Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume believes the club has retained one of its most committed players in the shape of long-serving Chris Wands.
The Kirkcaldy-born defenceman has signed on for an 11th consecutive campaign with his home town club, having made his debut aged 15 in the British National League in 2005.
Wands has had injury problems over the past 18 months and spent most of the second half of last term on the bench as Flyers surged towards the play-off finals weekend.
But head coach Dutiaume has been impressed by the 26-year-old’s determination to return next season and fight for this place.
“Chris is one of the veterans of the club and he takes great pride in the jersey,” Dutiaume said.
“He went through some difficulties in the second half of last season and didn’t get much game time with us. That hurt Chris - and it hurt me as well.
“He’s always been a part of the team I’ve coached so it was a very difficult decision for me to make, but looking back it was the right one, because we were very successful.
“It was unfortunate for him because in the past when the team has struggled he was the one stepping up to the bat and playing well for us.
“I spoke to Chris at the end of the season and he was down about it but was keen to come back and fight for his spot in line-up.
“He’s a proud boy and a good competitor. He knows the the club’s ambitions and that his personal ambitions and effort need to match that.
“We’ve given him some guidance over what he needs to do to play a regular role in our line-up.”
Wands has proved his worth in the EIHL before - he was voted the club’s Best British Player following the club’s debut EIHL season two years ago.
Dutiaume added: “As players we all have rough patches in our career and Chris has just had a blip.
“I don’t think he played badly, things were just working when we were rolling with five D-men so we stuck with it.
“He looked good in training, but during games it was difficult to piece him in sometimes.
“He’s hard on himself and he wants to play every night. He’s also a good competitor and is well-liked by all his team mates.
“If he was resigned to sitting on the bench then maybe we’d have to move on, but he’s shown he wants to fight to win that spot back.”
Flyers are also hoping to keep hold of key import forward Jordan Fulton amid suggestions that Braehead Clan are hoping to tempt him west.
Fulton was one of the top 10 forwards in the EIHL last season, scoring 80 points over 63 games, including 28 goals and 52 assists.
Dutiaume added: “We knew that Jordan was going to be a target for other teams in this country and abroad.
“You always have competition for a high calibre player of his type.
“All I can say is talks have gone well and he has indicated that he wishes to return to Fife.
“I can’t comment on what other teams say or do. They are entitled to talk to who they wish.
“Obviously it means we’re bringing in quality players who other teams want, and we view that as a compliment.”