Cranbrook product Jace Coyle is returning to North America after two season in Europe.
The Quad City Mallards of the ECHL announced the signing of the 26-year-old defenceman on Wednesday.
“We’ve missed a point man on the power play who could control the puck, make good passes and take quality shots on goal and with Jace we now have that kind of player,” said Terry Ruskowski, head coach and general manager of the Mallards, in a team release. “He could be a huge asset for us because the game has changed and you need a defenceman to come up into the play to create an odd-man rush and Jace is a guy who can do that and help us teach the younger guys as well.”
Following a four-year Western Hockey League career with the Spokane Chiefs and Medicine Hat Tigers, Coyle turned pro after signing with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. From 2011-12 through 2013-14, he went on to play 61 games in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars and Lake Erie Monsters, while also suiting up in 113 ECHL games, split between the Idaho Steelheads and Fort Wayne Comets.
The 2014-15 campaign took Coyle to Denmark, where he played in 36 games with the Aalborg Pirates, registering 19 points in 36 games.
In 2015-16, Coyle moved to the Sheffield Steelers of the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) in the United Kingdom. With the Steelers, the 6-foot, 179-pound blueliner collected 34 points in 64 regular season games en route to a EIHL championship.
Coyle’s junior career saw him register 107 points in 241 regular season games in Medicine Hat, where he also won a WHL championship and Memorial Cup title with the Tigers in 2008.
Prior to landing with the Tigers, the East Kootenay native skated with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Fernie Ghostriders (2006-07) and Revelstoke Grizzlies (2007-08), amassing 38 points in 89 games split between the two clubs.
Coyle’s best season in the pro ranks came in 2013-14, when he racked up 31 points in 63 games with the Komets.
The Mallards finished the 2015-16 season third in the ECHL’s Midwest Division with a record of 37-29-4-2 before bowing out of the post-season in a first-round loss to the Missouri Mavericks.
The Mallards will open the 2016-17 ECHL slate on Friday, Oct. 14, when they host Coyle’s former club, the Fort Wayne Komets.