By Kris Smith
Philippe Sanche and Toms Rutkis played key roles in the last season’s campaign that saw the Stars clinch seventh place in the Elite League and knock-out heavyweights, Sheffield Steelers in the playoff Quarter-Finals, but the pair have returned to the City of Discovery looking to go even further than their run to the Semi-Finals last year.
Meanwhile, Fabrizio Ricci has also re-joined the team following a three-year spell in North America and the Canadian is ecstatic to be back in Dundee and helping the team push for more success this year.
Speaking about his return to Scotland, Ricci said: “It is always good to be back, I got a great welcome once again and the room looks great after getting renovated, Kit-Kat did a great job of that and it always good to see the Ward family too and some of the guys who were here during my first season.
“So, I am definitely looking forward to the season and when I was here before the fans were awesome and that is what drew me back.
“Now, we have an even bigger fanbase and the organisation did a good job to continue growing and it is always a pleasure to be playing in the DIA.”
The 27-year-old winger is also playing under a new head coach this time and discussing the change, Fabrizio added: “Jeff is awesome, he had big shoes to fill with Omar and he did it and has put together a great team.
“He is a great guy with a lot of experience with Belfast and a winning team, so he has a winning mentality and he is going to bring those tendencies here and for all the young guys that we have, he is going to be a great coach and role model for them and he can bring us success this season.”
Fellow Canadian, Sanche had a standout year last season and across 58 games, he racked up 28 goals and 26 assists, which earned him a spot on this year’s roster.
Now the second-year pro is hungry for more success and is happy to back be back in Dundee and doing what he loves.
Sanche said: “I am really excited, we have a great group of guys again this year and I am just excited to get back on the ice and do what I love again.
“We achieved a lot of good things last year but it is always the goal to keep improving and like I said, we have a great group of guys, Jeff is a great coach and we will definitely push for better results, especially here at home in front of the fans.”
Philippe then revealed why it was an easy decision to continue his hockey career with the Stars, he explained: “It was the fans.
“I just loved it all and especially at the end of the year when it was a packed house and how they showed up after COVID and they made it really fun for us and I am just excited to be playing in front of them again this year.”
Finally, Latvian-born-Brit, Rutkis has shared his delight to be on Tayside once again and is feeling comfortable with his new coach and teammates.
Toms said: “I am very happy to be back, I really enjoyed my time here last year.
“We ended up having a pretty good season, it could have been better but we ended up making the playoffs and doing well, so I am looking forward to getting going again and having more success this year.
“Now we have a very different team and a new coach, but it is very exciting and even though we have only been on the ice for two days, it is easy to see that jeff is a great coach.”
The two-time Elite League Playoffs winner also shared what he loved most about his time with the club last season, stating: “The biggest thing was probably the club and the people here.
“I also loved city and Scotland is a great place to live, so I am delighted to be here for another year.”