The Bears fill their roster for the new EBEL season. After the goaltender Vilim Rosandić, defensemen Tomaš Kudelka and Yann Sauve, and forwards Mike Aviani, David Brine, Ivan Janković, Sondre Olden and Mario Puskarich confirmed their return to Zagreb, for the next season the team will also be reinforced with three more defensemen.
Ivan Puzić is well known to Medveščak's fans, while Antonin Manavin from Hungarian Fehervar and Kyle Hardy from French Grenoble arrive as fresh reinforcements.
A familiar face in the Den, Ivan Puzić joined the Bears in the beginning of 2018, in the midst of the Bears' return season in EBEL. The young Croatian defensemen with years of international professional experience in the Czech Republic arrived to Medveščak on loan from HC Vitkovice. He played for Vitkovice also in Hockey Champions League, and so became the first Croat to take part in Hockey Champions League. Last season he played 16 games in Medveščak's jersey, 10 in the regular season and 6 in playoffs, and scored 3 points with 3 assists.
“We reached an agreement with Ivan Puzić to stay another season in Zagreb. Ivan came in and played some very solid hockey for us last year and this gives us another local heritage player that can play at this level and continue to develop his game. We are very happy to find a way to bring him back”, said Aaron Fox, Medveščak's sports director.
A new name on Medveščak's roster for the next EBEL season is going to be the Canadian Kyle Hardy. He arrives to Zagreb from Grenoble, France, where he played last two seasons. His hockey skills are clearly visible with a glance on his statistics. As a defenseman, in the last two seasons, 2016/17 and 2017/18, for Grenoble he played total of 117 games and scores equal (117!) number of points, with 41 goals and 76 assists. Before Grenoble he also played in France, for Dijon (2011-2013) and Chamonix (2013-2015). He temporarily spent one season - 2015/2016 - in Scandinavia, playing for Swedish Tingryds and Ostersunds, and in Britain where he played 10 games for Nottingham Panthers. From 2011 to 2015 he regularly played in the French Cup that he won in 2011/12 with Dijon, and again in 2016/2017 with Grenoble. In 2017/2018 season he played in the Continental Cup with Grenoble. Before arriving to Europe, he played in the Canadian QMAAA League for West Island Lions (2003-2005), and in American USHS-Prep and NCAA leagues (2005-2011).
“Kyle is coming off a year which saw him lead all defenseman in scoring in French League regular season, and he was the top overall scorer from all players in Playoffs. He’s a smooth skating offensive defenseman who should be effective joining the rush and also help us on the powerplay. He plays very physical, and battles hard for his size”, said sports director Fox.
The French player Antonin Manavian comes to Zagreb from not so distant and to Medveščak's fans well known Hungarian Fehervar, where he played last three seasons, from 2015 to 2018. Since Fehervar did not reach the playoffs in none of the three seasons, Manavian played 122 regular games, scoring 55 points, 23 goals and 32 assists. Before arriving to Hungary, this corpulent 31bn-year-old defenseman, with an extraordinary height of 191 cm, made his career mostly in Europe, and to the less extent in North America. He started his hockey career in Rouen, France, where he later returned through five seasons. Along with Rouen, he played for the other French teams, Le Havre, Grenoble and Angers. In Canada he played in QMJHL League for Acadie-Bathurst Titan and Gatineau Olympiques, and in the US for Bakersfield Condors in ECHL league. Just like Hardy, Manavian also won French national championship! He won his two French champion titles with Grenoble, and three with Rouen, where he also played in the Continental Cup in 2011-2012.
Aaron Fox announced Manavian's arrival with the following words: „Antonin is a big right shot d-man who skates very well and has a lot of EBEL experience. He played top pair minutes (25-26 min) per game with French National Team this year. He will bring a solid two way game and complement Yann and Kudelka in our top 4.”
The players will join the team for the preparations for the new season, in August this year.