Manchester Phoenix player-coach Tony Hand has completed his first signings for the 2013-14 season by bringing back fan favourite Michal Psurny and snapping up imposing forward Frantisek Bakrlik.
Psurny (pictured) only joined Phoenix in a last-minute deal on the eve of last season but his 43 goals and 46 assists helped to fire the club to their first-ever EPL Playoff title and secured him a place in the league’s All-Star Team.
The Czech flyer, who started his career with his hometown club Ziln in the Extra Liga and has also had a spell in Canada’s Western Hockey League, told Phoenix TV that he was keen to return to the Altrincham Ice Dome.
“I really enjoyed last season and winning the playoffs was fantastic. I hoped Tony would want me back and it was an easy decision to say yes when he asked me,” he said.
“The club is great and the fans are the best in the league.”
Psurny has been joined on the roster for next season by compatriot Bakrlik, who spent the 2012-13 campaign with the Slough Jets.
At 6’5” and 210lbs, the 29-year-old power forward combines a tough, physical game with plenty of skill, as demonstrated by his statistics for last season. He finished as the EPL’s third top scorer with 48 goals and 34 assists in 53 games – and managed to clock up 161 penalty minutes.
After graduating from Litvinov’s U18 league in the Czech Republic, Bakrlik jumped the pond to play for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. He would switch between North America and his homeland for a few seasons before picking up league and cup winner’s medals in Poland.
He arrived in the UK in 2011-12 and played 65 games in the Elite League for Hull, Coventry and Fife until former Phoenix favourite Slava Koulikov brought him to the Jets.
Bakrlik told Phoenix TV: “Tony and I talked last season but were unable to conclude a deal. It was good to hear he was still interested. Coming to Manchester was an easy decision – I want to win medals.”
Commenting on his signings, Hand said: “Frankie will be great for Phoenix. He is big, strong and skilful and he will fit in really well on our small ice at Altrincham.
“I thought Michal was one of the best imports in the league last season. He is a great professional on and off the ice and a pleasure to work with. I think we will see even more from him this coming year as he now knows what the league is all about and I am looking forward to him moving on from the great year he has just had.”
By Andy Jowett