Stewart strengthens squad as Forsbacka leaves

DANNY Stewart has urged his four new recruits to use Newcastle Vipers as a “showcase”, but the latest player to leave would be well advised to steer clear of Tyneside for a while.

Danny Stewart

DANNY Stewart has urged his four new recruits to use Newcastle Vipers as a “showcase”, but the latest player to leave would be well advised to steer clear of Tyneside for a while.

Finnish forward Patrik Forsbacka’s departure was announced as Andy Finn, Matt Sellers, Daniel Pye and Callum Davies arrived.

It is debatable whether the squad is stronger for the reshuffle – Stewart’s search for two further additions perhaps answers the question – with Forsbacka an experienced import and English National League side Northern Stars continuing to have first call on the youthful quartet.

All have joined on the same two-way arrangement Newcastle have with Whitley Warriors for Adam Reynolds. Whenever there is a fixture clash, the player turns out for the supposedly lesser club.

There are, however, doubts about how much longer the Stars can continue after experiencing similar problems to their former parent club.

The Stars stayed at Newcastle Arena when the Vipers left but have not played there since October and will not do so again this season. It could leave Finn, Sellers, Pye and Davies looking for new clubs.

“They can showcase themselves to not only me, but other coaches in the country,” Vipers' player-coach Stewart explained.

“It also gives us extra bodies, not only for games but also training.

“All these guys are just coming through. Getting on the ice is probably the most important thing for them.

“If these kids prove they’re capable they will get their chance, just as others have. You want to ease them in slowly though because it’s quite a jump from the ENL to the Elite League. I’ve seen a little bit of them but I’m going more on people I trust.” Stewart has signed a number of ENL players with mixed success, so his expectations are realistic.

“It would definitely be a success for us if two came through,” he said. “I’m just expecting them to be reliable and dependable on the ice. I don’t expect them to lead the league on scoring.”

All but Davies are defencemen, and both he and Pye have represented the Vipers before, the latter in last season’s famous win in Belfast. The quartet are expected to make debuts in Braehead on Saturday, with the return the next day. It will not stop Stewart’s European-wide recruitment drive.

“The news that we’re going to see things through until the end of the season is good news but we can’t go out and get top-end players in,” he admitted.

“I’m hoping for two (more) players but it depends on what kind of deals you find. It could be bumped up to three.

“We will be looking at guys on this side of the Atlantic, in the EPL, ENL, the Elite League or Europe. It’s that time of year when there’s transfers going on everywhere.

“We’re looking everywhere to find the right type of deal. You don’t want to bring people in who will disrupt things.”

The Vipers lost their third player in a week when Forsbacka followed Jamie Carroll and Dale Mahovsky out the door.

General manager Jaimie Longmuir received an email the day after Forsbacka’s hat-trick in Coventry informing them he was leaving, for a Danish club.

“Each individual departure was handled in a different way,” commented Stewart.

“Carroll was nothing but professional. He gave me advance notice a couple of weeks earlier that he was considering his options. He felt it might be his last year as a player, and this might lead to something next year.

“Mahovsky is a young kid and that was kind of a surprise but he’s got to do what he’s got to do. The contracts here are less tight than in North America.

“Forsbacka wasn’t handled very professionally. It kind of left the guys hanging out to dry. Sometimes when you face adversity you find people’s true colours.”



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