COVENTRY Blaze welcome back 32-year-old Canadian netminder Kevin Nastiuk for the 2018/19 Elite League season.
The 6ft 1in shot-stopper played in 56 regular season games over the past campaign, posting a save percentage of 90 per cent.
Also appearing in five Challenge Cup and two play-off games, the Edmonton native who combined playing with study at Coventry Business School was voted Best Defensive Player, Players’ Player of the Season, and picked by head coach Danny Stewart as his Player of the Year.
Nastiuk, who became a hugely popular figure within the Blaze organisation, joined from Dresdner Eislöwen of Germany’s DEL2 where despite missing some time of the 2016/17 season due to a broken thumb, he impressively posted a league best save-percentage (93.78 per cent) and goals-against-average (1.99) among all regular starting goalies.
In total, the left-hand catcher spent four years in the DEL2, three with Dresdner Eislöwen and a single season with Heilbronner Falken, amassing 166 regular season and playoff games.
Nastiuk’s time in Germany was also spent in the DEL, the country’s top-division where over three campaigns with Eisbären Berlin, he helped the club to back-to-back Championships in 2010/11 and 2011/12, plus a European Trophy in 2011.
His experience in Berlin also extended to two games in the Champions Hockey League.
“Nasti was one of our main targets as soon as the season ended,” said Stewart.
“He was instrumental in our second half run and gave us a chance to win each and every night.
“It’s always an adjustment coming to this league for the first time, and I thought he handled it well.
“It’s a big workload for a starter, and the consistency he brought all year is a testament to the competitor he is.
“He’s a gamer, and wants to win every night. I think we will see an even better year out of him next season and we’re thrilled to have him back.”