

McKenzie signed off with a tweet thanking the club for all its support: “Todd, Jeff, my teammates, staff and the fans - thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made the last four years memorable for me and my family and I’ll miss you all. I wish you all the best in the future.”

In an interview with his new team, he also outlined his journey back to the south west of Scotland - and its ambitions as it steps up to be part of a national league.

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“I always said I’d come to Dumfries when the time was right, and, after speaking to the club, it’s the right time. It will be good to part of this journey,” he said. “I have watched from afar as they have been so been so dominant in the north, and the jump this summer will be massive, especially for the players who have not played in this league before.I hope to bring some leadership and guidance, and help them to transition to higher level where it will be faster and more physical.

Bari McKenzie is the second British skater to depart the club this summer (Pic: Derek Young)Bari McKenzie is the second British skater to depart the club this summer (Pic: Derek Young)
Bari McKenzie is the second British skater to depart the club this summer (Pic: Derek Young)

“The vision is not just to make numbers up but to challenge, At the end of my career I want to win something, and to win that with Dumfries would be something see. These are exciting plans for Sharks and Dumfries as a whole trying to get more people engaged with the club and sport in the town.”

Sharks have become the 11th team to be part of the Planet Ice NIHL National Division with the club under new owners John Strange, Phil Reilly and David McCarroll.

In a statement, they said, “We are excited to showcase our talent on this national stage and look forward to the season ahead. We have worked hard to ensure we will be a sustainable operation and can’t wait to get started for our first season at National level.”

Sharks won the NIHL Division 1 playoff title last year, and their inclusion in the league is expected to bring a new dimension to the competition.