Flyers take Stock with new recruit

Fife Flyers latest signing Shayne Stockton
Fife Flyers latest signing Shayne Stockton

Fife Flyers have confirmed the signing of USA-born centreman Shayne Stockton.

The 26-year-old from Rochester, New York, joins the Kirkcaldy club following a successful season in France where he averaged more than a point per game for Amiens in the Ligue Magnus, the country’s top professional ice hockey league.

Previously, Stockton had a stand-out four years at the College of the Holy Cross in the NCAA, scoring 94 points in 131 games.

Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume believes his latest new recruit will not only deliver points, but at 6ft 2in and 216lbs, he will also bring a physical dimension to the spine of the team.

“He gives us a bit of size up the middle,” Dutiaume told the Press.

“The league is more physical so it’s important we have guys who are above that six foot mark who are not going to get pushed around and use their size to their advantage.

“He had a great year in France last year - averaging over one points a game - which was quite an attraction.

“We’ve talked about work ethic and compete level, and Shayne is going to add that to our line-up.

“Our hope is that he continues where he left off in France, and that his numbers keep going up.”

A shorter ice hockey season in France saw Stockton score 13 goals and 14 assists in 25 games, as well as an impressive six goals and four assists in eight play-off games.

Another key statistic for Flyers was his +/- figure in France - a statistic which compares a player’s goals for and against record - and Stockton’s figure was +19.

“It’s important to see that,” Dutiaume said.

“The +/- is not an official stat that our league takes, but it’s a very important stat.

“Players can sometimes say they had a four point weekend when in reality they had 5 or 6 against them.

“Sometimes people can hide away from that stat, but it’s one we’ll publish privately in our room to our guys.

“We want players that take pride in both ends of the ice this year and we’re hoping that pays dividends for us.

“Games over the last couple of years have tightened up and we need to find a way to with those games.”

Dutiaume is also encouraged by his latest signings’ low penalty count - Stockton spent just six minutes in the sin bin last season according to Elite Prospects.

“At times in previous seasons we’ve been hard hit by penalties,” Dutiaume added.

“It’s something we’re looking to improve upon with a little bit more disciplined line-up.

“We want a team that’s gritty and that won’t back down from anybody - but not in the box all the time.”

Chris Wands was also confirmed as a returnee for what will be his 12th season at Flyers after making his debut aged 15 in the old BNL back in 2005.

The 27-year-old, who won the club’s British Player of the Year title last season, has been given a rigorous work-out plan to follow during the summer and Dutiaume expects the D-man to return in good shape.

“We’ve said the same to all the Brits who will be returning this year,” Dutiaume said.

“They’ve had four years now in the EIHL to develop as players so it’s important they understand that they are considered veterans now.

“There’s no hiding behind lower expectations - they are expected to come in and be full-time contributors to the team night in, night out.

“Part of that involves following a comprehensive work-out plan over off season.

“I’ve made excuses for the guys in the past - it’s a tough task when you work full-time and play hockey and the demands on these guys are huge - but we’ve made it clear we expect them to be in the best condition they’ve been in during their career.

“The response we’ve had has been nothing but positive and as a coach that’s great to see.

“It shows the guys want it and want to prove to themselves that they can get even better.”

Meanwhile, Flyers will have new opposition next season as Hull Stingrays are being replaced in the Elite League by Manchester Storm.

Stingrays have folded due to a lack of funds while Storm have reformed to keep the EIHL at 10 teams.