Deeside Dragons last night swooped to bring fans’ favourite Chris Jones back to the club.
The sharp-shooter returns to the Deeside Ice Rink after two successful seasons with Blackburn Eagles.
Dragons player-coach Scott McKenzie said: “When I found out that Chris was available I was really keen to get him signed up for the new season.
“He is what I would call a skilled agitator.
“Chris is a speedy forward that goes to the dirty areas and teams do not like to play against him because of this gritty style.
“I really think Chris can have an impact in our line up and it is great to have someone back in the fold that lives so locally.”
Dragons supporters will need no introduction to Jones.
He came through the Flintshire Freeze youth ranks before going on to score 111 goals and provide 62 assists for the senior side.
In December 2011 Jones joined Telford Titans where he netted 38 goals and laid on a further 21.
The forward moved back to Deeside to sign for the Dragons – the name given to the rebranded Freeze - before the start of the 2013-14 season.
Jones picked up where he had left off with 49 goals and 39 assists in 55 games before making the switch to Blackburn in July 2015.
The 29-year-old fired the Eagles to the NIHL North Two Laidler Conference last season with 21 goals and 17 assists in 25 league matches.
And now Jones cannot wait to don the Dragons jersey again in the new-look and strengthened NIHL North One Moralee Conference.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to returning to the Dragons and playing with some old friends again and also getting to know the more recent players that are now a part of the Dragons.
“I love playing hockey at Deeside and I can’t wait to be back at the Den playing in front of the great fans.
“The bond between players and fans is great and it really helps on and off the ice.
“I think the new league set up is going to be very challenging for us but the team is getting stronger every season and hopefully we will be up there competing throughout the season.”
Late last week the Dragons re-signed rising stars Louis Morgan and Jonah Armstrong.
Netminder Armstrong and defenceman Morgan made their breakthrough into the senior side last season.
McKenzie, who last month re-signed Andy Chappell and Gav Austin, said: “Jonah played a lot more games than anticipated last season but when in between the pipes he held his own and certainly earned his spot.
“He is a natural talent but works incredibly hard to improve on his ability. We are lucky to have such a hot prospect within our programme.
“Louis is a no-nonsense D-man. He plays the physical side of the game extremely well and with a little work I believe he can be a top-end defenceman in the NIHL North One.
“Not many forwards enjoy playing against him. He really took his opportunity when provided with it last season and, at still only 16, there is a lot of development to come.
“Both of these players are young, hungry and willing to learn – and that is a combination that I love to work with.”
The duo, who are both Under-17s Conference winners, will also practise with the Dragons’ U18s and all-new NIHL North Two teams next season.
Louis said: “Last season was my first season in the senior system and it was an amazing year for me and the Dragons and that’s why I’m glad to be back in the Dragons shirt this season.”
Armstong added: “I’m really happy to be back in a Dragons shirt. Last year I was given a great opportunity by Scott to play a lot of games in my first year of national league hockey and I’m very grateful for that.
“With this coming season, I’m looking forward to a high level of competition entering the Den, with the addition of teams dropping down from the EPL. I think the standard will help improve Dragons hockey and I’m looking forward to establishing myself in the league to help the Dragons get the wins.”
Meanwhile, the Dragons held their family fun and end-of-season awards day at Deeside Leisure Centre on Saturday.
The senior Dragons awards went to Filip Supa (best forward, players’ player of the year), Armstrong (young player of the year), James Parsons (coach’s player of the year), Ross Kennedy (best defenceman) and Andy Chappell (unsung hero).