The Wightlink Raiders can confirm they have signed former Elite League forward Jiri Hanzal for the new season. The 27 year old Czech centreman played for Edinburgh Capitals and Telford Tigers last season and will replace Jimmy Chiripoulos as the Raiders second import. The Raiders have made the decision not to sign Chiropoulos after failing to establish exact stats from his playing days in Canada.
Jiri Hanzal is 6’4 and 208lbs and is the brother of NHL forward Martin Hanzal. Prior to a season in the UK he played for Dunkerque in France as well as playing several seasons in his native Czech Republic. In his time at Edinburgh Capitals last season he made 45 appearances scoring 17 points with 50 penalty minutes.
Speaking about his new import player coach Jeremy Cornish says he has the credentials to make an immediate impact at this level.
“He has great size and do very well in our little rink. He has big shoes to fill with Joe Rand not coming back, but he is looking forward to the challenge of being a first line centre for our club. He has played a number of years in the Czech 2nd league and that league is of a much higher standard than the NIHL. Jiri knows the pressure is on his shoulders to perform every game for us and I look forward to working with him this season.”
On the decision not to sign his original import Cornish says certain things came to light that didn’t add up.
“After agreeing terms certain discrepancies appeared with his stats which neither he or his agent could explain. So in the best interests of the club we decided to explore other options. We have spent a lot of time and effort ensuring we sign the best import and I am confident we now have someone who is the right fit for the team and the club. “