Belfast Giants 2022-23 Roster: Signings, Quotes & More

Ben Lake, Belfast Giants (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Ben Lake, Belfast Giants (Image: Scott Wiggins)

Despite missing out on the treble last term, the Belfast Giants approach pre-season with a spring in their step. Adam Keefe’s squad secured a memorable league and cup double in 2021-22 and are expected to contend for silverware once again.

However, the Giants face stiff competition at the top of the Elite League, with their Champions Hockey League (CHL) return set to stretch them to the limit. Belfast are under pressure to strengthen and deepen their roster as a result.

Keefe’s top priority is replacing star forward J.J. Piccinich. The former Toronto Marlie opted against re-signing in Belfast this summer, joining Norwegian side Stjernen Hockey as a free agent.

But many of the Giants’ double-winners are back for another year, including Team Great Britain’s Ben Lake and American forward David Goodwin.

Belfast Giants 2022-23 Roster

Last updated at 16:00 on Sunday, 7 August; bookmark this page to stay up-to-date with Belfast’s latest signings.

Netminders

Peyton Jones: Since graduating from the NCAA, Jones has split his time between the AHL and ECHL. He made 32 appearances for the third-tier Utah Grizzlies last term, upholding a .904 save percentage.

  • Coach’s Verdict:  “Jones’ experience within the NCAA, AHL and ECHL will put us in good stead for the EIHL and the CHL.”
  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Catches: Left
  • Nation(s): USA

Jackson Whistle: Since making his Elite League debut in 2017-18, Whistle has been Mr Consistent. He upheld a .917 save percentage through 15 appearances last term and produced two strong performances for Team GB at the World Championship.

Could he steal the starter’s job for club and country this season?

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Catches: Left
  • Nation(s): Great Britain

Andrew Dickson: Returning for his eleventh season in teal, Dickson is part of the furniture in Belfast. The 34-year-old from Ballymoney will reprise his role as Keefe’s No. 3 goaltender after helping the Giants to wins over Sheffield and Fife last time out.

Defencemen

New Signings:

Gabe Bast: This isn’t Bast’s first rodeo in Europe. After graduating from the University of North Dakota, he made 18 appearances in the Finnish Liiga and arrives in Belfast with an impressive CV. The 5-foot-10 Canadian is a puck-moving blueliner with silky skating and a degree in Communications. Now, he’s ready to do his talking on the ice.

Gabe Bast, formerly North Dakota Fighting Hawks (Image: Russell Hons)
Gabe Bast, formerly North Dakota Fighting Hawks (Image: Russell Hons)

“Off the back of a stint in Finland, Bast has gained valuable experience in Liiga, and we know he will bring that European experience, as well as a strong defensive presence to the ice in Belfast next season.”

Adam Keefe, Belfast Giants Head Coach

Matt Foley: 27-year-old Foley arrives in Belfast with plenty of experience in the NCAA (with Yale) and ECHL (with the Wheeling Nailers). The 6-foot-1 American relishes defending with his body and adds physicality to Keefe’s blueline.

Will Cullen: Cullen dressed in the AHL and ECHL in his rookie season, registering 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in 32 third-tier appearances for the Worcester Railers and Idaho Steelheads. A puck-moving defenceman, Cullen will be an asset on the power play.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “Will Cullen fits the bill of the type of player we want on our side here in Belfast. He competes hard, is defensive first but not afraid to contribute offensively, and is a great teammate”
  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): USA

Returning Players:

Kevin Raine: Returning for a fifth season in teal, Raine is back with the Giants. He’s established as one of the best defenders in the Elite League and will play a crucial role in Belfast’s top-four.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “He is a physical presence and an important part of our defensive line-up, proving time and time again that he knows what it takes to win.”
  • Age: 29
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): Canada

Jeff Baum: Considering it was his rookie year as a professional, Baum was excellent for the Giants in 2021-22. The 5-foot-11 defender patrolled the blueline with poise and took difficult assignments in his stride. Entering his age-27 season, the American has his best years ahead of him.

Mark Garside: 33-year-old Garside doesn’t do half measures. He will participate in his twelfth season as a Belfast Giant in 2022-23, making him the club’s longest-serving active player. Born in East Kilbride, the 5-foot-9 blueliner contributed 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 50 appearances last year.

Sam Ruopp: According to Keefe, 26-year-old Ruopp is a “true team player” with an important role in Belfast’s defensive efforts. He was a blueline menace last season, using his 6-foot-4 frame to thwart attacks. The left-shooting skater is Canadian-British.

Sam Ruopp, Belfast Giants (Image: William Cherry)
Sam Ruopp, Belfast Giants (Image: William Cherry)

“Last season was incredible. Winning two out of three championships was a great feat for us and something that we are incredibly proud of.”

