DANNY Stewart says Newcastle Vipers will carry on fighting for a play-off spot despite the ‘massive blow’ of losing leading scorer Jamie Carroll.
Carroll, who has eight goals and 20 assists to his name, has been Vipers’ standout player this season but has now accepted an offer to move Stateside and join a Central Hockey League outfit.
The forward will not be involved in the games against Edinburgh Capitals tonight and Coventry Blaze tomorrow.
Player-coach Stewart said: “It’s a massive blow to lose Jamie.
“He is our leader on the powerplay and really bonded with all the guys. Unfortunately with the uncertainty around the club, other teams have been contacting him for a month and he has made the decision to leave.
“Although it’s tough on the guys and myself, Jamie expressed how sorry he felt, but as it may be his last year of playing he was offered the chance to play in a very good place in the Central League.
“He didn’t want to let the window close while our future was unknown, and I can understand that.
“I wish Jamie the very best back in America, and thank him for what he’s done here in Newcastle.”
Vipers host Edinburgh at Whitley Bay this evening (7pm) knowing that a win would see them leapfrog the Capitals and climb off the foot of the table.
Stewart said: “That would be a big psychological boost for us, but more than anything it’s the boost you get from winning games that we need.
“We are still in with a chance of finishing in the play-offs, and if we can do that it would be a huge achievement considering the situation the club is in.”
Tomorrow night sees Stewart come up against his old club Coventry at the SkyDome Arena.
Stewart said: “I’m looking forward to that one.
“It will be even better if we are able to go there having already beaten Edinburgh.”