The Steelers lurching from one financial trouble to another, the Stingray’s being rescued from the brink by Coventry, the Raiders moving to the ENL. British hockey is not at its best currently! The situation in Hull certainly, shows why Elite level hockey just cannot work in its current form. Now there are at least two set’s of owners with interest in a total of 4 clubs. Not healthy! But that’s a post for another time!
The purpose of this post was really to bring you up-to-date and give an outline of the new Phoenix squad for the up-coming season. One of the reasons this blog has been quiet over summer has been, yours truly and my better half have recently bought our first house together. So the house buying process has taken up much of my spare time. Going forward I should still be able to bring you game reviews after every home (and some away) games. But until we have moved in the house I’ll not have time to do much else!
So onto the new season………
The Phoenix inaugural season in the EPL exceeded all my expectations, a 3rd place finish, good cup run, and a first playoff final appearance for ages rounded off a great debut season. Lessons have now been learned and the new 10/11 squad looks to have more grit, determination and heart. I’ll be happy with a similar season again please, solidify our position as one of the top EPL teams, but I would like to start filling the trophy cabinet! Im not sure we will have a team capable of winning the league, but I do think a cup win is possible, and something we should aim for. Thing’s seem to be going ok for the club despite the downturn, there will be more season ticket holders this year, and plans for the new 2,800 seat rink have been given the go ahead, and demolition of the remaining on-site buildings should start soon. Things to be positive!
Onto the team….this year’s squad has retained some of the better players from the 09/10 campaign, while a better standard of import has been signed, overall, mind you! Fan’s favourite Jaakko Hagelberg has departed, but another from the frozen Nordic countries has come in. Full squad is as follows:
Number 30 – Adam Summerfield: Adam continues to develop, and when called upon performs brilliantly. His season for me, was capped when he had to stand in for Steve Fone for the best part of a month, and pulled off a brilliant win against eventual league champs the MK Lightning. Another season as back up will aid the young Congletonian no end, on the downside, as he continues to improve, come the end of the season he will want to become a starter in his own right!
Number 31 – Steve Fone: The Sheffield native raised a few eye brows when he signed as starter for the Phoenix. But has proved he has the makings of one of the best British goalies playing today. The 09/10 season showed, if helped out by his defence he can become nigh on unstoppable, but he can be horribly exposed at times, and needs to control his rebounds better. But I really thing this season could be a stellar one for Fone. He should have a better team in front of him….big difference!
Number 4 – Luke Boothroyd: Boot’s returns for another season, probably again as captain. Boots had a good season, not a great one mind! At times it seemed he struggled with the captaincy, but towards the end of the season he really began to lead the time. A slight player, but an intelligent hockey player, one who shows, you don’t have to be built like a brick outhouse to be a great defenceman! More maturity please Boots!
Number 15 – Ben Wood: A season of two halves for the tall man from Macc! Starting the season out of position on offence, Ben struggled to shine and get any ice time. A fact this blog had moaned about on numerous occasions through the season. However, when Tony moved Ben back to his more natural defence he began to shine, and command more ice time. Ben really developed and improved so much, he could well be the best poke-check’er on the team! It’s already apparent that Ben is becoming a fan favourite, one recent thread on the Phoenix forum, Ben Wood’s name will be adorning quite a few fan’s back’s this season! Ben really needs another full season on defence and he will become a top Brit d’man!
Number 6 –Ben Morgan: A new face for the Phoenix defence, the Sheffield native comes to Altrincham first his first season, after spending his career within the Sheffield youth system. This year Ben should be able to develop and become a star defenceman. One who should be a hot prospect for the GB set up too.
Number 40 – Pavel Gomeniyuk: Pavel comes to us from a good few seasons with the Newcaslte Vipers and Hull Stingrays and, in fact, had signed for the Steeldogs for the 10/11 season, before they got into some financial issues, and he jumped ship to Manchester. Pavel may not be a flashy defenceman but he is solid and dependable. He will add a wealth of experience to the Phoenix blue line, and will hopefully not be tempted to go walkabouts like Mattsson used to do!
Number TBA – Ladislav Harabin: The 29 year old Harabin comes to the Phoenix from the Slovakian league team HK Spisska Nova Ves. From the write up’s about this guy, he seems like the kind of D man im going to like! Aggressive, very competitive and he scores goals. Based on his point production he should put up a fair few points this year, and he’s not afraid to mix it up either.
