This past Friday evening saw the Manchester Phoenix holding a ‘Homecoming Party’ for their fans at the Mercure Hotel in Manchester’s City Centre to give an update on the status of their new rink home to be based in the Eastlands part of the City, while also making two player announcements for the upcoming season for the Phoenix.
The evening started off with the Phoenix owner Neil Morris, firstly talking about one of the sides that have stuck with club through thick and thin and were praised for sticking to their guns and remaining part of the ‘Phoenix family’, with the Sledge side experiencing exactly the same problem as their bigger brothers this summer.
Problems have been ongoing for the Manchester side since the playoffs weekend of 2015, when a dispute had taken place between their previous tenants and Morris himself which led to a court case taking place. With all the legal battles going on, this has led to the club playing without a home of their own and having no home advantage as such, with games being played out of North Wales at the Deeside Ice Rink. Plans were announced a short time ago about having a new rink put in place for the start of the season and that it was close by to the Etihad Stadium and Sportscity area.
Morris then updated the fans on the state of play regarding the new rink at Eastlands by saying, that the new rink is part of a partnership with Manchester City Council and that the rink is a 5-year temporary building and will play their hockey there while they sort the permanent building. The bad news that came out of the meeting was that the scheduling on the venue has hit a delay, something that is not foreign to the side over the years for different reasons. With them trying to get the building up and ready for the start of the season, it has now been officially delayed by 6-8 weeks as extensive work will be done to the new rink to make sure it is fully functional. Plans for their short-term future are being discussed with Widnes or Blackburn looking the likely front-runners.
Plans and visuals of the new rink were shown to those in attendance on a big screen and had Neil Morris adding, “that maybe leaving Altrincham was a gift”, only time will tell if that comment is true. Talk then moved onto the actual team building for the new season and saw Tony Hand MBE addressing the fans on just that and told the fans that it was a hard situation the club found themselves in looking for new players. Hand commented, “uncertainty around the rink has made recruiting guys very difficult. With a lot of reassurances needed for the players to sign.”
He then added “the last 2 or 3 weeks has been much easier now that more details around the rink have come through.” Hand also said that there was some good British talent coming through and mentioned Greg Pick as one of those young players coming through. The Phoenix player-coach made reference to Pick’s physical play and noted that, “he was keen to improve as a player as well, and would be an asset to the side.”
Meanwhile at the event, it saw Neil Morris and Tony Hand teasing fans with further additions to the team and said “We’re talking to some guys. Maybe someone who’s played for us before”. The club then announced two new imports to ther side for next year, with both of them coming from the Czech Republic in the form of Roman Malinik and Jakub Langhammer, being revealed to the ‘Faithful’.
Malinik is a 26 year-old forward from Ostrava and saw the early part of his career playing at HC Vitkovice, as he started out for their U18 and U20 sides between 2004 and 2007. The Czech then headed to Canada in 2007 and where upon saw him being drafted in the first round of the CHL Import draft. Malinik was drafted at number 24 by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL. In 121 games for Baie-Comeau, it saw him registering 47 points as he scored 16 goals and 31 assists.
He returned back to his native land for the 2004-05 season and saw him rejoining his former club in HC Vitkovice, before fluttering between the Czech 2nd and 3rd divisions respective, with HC Frydek-Mistek and HC Dukla Hvlava. After two seasons with HC Dukla Hvlava, he then moved to HC Havlickuv Brod for a couple of years as well and saw him last year playing for HC Havirov in the Czech 2nd division and will now don the Phoenix jersey for next year.
The second new signing for the Phoenix, comes in the shape of 31- year old Left Winger Jakub Langhammer, as he joins the Manchester club from German side Saale Bulls Halle in DEL2. Langhammer started his career in the Czech junior leagues with his hometown club HC Kladno, before being picked up by HC Slavia Praha and made their U18 and U20 sides early on in his career. The experienced Czech man World his first medal with the U18 Czech side, claiming a World Junior Bronze Medal back in 2001-02 with the National side and as gone on to add two Czech league titles to his honours list too.
The Kladno-born player then spent two seasons with the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League in North America, before coming back to the Czech Republic and spent it mainly between HC Slavia Praha to which he won two straight Czech Extraliga Championships between 2005 and 2007, and his other side was HC Ceske Budejovice. Since 2014 however, Langhammer has spent his hockey in the German leagues with Eispiraten Crimmitschau and Dresdner Eislowen of the DEL2 and beside his previous club the Saale Bulls Halle, he also iced for EV Regensburg in the Oberliga or the third tier of German hockey.