Fife Flyers hopes of retaining a core of last season’s team took another step forward this week when Ned Lukacevic signed on for next season.
The 28-year-old from Montenegro joined Flyers midway through last season and proved a big hit after posting 44 points from 34 games during a run that took the Kirkcaldy side to the play-off semi-finals.
Lukacevic (28) is the third import, after netminder Kevin Regan and associate coach Danny Stewart, to commit to the club next season, and head coach Todd Dutiaume is delighted to bring back the skilful forward.
“Ned expressed a keen interest in coming back,” Dutiaume said.
“He was with us for a short period of time, and his signing co-incided with a turnaround in fortunes for the club.
“He averaged over a point per game and was one of the most offensively gifted individuals on the team.
“We’re delighted to bring him back.”
Lukacevic provided some memorable moments last season including a stunning back-hand effort against Dundee Stars, and a sensational assist for a Matt Reber goal against Edinburgh Capitals.
However, he was also guilty of moments of madness, such as taking needless penalties at bad times, and Dutiaume will hope to eradicate that side of his game once the action restarts in September.
“It was more than just flashes of brilliance,” Dutiaume insisted. “He can really influence a hockey game when he’s on it.
“If he finds a way to consistently bring that all the time, he’ll make us a better team. He just need to bring that intensity every night.
“When he’s good, things happen and that line really put up big numbers second half of the season.”
Dutiaume believes that Lukacevic has the ability to become of the top point scoring forwards in the EIHL.
“It will come down to that consistency,” he said. “He’s has it in him to be one of the top forwards in the league.
“He’s very smart and crafty with the puck and is capable of putting up numbers every night.
“Hopefully we’ll get the right guys with him and he should be among the top scorers in league.”
Lukacevic himself is delighted to have settled in Fife after spending the previous two years jumping between seven different clubs.
“I’m very excited to be back with the Flyers organisation for another year,” he said. “The Flyers and the whole community of Kirkcaldy are like a second home to me.
“I’m particularly excited to pick up where we left off last season and bring that same type of success to this season. I think we had a great group of guys last season, I really enjoyed being part of that team and made some great friends.
“I think we had a real dynamic in the room towards the end and it was just such a great feeling.I would like to see a lot of the guys back again next season, to create a real core.
“I am excited about next season and want to challenge for silverware.”