Two Brits return '“ but no enforcer for Flyers
Back-up netminder Craig Douglas this week became the first confirmed British signing made by Fife Flyers for the upcoming Elite League campaign.
He was closely followed this morning with the announcement that defenceman Chris Wands will also return for season 2016-17.
More Brit signings from the local talent pool are expected in the coming days as the countdown continues towards the new season, which starts with the double-header exhibition games against German side EC Peiting on August 27 and 28.
One more import signing, a defenceman, is also expected to be confirmed shortly taking the Kirkcaldy club up to the maximum 14 permitted by the EIHL.
While Douglas will provide back-up to Shane Owen, the new import goalie, Wands will hope to earn regular ice time as a third line D-man in his 12th season with the club.
Head coach Todd Dutiaume said: “Wando is a big part of the British contingency that we have here in Fife.
“He’s good in the room and well-liked by his peers.
“He needs to work for his spot on the team, but he’s aware of this and I have no doubt he will dig deep and get on with it.”
Dutiaume admitted, however, that there will be less ice time available for British players this season as he plans to run 14 imports across three lines.
“We strictly do not have the depth or budget to run four lines,” he said. “That is just a reality of Fife.
“I’ve spoken to a couple of other Brits from around the league, and I’ve been reminded that the reason this club is in Kirkcaldy is that they want to provide a place for local talent to come through. It’s getting increasingly difficult.”
Dutiaume has also confirmed his decision to run without an out-and-out enforcer this season, which may disappoint fans hoping to see another Matt Nickerson-type character at the club.
“You make your decisions one way or the other and the decision has been made to go down this line,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ll have guys that are afraid to go on the ice and get stuck in.
“Dingle played against a number of boys bigger than him and never shied down from a challenge.
“Once we really gelled together around the November mark it was never an issue, except for maybe in a tight building in Cardiff at times. We have a big pad here where we can play to our skill and speed.
“ If it becomes apparent that it has to be addressed, and if it will make us a better hockey club, it will happen, but we have to be confident in the place we’re at.
“We’ve gone through the enforcer role, and it was great for us, and put more bums on seats, because everyone wants to have a beer, see their hockey team beat somebody up and win.
“But at that time we were also in ninth place. Last year we put together a succesful club without that muscle - and moved up the charts and tied for the top of conference.
“Teams will move in other directions - we are going in the direction we feel fit, and we won’t hesitate to make a change if need be.”