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New Musketeer Fills Chapman Void

Coventry Blaze have lost one of the lynchpins of their team, but have moved swiftly to form a new attacking dream team.

Craig Chapman was released after being offered terms with the Colorado Gold Kings of the West Coast League.

The centreman, who has played an impressive part in securing the Blaze’s place at the top of the BNL and getting into the semi-final of the NTL cup.

His final game was the thrilling away match at Guildford last week, which the Blaze won 2-1 in overtime. Despite being popular with the Blaze faithful he decided to head Stateside after receiving an offer he couldn’t refuse.

But a replacement has already been lined up in shape of Claude Dumas, recently released by Milton Keynes Kings.

Head Coach Paul Thompson said knew that he had to act quickly to find a replacement for the popular Canadian:

"It's an extremely difficult proposition to find a quality player halfway through a season, with a GB passport stamp, willing to join a team in the UK, and that will fit in with our team.”

"We believe that we have made a very sound move to sign a player of undoubted quality, with a proven scoring touch, to enable the Blaze to continue our quest for silverware in our first season here in Coventry."

"Adding Claude to our squad brings a great offensive threat. He is, without doubt, one of the most gifted pure goal-scorers ever to play in this country. I think a lot of Coventry fans are going to enjoy the second half of this season!"

Dumas had been the Kings top scorer and is currently only four points behind the Blaze's Hilton Ruggles in the scoring race, despite the Kings’ lowly league position.

Dumas, a likeable French Canadian, has been a perennial league scoring title winner in recent years since coming to the UK in 1990.

He was drafted by Washington in the NHL entry draft of 1985 and played for Binghampton and Baltimore of the American Hockey League and Fort Wayne of the International Hockey League before accepting an offer to join the Whitley Bay Warriors in the old British Premier League.

His career since coming to the UK has taken in Whitley, Sheffield Steelers, Trafford Metros, Cardiff Devils, Telford Tigers, Peterborough Pirates and Hull Thunder.

The 33-year-old has racked up more than 2000 points in Britain and is set to form a fearsome combination with fellow French Canadians Steve Chartrand and Ruggles.

Indeed, this is a combination that will have many hockey fans throughout the country watching with interest.

A Chartrand-Dumas combination has long been touted by Blaze fans, and the three together are expected to wreak havoc amongst opposition defences in the New Year. The arrival of Dumas means that the Blaze now have four of the top ten scorers in the BNL so far this season (Ruggles 4th, Dumas 6th, Samuelsson 7th, Chartrand 8th).

Operations Director Grant Charman said:

"It's an exciting time for us. Claude will not be a true replacement for Chaps, but he will bring a different set of skills and attributes to the team.

“It may well lead to a change in style for the team overall, but that is in Thommo's hands now.

Dumas will make his debut for the Blaze on Saturday in the league game at Fife Flyers and will make his first home appearance 24 hours later at the Skydome when the Blaze take on Edinburgh Capitals, with face-off at 6pm.

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CWN / Sport / Ice Hockey / Coventry Blaze / 3 Jan 01
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