Sam Ruopp, Belfast Giants Defenceman

Forwards

New Signings:

Darik Angeli: Angeli will play outside North America for the first time in his career this term. He exceeded the point-per-game rate last season, notching 65 points (28 goals, 37 assists) in 56 games for the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “He skates well, has good vision and will be an offensive threat for us next season. He isn’t shy to use his big frame to get the job done as well.”
  • Age: 31
  • Role: Centre / Right Wing
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Shoots: Right
  • Nation(s): USA

David Gilbert: With experience spanning Canada, the USA, Czechia, France, and Hungary, Gilbert will be a key player for Belfast in the Champions Hockey League. He registered 46 points (25 goals, 21 assists) in 39 Ligue Magnus appearances last season.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “David has a dangerous shot that will give goalies a lot of problems this season. He can play on both sides of the puck and will be a reliable forward for us this season, offensively and defensively.”
  • Age: 31
  • Role: Centre / Left Wing
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Canada

Chad Butcher, C: Born in 1996, Butcher has scored consistently at every level he’s played at. He was prolific in the Western Hockey League (WHL), registering 103 points (27 goals, 76 assists) in his final season with the Medicine Hat Tigers. Since, his poaching instincts have taken him to the American Hockey League, ECHL, and Allsvenskan.

Colby McAuley, C: Keefe expects McAuley’s “physical style” to be popular in Belfast. The 6-foot forward isn’t afraid to throw his body around and is set to centre the Giants’ third line.

Steve Owre, C: 26-year-old Owre netted 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 33 Ligue Magnus appearances last term, before playing at a point-per-game pace in the playoffs. His CV includes time in the ECHL, USports and WHL.

“Colby, Chad and Steve were eager to sign in Belfast because they want to win, and they want to compete in the CHL. They’re well-rounded players who have a built-in chemistry from playing around Western Canada and the ECHL together.”

Adam Keefe, Belfast Giants Head Coach

Returning Players:

Scott Conway: Conway’s record in the Elite League is no joke: 100 points (40 goals, 60 assists) in 65 games. Talk about being lethal.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “A hit with the fans, he’ll be bringing a fast and skilled approach to his game – he’s a competitive guy and I know he’ll come in wanting to improve on last season and challenge for every trophy.”
  • Age: 27
  • Role: Centre
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Great Britain / Canada

Tyler Soy: A middle-six forward, Soy registered 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in his rookie season for the Giants las term. He returns.

  • Coach’s Verdict: “A true team player and one of the nicest kids I’ve worked with. He scored some very important goals for us last year that helped bring us two trophies.”
  • Age: 25
  • Role: Centre
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Shoots: Left
  • Nation(s): Canada

Mark Cooper, RW: After netting 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) in 53 games in his debut Elite League season, Toronto-born Cooper is back for more. Before making the switch to Europe, he played 253 games in the ECHL, registering 200 points (81 goals, 119 assists). Pedigree.

David Goodwin, C/LW: There are 80 reasons why Goodwin is a fan favourite in Belfast: he notched 27 goals and 53 assists on the Elite League’s most potent line last term and is set to take the competition by storm again.

Of returning to the SSE Arena, he said: “Belfast is like a second home to me – I love the community, the culture, and the fans are amazing… I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.”

David Goodwin of the Belfast Giants celebrates winning the 2021-22 Elite League title (Image: Dean Woolley)
David Goodwin of the Belfast Giants celebrates winning the 2021-22 Elite League title (Image: Dean Woolley)

“He played an instrumental role in our double trophy success last season, leading the Giants as captain he showed immense compassion for his teammates, the Giants organisation, and our fans – the Teal Army. A key player in our offensive zone, I know Goody will return hungry for another season of success.”

Adam Keefe, Belfast Giants Head Coach

Ben Lake, LW/C: Don’t mess with Lake. He isn’t afraid of skating in dirty areas of the ice and throwing his body around to light a fire under his teammates. The Team GB stalwart put up 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists) in 50 games last season and will embark on his third campaign in Belfast this autumn.

Ciaran Long, LW/D: Long registered 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 51 appearances from Belfast’s bottom-six last season, using his 6-foot-3 frame to help the Giants at both ends of the ice. The 31-year-old also made three appearances for Team GB at the 2022 World Championship.

* Position data sourced via Elite Prospects.

2021-22 Belfast Giants at a Glance

League Position and Record: 1st, 43-9-2

Playoff Performance: Lost in final to Cardiff Devils

Leading Scorer: J.J. Piccinich, 80 points (35 goals, 45 assists) in 54 games

Challenge Cup Performance: Won in final versus Cardiff Devils

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