Sitting in second place behind the Dayton Demonz, the Williamsport Outlaws are planing to cut ties with the team's leading goal-scorer, Rob Sich. Sich leads the Federal Hockey League in goals scored with 29 and is in third place in points with 40.
"Rob is a great player and he is a great kid and he comes with a tremendous amount of experience," Outlaws head coach Chris Firriolo said Wednesday night. "He's helped get us where we are and he is leading the league in scoring, but we felt as an organization we needed to make some changes."
To replace Sich, a two-time Southern Professional Hockey League MVP, the Outlaws have signed forward Anthony Battaglia.
Battaglia was with the Outlaws last season, and should bring chemistry to the team along with scoring ability lost with Sich's departure.
"He is a world class guy and he is a guy that leads by example," Firriolo said. "Even (Wednesday) in practice, he changed the atmosphere of everything."
With the move the Outlaws look to bring in another player from last year's championship team while adding chemistry and experience.
"We thought that for the chemistry and makeup of the team it was a better fit for us," Firriolo said. "We are trying to make some changes and we are a much better hockey club and he brings some of that culture we had last year."
Despite Sich's departure, the Outlaws still have four of the top 10 leaders in points in the FHL with Trevor Karasiewicz leading the league with 48 points. Jeff Winchester, Matt Smyth and Luke Filcek round out the scoring for Williamsport in the absence of Sich.
"We made a decision that we felt was best for the team and we wish him the best," Firriolo said. "He is a prolific goal-scorer but that doesn't necessarily win championships. We have guys who were with us last year and we wanted them to bring the new guys we have to where they need to be down the stretch and Battaglia will help do that.
"We were looking for a more well-rounded player who can do more things and when Battaglia became available he was a guy we wanted in the lineup and we weren't willing to move some of the other role players. He will help us down the stretch and he will lead by example and he knows what's expected."
And while Sich has been one of the league's most prolific scorers this season, Williamsport is hoping that Battaglia's well-rounded game will help complement the rest of the roster, benefiting the team more over the long haul.
"There are a lot of things that go into putting together a team with the right chemistry and his release was not about the on-ice productivity. Rob is a dynamic goal-scorer and he is successful at that, but we look at other things too with how we are going to play overall and the overall impact of the player."