HEAD coach Tony Hand has moved swiftly in making import forward Robin Kovar the first player to put pen to paper and return to the Manchester Phoenix for the new season.

Czech born Kovar was a key part of the teams title winning success last season turning in over 70 points, included 36 goals, in his first season in England after spells in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Netherlands and North America’s Western Hockey League.

While his goals were important to the team’s success in 2013/14, his excellent puck handling and passing abilities were the biggest assets to his game, chalking up over 40 assists.

Last season, coach Tony Hand utilised Kovar’s abilities on the powerplay and during penalty situations whilst he formed an important second line partnership with fellow Czech import Frantisek Bakrlik.

Kovar ended the season with two goals in the Playoff Final defeat to the Basingstoke Bison whilst he also netted the empty net goal that sealed their home ice win against the Bison that clinched the League title.

Robin said: “I really enjoyed my season here and the organisation is a good one to play for. It was great to win the championship and we were really unlucky not to win more trophies.

‘I was surprised at the number of minutes I iced and was very tired by the end of the season but I know what to expect now and will be ready for the challenge in September.”

Player coach Tony Hand said: “Robin had a very good season last time out and 70 plus points is a good return. He knows what to expect of the league and what is required and I am sure he will be a great asset again for us.”

While Kovar is the first to sign up for the new season, one player not returning is British utility player Richard Bentham. After two seasons, the 23 year old from Blackburn has decided to leave the club after managing to notch 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) on the third line last year.