Garside still gets Giants chills

(PHOTO: William Cherry/Press Eye)

Belfast Giants forward Mark Garside says he still gets the same excited feeling of playing in front of a big crowd now as he did when he first joined them.

The 30-year-old racked up his 500th appearance in teal last week after joining them in 2010 from Edinburgh Capitals and is due to celebrate his testimonial later this season.

And he reflected on some of the changes that has gone on at the club from when he walked through the doors at the now SSE Arena almost ten years.

“I don’t really remember my first appearance for the Giants looking back, but I do remember the feeling of having moved from Edinburgh, where I would play in front of 700-800 people the going out to play in front of the big crowd and excitement of playing there,” Garside said.

“I’m part of the bricks now, but I still get the same feeling now playing in front of that big crowd and it’s been a pleasure to play in all 500 of them.

“When they announced the testimonial, it was also revealed that I was on something like 495 so I knew it was coming not long after, but it’s been the hell of a time.

“In our league, players change every year and in my time, we’ve had GMs come and go, I’ve played under four or five coaches and a change in ownership.  There’s been big structural changes, but everything looks really good right now.

“I don’t know how far I’ll go.  It’s one day at a time right now, but I finished my degree last May and graduated which is something to fall back on and what I’ll do long term isn’t so much of a worry now.

“But I’m enjoying hockey a bit more now and there’s a bit less pressure with the education behind now.  Despite the losses, I’m having fun and feeling good and take each season as it comes.”

Garside, who celebrated the milestone in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Manchester Storm, was upbeat about the club’s start to the season, despite the wins not coming their way as they would like.

And he admitted it’s unusual to be so far into the season without tasting victory on the road, with the run standing at eight games going into weekend.

But the Scot, who can play in a two-way capacity, is looking to change that when they head to Manchester to take on Ryan Finnerty’s Storm on Saturday.

He added: “The season’s not been too bad.  We hit a bit of a slump with three CHL losses and losing in Glasgow over the weekend there recently and lost to Dundee.

“Some of the games we’ve been beaten in, we actually haven’t been that bad.  We’re creating a lot of chances and carrying the play, but the last couple of weeks, we’ve struggled to score and that’s maybe slightly hit the confidence offensively.

Garside has three EIHL titles and a testimonial to come after making his 500th appearance for the club last week (PHOTO: William Cherry/Press Eye)

“Even in those defeats, nobody has really blown us out other than Lulea and they play at a higher level.  We got that win on Sunday so hopefully that can help us kick on.

“It’s bizarre to be in a position where we’re nearly a couple of months into the season and still not have won on the road.  It’s something we have to rectify and we get another chance in Manchester on Saturday.

As for how long he’ll continue after hitting that impressive 500 mark for the Giants and with over 700 games in all EIHL competitions under his belt, he’s not willing to say.

But he’s having the best time as part of Adam Keefe’s squad after winning the Elite League title for a third time last season.

He said: “I don’t know how far I’ll go.  It’s one day at a time right now, but I finished my degree last May and graduated which is something to fall back on and what I’ll do long term isn’t so much of a worry now.

“But I’m enjoying hockey a bit more now and there’s a bit less pressure with the education behind now.  Despite the losses, I’m having fun and feeling good and take each season as it comes.”

Mark Garside is a guest on this week’s British Ice Hockey podcast.  Check out the full interview here or download via Apple podcasts, AudioBoom, Spotify or wherever you get your audio downloads.

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