Nottingham Panthers and new Head Coach, Jonathan Paredes are busying themselves for the new, EIHL season later this year, securing the services of both Mike Caruso and Stephen Anderson, whilst also signing Finnish forward, Otto Nieminen, from Odense Bulldogs, in Denmark.
Of the three, the returning stars will no doubt delight the Panthers faithful, both players having appeared a number of times last time around for the Motorpoint Arena side, whilst the signing of Nieminen will certainly light a fire.
Defenceman Caruso, now 34, made 51 appearances in all competitions following his arrival from Italian side, HC Pustertal Wolfe, he having also enjoyed two spells in the NHL, both the Florida Panthers, as he built an extensive wealth of ice knowledge.
Meanwhile, Anderson, a 28-year-old forward, netted seventeen times, with fifteen assists, last time around having arrived in Nottingham following spells in Canada, Slovakia, and Denmark, where he pulled on the Aalborg Pirates jersey.
Speaking of their staying in Nottingham, Caruso said: “I am thrilled to be back as I really enjoyed my time in Nottingham last season.
“I feel like we have some unfinished business so I am very much looking forward to returning and doing everything we can to get this team back on the winning track.
“Nottingham is a very family-friendly place. We love where we live, the city and the people were very welcoming. In the terms of places I have been in the past 15 years, Nottingham is one of my favourites.
“We want to get this team back to winning ways and win trophies, as that is my main goal in this last stage of my career. There is so much potential for this organisation.”
Reiterating the sentiments of his teammate, Anderson added: “”I’m very excited to be back in Nottingham for another year.”
“The on-ice success wasn’t where the fans, players or anyone wanted it last year.
“What is bringing me back is the amazing fan support, the rink and the city – they are all spectacular. I want to come back and be part of a team that turns this thing around.”
And then there was the recently-announced, new signing, Finland’s former U20 international forward, Otto Nieminen, who joins the Panthers having been the top scorer in the Danish league last time around with 25 goals for Odense Bulldogs.
Nieminen, at 27-years-old, brings with him a wealth of Scandinavian ice knowledge following a number of years in both the Finnish, and Danish ice leagues, along with a recent spell in Slovakia with HK Spisska Nova Ves, where he bagged fifteen goals and fifteen assists in his one season.
The Finnish winger might be a name recognised by staunch, Panthers fans, especially those in attendance when creating history and becoming the first British side to qualify for the last sixteen of the 2017/18 Champions League.
October 2017 would see the Panthers defeat Turku, 2-0, whom, amongst their ranks, was Nieminen, at the Motorpoint Arena.
Recalling that night back in 2017, Nieminen said: “I remember the great atmosphere, a lot of fans and the rink was great.
“We lost that game which wasn’t so good, but the things I remember about the rink were great.”
As for joining the Panthers, the Finnish forward was a little more optimistic, adding: “I am really looking forward to be joining Nottingham and I am ready to start the season already.
“I have been doing a lot of research and I’m very excited. I want to bring speed to the team, it’s what I do.
“That’s a huge part of my game and I can’t wait for my next challenge in the Elite League.”
For Panthers HC, Paredes, the addition of Nieminen is certainly an intentional, and exciting one; the Frenchman, who only took the hot-seat at the Panthers in mid-April adding: “Otto is a natural goal-scorer.
“A player that plays the right way and is relentless around the net where he scores a lot of goals.
“His work ethic and passion are extremely high on and off the ice and he competes at all times.
“I know he had interest from many higher leagues but we are glad he chose to become a Panther.”
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*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @PanthersImages Finnish international Otto Nieminen signs for the Panthers.