The Stena Line Belfast Giants have announced the addition of seven players to the team for the 2016/17 season. At the Giants exclusive Season Ticket Holders event at The SSE Arena on Monday night it was announced that Jonathan Boxill, Michael Forney, James Desmarais, Mark Garside, Brandon Benedict, David Rutherford and Matt Nickerson will all return for the new season in August.
Jonathan Boxill also join the Giants almost one year ago, signing from a two year spell with the Nottingham Panthers. The Team GB international quickly become a fans favourite at The SSE Arena, Belfast and posted seven goals and eight assists, good for 15 points in 64 games played for the Giants.
Michael Forney signed for the Giants almost one year ago directly from the Sheffield Steelers, where he won the league championship in the 2014/15 season. In the 2015/16 season, Forney scored 25 goals and 34 points, good for 59 points in 62 games played. The 27 year old American forward finished second overall in points scoring for the Giants as well as second for the team in goal scored.
James Desmarais joined the Giants following nine seasons spent playing in Switzerland and made an immediate impact in Belfast – winning the ‘Most Valuable Player’ Award, as voted by the fans, at the annual Awards Night. The 37 year old Canadian forward scored 23 goal and 40 assists, for a total of 63 points in 64 games played in the 2015/16 season – the highest in the Giants team.
Mark Garside, a 27 year old from Scotland, will make Belfast home for a seventh straight season, after joining the Giants back in 2010 after four years spent with the Edinburgh Capitals. During his time with the Giants, Garside has been a regular in the Team GB national side and has helped the organisation to two league championships, in the 2011/12 and 2013/14 seasons, and has posted 154 points in 319 games played.
Brandon Benedict will make it two seasons in-a-row with the Giants and four seasons overall with the organisation when he pulls on the Teal jersey once again in the 2016/17 season. Benedict, a 22 year old Centreman from Halifax in Canada, first joined the Giants back in 2009 and won the Playoff title in 2010 before moving to the Nottingham Panthers for four seasons where he was instrumental in winning seven trophies during that time. In his Giants career to date, Benedict has posted 44 goals and 100 assists, good for 144 points in 150 games played.
Matt Nickerson joined the Giants straight from the Fife Flyers in 2015 following two seasons spent with the Gardiner Conference side. Although a large spell of the 2015/16 seasons was spent on the sidelines due to injury, Nickerson became a firm fans favourite on the blueline in Belfast and posted four goals and six assists, good for ten points in 45 games played.
David Rutherford joined the Giants in January 2016 from the Edinburgh Capitals when the Giants interrupted a move for the forward to the ECHL in North America in order to add the Canadian to the roster for the remainder of the season. The 29 year old posted 21 goals and 29 assists, good for 50 points in in 53 games played in total in the 2015/16 season, including 18 points with the Giants.