ICE HOCKEY - Coventry Blaze captain Hamonic departs as three players confirmed for next season - The Coventry Observer

7th Aug, 2022

ICE HOCKEY - Coventry Blaze captain Hamonic departs as three players confirmed for next season

COVENTRY Blaze captain Justin Hamonic will remain in Canada for the 2022/23 camapign after it was confirmed he would not return to the club for the second year of his contract.

Hamonic has made the difficult decision to remain in North America and will support his fiancé Jenna who has been offered an excellent career opportunity which she wishes to pursue.

And despite committing to the club next season, centreman Mathew Thompson will also not be returning to the Blaze after a slower than expected recovery from injury.

Hamonic said: “On behalf of my partner, Jenna and myself, we would like to thank the entire Blaze organisation for an incredible two years.

“Coventry became a second home to us where we made some amazing friends and memories.

“From the front office staff to the coaching and off-ice staff, and to our teammates, you all made our experience one we will look back at fondly for many years.

“Finally, to the fans, you all made playing in the Skydome some of the most fun I’ve had in my hockey career.

“The atmosphere you created, and the support you showed us made it easy to leave everything I had on the ice.

“You all made us feel welcome from the day we signed and are a big part of the reason Coventry felt like a second home.

“So, for that, thank you and come on you Blaze!!”

Thompson said: “To everyone associated with the Blaze organisation, thank you for everything last year.

“I know it was a difficult year and I couldn’t be on the ice as much as I had hoped, but you still supported me every day and were there to help in any way.

“I hope the Blaze have a great season and give you all loads to cheer about because you guys deserve it!

“You’re amazing fans and great people!”

However, the club has offset these losses with the announcement of two new contracts and a new signing.

Former Kelly Cup winning defenceman Garrett Johnston is the first new name added to the Blaze roster for the 2022-23 season.

Johnston who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba, will play his first season in Europe when he joins the Blaze, having spent the entirety of his career in North America.

The Canadian iced for the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL last season contributing 11 assists in 49 regular season games, earning a call-up to the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks.

In the Growlers first season, which was Johnston’s debut as a professional, the franchise won the Kelly Cup beating the Toledo Walleye over six games.

During the playoff run, Johnston played a crucial role scoring seven points (one goal, six assists) in the 23 games.

In 2019/20 he was named the team’s defenceman of the season and was called up to play for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart said: “Garrett brings to us a great all-round game. He can be used as a shut-down guy, whilst also bringing good transition on and off the puck.

“He’s solid is all areas and will log quality minutes for us. He is a proven winner and competitor, and we are thrilled to get him.

“He’s been part of some great teams in Newfoundland, and his experience will be great for our group.”

And British forward Nathan Ripley has signed on a full-time basis after being on a two-way contract last season whilst Canadian Johnny Curran will return for a third season.

The news was revealed by Head Coach Stewart at a Booster club event for Coventry Blaze supporters at the Sky Blue Tavern.

Stewart said: “It’s another big blow for us in terms of losing a key player [Hamonic] in a key spot.

“Hammer was a rock back there and was a big part of our plans for this season. Again, although he will be tough to replace at this point, we respect his decision to support Jenna in her pursuit of a career.

“He will be greatly missed, and we wish him and Jenna both success next year, and long term.

“We were excited to get Thommo signed back up as we clearly missed his presence on the ice last season. Unfortunately, as his workouts intensified, his body didn’t react as initially thought.

“Thommo had to make the decision to pull out of his commitment and focus on his long-term health.

“Although a blow to us, and makes it tougher to replace him now, we 100% understand his decision and wish him the very best of health going forward.”

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