Signing news: Seven up in Belfast, while Fife and Cardiff strengthen too

Ben Lake is swapping Blaze for Belfast (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

Elite League sides have been busy with nine players arriving for three clubs in the past couple of days.

The busiest of the trio were champions Belfast Giants, who confirmed seven players in total, with six of them all returning for another year following their league and Challenge Cup success.

Curtis Leonard, Lewis Hook, Paul Swindlehurst, Mark Garside are joined by netminders Stephen Murphy and Andrew Dickson as they were announced at a fans’ event at the SSE Arena.

The brand new addition to the team is Ben Lake, who joins the club from Coventry Blaze where he picked up 82 points in 68 appearances last year.

Lake, who played for Great Britain at the World Championships is the third new face for Adam Keefe’s side, joining Patryk Wronka and Ciaran Long, who were announced a few weeks ago.

Stephen Murphy has signed up for his 11th season at the Giants (PHOTO: Tony Sargent)

On his departure from the Blaze, Lake said in a statement on the Coventry Blaze website: “To all the Blaze fans, staff and most importantly my teammates, I just want to thank you all for making my two years in Coventry such a memorable experience.

The decision to move on was not an easy one for me as the organisation gave me a platform to perform at the highest level of my career. The Blaze is built around good people and every one of you made me feel welcome from day one.

“I look forward to returning to the Skydome to see everyone and wish you all the best of luck.”

Keefe also announced at the fan event that netminder Tyler Beskorowany and top scorer Darcy Murphy have both decided to move on to pastures new.

Chase Schaber is back in Fife for a fourth season (PHOTO: Jillian McFarlane)

In Scotland, Fife Flyers added the second player to their team for the new season as Chase Schaber was confirmed as returning for the Kirkcaldy side.

It will be the fourth season for the 28-year-old, who is a firm favourite with the fans and joins Bari McKenzie on the roster.

And his re-signing was a top priority for coach Todd Dutiaume after the contribution he has made during his spell there.

“Chase has been an impact player for this hockey club,” he told the Flyers website.  “He’s getting him back to 100% and re-signing him was a top priority for the coaching staff.

“I’m delighted to be working with him for another season. He’s well on the road to recovery and he’s excited to get back to work and back on the ice.”

Schaber added: “I’m very fortunate and grateful to be signing in Fife for another season.

“I’m excited for the season ahead and will work hard to help this team and organisation achieve their goals.”

Cardiff coach Andrew Lord said it was a ‘no brainer’ to bring back Joey Haddad (PHOTO: Helen Brabon)

Cardiff Devils also announced the return of Joey Haddad for what will be his sixth season at the club to make him the fifth confirmed name for Andrew Lord’s side next season.

The highly-decorated forward has won two Elite League titles, two play-off crowns and two Challenge Cups and is back to help spearhead their Champions Hockey League campaign next season.

And Lord said bringing him back was an easy decision, revealing the Welsh city has become more than just a place to play for him.

“Bringing back Joey is a no-brainer for us,” Lord told the Cardiff Devils website. “Despite his struggles with injury last season, he still put up the points when he was fit and he brings so much to the team. 

“He is a great teammate and having been here for as long as he has, he understands the values and ethos of this club better than most.

“Cardiff is his home away from home now and I know how much this city and club means to him. 

“He is doing all the right things to come back stronger next season and I’m thrilled to have him back. He scores big goals and has become a real leader – on and off the ice.”

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