It has been six seasons since Derek Keller wore a Battlefords North Stars uniform. Since then, he has played two seasons with the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League and four years at St. Lawrence University.
Keller will be putting on a new uniform once again at the start of the 2012-13 season. The 5´11? 179-pound defenceman signed a contract with the Fife Flyers of the Elite Ice Hockey League.
“I’m really excited about this new chapter in my hockey career,” said Keller. “It’s awesome to be able to see a cool part of the world while playing a high calibre of hockey.”
“Derek is a good skating and puck moving defenceman that will be able to play for us in all situations,” said Flyers’ assistant coach Danny Stewart, in a news release on the team’s website. “He is a solid all round player that will log a lot of minutes and help us greatly with our special teams. We wanted to bring in guys that can play all over the ice and are good people in the locker room and Derek definitely gives (us) all of that.”
Keller will be reunited with his former teammate and defence partner Jeff Caister, who signed with Fife days earlier. Keller and Caister played two seasons together in St. Lawrence and were teammates for a short time in South Carolina.
“This, along with the signing of Jeff Caister, gives us two very good defencemen from the ECHL and is a great start in building this team for next season,” said Stewart.
The Fife Flyers were established in 1938, the oldest hockey team in the United Kingdom. After several championships and league changes, Fife played in the EIHL for the first time last season. Fife plays out of Kirkcaldy, Scotland and last season were 8-40-6, finishing 10th in the standings.
Keller commented the day after the signing was made official that the fans in Scotland truly have a passion for hockey as many have tried to contact him via Twitter and are already showing there excitement in watching him and the team take to the ice for the 2012-13 season.
Last season, his first full season in South Carolina, Keller had four goals and 15 assists. In an injury-shortened 2010-11 campaign Keller had two goals and 12 assists in 29 games with the Stingrays.
Keller is getting married this summer in North Battleford, where he continues to train, and will head to Europe near the end of August.
The EIHL is the same league in which North Battleford-born goaltender, North Stars goaltender coach and former South Carolina Stingray Jody Lehman played for six seasons.