Gosport & Solent Devils have revealed further financial frustration ahead of their crucial National League south division one showdown with fellow strugglers Milton Keynes Thunder.
Red tape has robbed them of the services of two high-class Slovakian players as they continue their fight for survival when the relegation rivals arrive at Planet Ice in Gosport tomorrow (6pm).
Victory over Thunder is vital for the home side as they scrap for every point in their battle to avoid a swift return to division two.
But as they bravely strain to compete against sides with massive playing budgets, the Devils have suffered another body blow.
Devils boss Paul Fitzpatrick said: ‘We have two Slovakians training with us but we can’t afford to register them to play.
‘They are top-class players and would improve our squad but they are registered with the Slovak Ice Hockey Association.
‘We would have to pay £800 to release them and then a further £100 to register them over here – that’s £900 per player.
‘It’s money for old rope rope, really, and we just can’t afford it.
‘It’s frustrating because they are really good players, a forward and a defender.
‘They are both living in Gosport – one has been here 10 years – and they want to stay in Gosport.
‘They don’t want to play anywhere else, they just want to be Devils players.
‘But at the moment they are just training with us and playing for the recreational side where they don’t have to be registered.’
The Devils went down 8-1 against Bracknell Hornets last weekend, as a slow start put paid to any hope of victory.
They were 6-0 down before replying through skipper Kris Abbott.
However, Fitzpatrick is confident they can still survive – provided they put last week’s defeat firmly behind them tomorrow.
‘It’s not over yet,’ said the team manager.
‘We have got plenty of games left.
‘The next two matches are at home – starting with the big one against Milton Keynes tomorrow.’