Captain ‘fantastic’ Aaron Connolly has followed head coach Doug Sheppard out of the Basingstoke Bison door after five years with the club.
A club statement announced the departure of the trophy treble-winning captain at the same time as revealing defenceman Dan Scott also departs the NIHL South 1 and play-off champions.
Both players were crucial to the Herd’s historic season on the ice as Bison charged to the title keeping six shutouts and racking up 26 wins.
Leading goalscorer Connolly and defenceman Scott were both presented with the Players’ Player award in April.
Departing captain Connolly said it had been “an honour” to “pull the Bison colours on” over the last five years and leaves the club to move closer to his family.
He said: “I leave this wonderful club with the most amazing memories that will last a lifetime.
“I can’t begin to thank all the fans for everything they have done to support me and make my time in Basingstoke so enjoyable.
“Of course, my time with the Bison would not have been the same without the boys I had the pleasure to play alongside, Shep and the team staff.
“The friendships I have made along this journey I will always be grateful for.
“I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life and hockey career, I hope our paths all cross again soon.
“It’s been a hell of a ride.”
A spokesperson for the club said: “The Bison would like to thank both Aaron and Dan for their contribution to the club and we wish them well in their future endeavours.
“Clearly the past week has been eventful for the club with the unexpected departure of Doug Sheppard and discussions are ongoing with several potential replacements.
“As soon as we are able to provide an update we will.”
The club also moved to allay fans’ fears about the budget for the forthcoming NIHL season, confirming the playing budget had not been slashed.
An annual league meeting will take place on Sunday at which point Bison will announce details on season tickets.