Veteran coach Kevin McClelland is tough and old school so he doesn't gush, but he came awfully close when talking about newly signed Matt Hubbauer, a speedy center expected to be an impact player for the Wichita Thunder.
McClelland went so far as to call Hubbauer "unbelievable" before adding that he didn't want to go overboard with the praise.
"He's very fast, has tons of skill, and he's very crafty," McClelland said. "He's gonna be a great pickup for us."
The 5-foot-9 Hubbauer, who has spent the last four years playing overseas, had 25 goals and 49 points in 45 games for the Sheffield Steelers of the Elite Ice Hockey League.
Prior to that season, he scored 71 goals and 129 points in 143 games during a four-year span in Germany.
The Thunder, hoping to recover from last season's 9-50-5 finish, has also added veteran forward Aaron Davis and re-signed goalie Ian Keserich.
Last season, Davis, who has played the past seven seasons in the Central Hockey League, posted career bests in games (64), assists (47), and points (67) for the Tulsa Oilers. In 2007-08, Davis had 21 goals in 48 games for the Mississippi RiverKings, then coached by McClelland.
McClelland loves Davis' consistency.
"He can play the power play, he can play the penalty kill, take a regular shift, and he's a great guy in the locker room, too," McClelland said.
Keserich is considered a much better goalie than last year's numbers (1-19-1, 3.71 GAA, .900 SP) would indicate. He played for McClelland in Mississippi in 2007-08 and finished 13-7-1.
He earned himself an AHL contract while he was in Mississippi," McClelland said. "We've got to get him to that form again.
"He's obviously a goaltender who can log a lot of minutes. And when he's on, he's on."