On the forward line……
Number 8 – Greg Wood: Greg was a standout player for the Phoenix during the 09/10 season, a feisty little guy who was not afraid to get in the mix, and put up some decent points. Greg is one of the most talented young Brit players on the ice, some silky skills and great speed means he is one to hold onto for the future. Hopefully 10/11 season will hold more of the same for Greg!
Number 18 – Dean Holland: A driven young feisty player, is the kind of guy the Phoenix need. One of the things we lacked during the 09/10 campaign was the will to get dirty and grind out a result. Dean should bring some of those qualities to the Phoenix, coming to us from Newcastle, Dean will get in the corners and get in the goalies face creating havoc! Another fan favourite in the making?
Number 19 – Tom Duggan: It’s with a bit of fortune that the Phoenix signed Tom Duggan from the Guidlford Flames! Tom is starting a business degree in Sheffield, which opened the door for the Phoenix. Despite not getting the ice time he wanted with the Flames, Tom still managed 38 points in 60 games, a decent return in a team with a gazillion imports! Another grinder, Tom add’s to the more determined look of the Phoenix this season, I expect good things from this guy!
Number 12 – James Neil: James re-joins the Phoenix for his second season, after a good spell last term. James is one of those players who goes about his business quietly, but effectively. A great personality on and off the ice, James is a player who I’d be disappointed to loose! Welcome back James!
Number 14 – Stephen Wallace: A big favourite of mine! Captured from the Scimitars during the 09/10 season, Stephen is a skillfull and fast player. Putting up 20 points in 29 games for Sheffield, then 19 points in 16 games for the Phoenix, Stephen proved his worth, and was duly re-signed! I have even broke with tradition and decided to sponsor his stick’s for the coming season. Chuffed to have this guy back!
Number 39 – Curtis Huppe: The Canadian hot shot is here to fill the boots of the Phoenix sniper. Positions held by, Johan Molin/Joe Tallari/David Beauregard and Ed Courtenay. Huppe comes to the Phoenix with a proven pedigree. Having played with Tony at the Belfast Giants, Huppe has also iced for the Coventry Blaze and Hull Stingrays. Playing 221 games in the EIHL Curtis put up 254 points, Crutis will go straight onto the top line, no doubt with Tony Hand, so expect a career year for Huppe?
Number 2 – James Archer: A player snatched from the Stingrays after the Humberside club went under, James is a great young hockey player, and one who is set for a big career! James is seen to fill the void after Robert Farmer left for Canada, big things are expected. Another player with EIHL experience, James iced for the Coventry Blaze. A career year with the Scimitar’s James posted 52 points in 54 games! Looks exciting!
Number TBA – Marcus Kristoffersson: An NHL draftee for the Dallas Stars, and a Swedish Elite league winner with Djurgardens, Marcus comes to the Phoenix to fill the void left by Jaakko Hagelberg. A player who has played in the top leagues in Sweeden/Finalnd and in the AHL, Marcus looks to be a very exciting addition to the Phoenix roster. Marcus had spoken to his good friend Andre Mattsson who recommended he came to the Phoenix, Marcus is a hard working in-your-face kind of player. I wonder how many Hagelberg fan’s will switch allegiances to our new Nordic player?
The one that got away – Robert Farmer: The hottest young British player Robert Farmer was one of the first signings made by Tony Hand. It certainly created a lot of buzz around the Phoenix organisation. The 19 year old had EIHL experience, but had decided to continue his development under the British Great One, Tony Hand. Not long after joining the Phoenix, Famer got the call to go for a trial with the Dubuqu Fighting Saints in Iowa. As ever Tony was gracious enough to let Robert go for the trials. Knowing what an opportunity it could be for Farmer. It was about this time Phoenix plan’s for their imports were put on hold, as Farmer’s final destination would decided the make up of the import slots. Despite impressing both the Saints staff, and NHL scouts in attendance, Robert would not be playing in Iowa. Luck would be kind to Robert and he was drafted 44th in the Canadian Hockey League draft and will now play for the Ottawa 67’s. So the Phoenix have lost a potential star, but Robert could well go on to bigger and better things in North America. Good luck Robert!
Ottawa 67’s fan blog - http://ottawa67s.blogspot.com/2010/08/getting-to-know-robert-farmer.html