The Stena Line Belfast Giants are pleased to announce the signing of Mark Cooper for the forthcoming 2021/22 season.
The 29-year-old Canadian forward has six years pro hockey under his belt and comes to Belfast following two years in South Carolina, playing for the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL. Having notched up 12 goals and 16 assists in 46 games last season, he helped the club reach the playoffs and comes to Belfast hungry for championship success.
“It was a great learning experience, which hopefully I can bring to Belfast and win a championship there,” says Cooper of his time with the Stingrays and his hopes for the forthcoming season with Giants.
For Toronto born Cooper, the decision to sign for Belfast was a ‘no brainer’ as he explains: “I’ve heard Belfast is one of the premier spots to play in the Elite League, so that was an easy decision… I’ve heard great things about the League, that it’s continually trying to improve, so it was kind of a no brainer once the contract was sent to me.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things about how the organisation is run and how the people are treated. They’re treated as hockey players and as people so, I was extremely excited that it worked out and I could play for the Giants.”
Commenting on the news, Adam Keefe, Head Coach of the Belfast Giants said: “Mark is a player we have been watching and speaking to for a few summers now about coming to Belfast. He has spent time in the ECHL and AHL throughout his time playing pro in North America and brings valuable experience to the team.
“At 6’2”, he’s a big guy and a hard-working power forward who plays the right way and goes to the net hard. Has an offensive touch around the net and fits the bill of the type of player and person we want here in Belfast. He competes hard and is a great teammate. If we were to compare him to a past player, Kyle Baun would be a good comparison. We look forward to welcoming Mark to Belfast – the fans are going to love him.”
Further signings are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
MARK COOPER | #26 | Toronto, Canada
Hailing from Toronto, Canada, the former NCAA Bowling Green University graduate has played pro hockey for the past six years. He has never been to the UK or Ireland but has been doing his homework and recently discovered he has family links to the city
“I’m extremely excited. When Adam [Keefe] reached out to me and said they were interested in me, I was researching Belfast. I heard nothing but great things and was extremely excited when I was able to sign and confirm that I’d be coming there.
“I’ve never been there before. I’ve actually never been to the UK. But I’ve looked up Belfast and I know some previous players like Kyle Baun for instance, who played there, and he had nothing but great things to say.
“Actually, my dad told me once I signed up that my great grandparents were from Belfast. I never was able to meet them… but I might get a chance to find out more about the Cooper heritage when I arrive. “
Thinking about the first night in the SSE Arena, he says he’s buzzing to get going: “The arena looks incredible, and I’ve heard the fans are crazy in a good way. So, I’m extremely excited to strap up and get things going. I believe the season starts September 25, so that’s a date marked in my calendar since the day I signed.”
and his message for the fans? “Just come out screaming loud on that first night and we’ll give our best to get the team a championship.”