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Friday, August 27, 2010

Season Preview: – Newcastle Vipers

A change of direction for the Vipers this season, as long standing coach Rob Wilson moves on to pastures new, Coventry’s Danny Stewart takes over as player/coach. On the playing front too there has been a near total clearout of last seasons roster including top Brit David Longstaff and Ben Campbell.

GOAL
Charlie Effinger joins from the CHL as new starting goalie for the Vipers. Effinger is part of what seems a growing trend this year of teams signing relatively young players with limited pro experience. His stats look good, but with only a couple of seasons to go on, we will have to wait and see how he compares to some of the more established pro’s.  Liam McAllister moves up from the Whitley Warriors in the ENL to backup the Vipers.

DEFENCE
Kyle Sibley joins the Vipers after a couple of seasons in Norway, and judging by his stats should add an offensive punch to the Vipers D.  Blair Stayzer, John Schwarz and Scott Langdon should help solidify the Vipers blue line with Stayzer and Schwarz providing some toughness too. Brits Sam Zajac and Rob Wilson step up from the EPL and ENL respectively to complete Newcastle’s defensive unit.

FORWARDS
The only returnees from last years squad are Brits Jamie Tinsley and Nathan Salem. Both give depth the the Vipers roster and will be joined by fellow Brit Paul Sample who comes out of retirement. If he can return to previous form Sample should give the Vipers a hard working, solid 3rd liner, but like with the rest of the Vipers British contingent, he is likely to add little of a scoring threat.  Jaroslaw Rzeszutko joins from Poland. Difficult to judge what sort of impact he is likely to have having never played outside his home country, but he has a track record of scoring there and scored three goals in last seasons world championships at the same level as the GB team, so should fit in ok. Could prove a hidden gem. Player coach Danny Stewart is more of a know quantity and will give the team a strong utility player. Jamie Carroll joins from the IHL where he has strong history of putting points on the board, Vipers will be hoping he can have a similar impact in the EIHL. Fellow newcomers Dale Mahovsky and Dan Speer come to Newcastle straight out of University so are some what unknown quantities. Neither look to have been big scorers in the past, though previous players have shown that isn’t necessarily how things will pan out when they turn pro.

SUMMARY
Vipers still have a few signings to make, which judging by their roster at present will probably be forwards. The team being almost entirely new could be either a good or bad thing. If they can click as a unit from the off they could surprise teams and get off to a good start.  On the other hand with no team core continuity from last year, if the team take time to gel they it could leave them with a lot of ground to catch up with other teams. How strong the Vipers will be will depend on their final signings. Not as strong as the top teams at the back, they still look solid, but lacking in goals going forward. A couple of top scorers in their final signings could be the difference between a mid table finish or battling for the wooden spoon.

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