Jim Vandermeer is ready to make his Belfast Giants bow
Belfast Giants fans will get a first look at former NHL star Jim Vandermeer when they face Italian side Cortina in a weekend double-header.
And he will be joined in the line-up by two local youngsters as player-coach Derrick Walser has promoted Adam Robinson and Ross Hancock for the two challenge games at the SSE Arena tonight and tomorrow.
The signing of 35-year-old defenceman Vandermeer was announced last week, but he has only arrived in Belfast within the last few days and will now have the benefit of being eased into his new surroundings before his Elite League debut.
The Giants will be without forward quartet Craig Peacock, Mark Garside, Colin Shields and Jonathan Boxill who are all on Great Britain duty in Italy, while goaltender Stephen Murphy was a late withdrawal from the national team squad. His place will go to regular back-up Andrew Dickson.
Walser, who has seen his team lose their last five games, said: "These games give us a good opportunity to work on things, but we will still come out to play well.
"We have to keep our level of intensity up because we play again on Tuesday."
Meanwhile, Shields was on the scoresheet as GB got their Olympic Games pre-qualifying campaign off to a winning start by overcoming the Netherlands in an 11-goal thriller.
He put GB 5-4 up on a powerplay midway through the third period before Mark Richardson secured the 6-5 win with four minutes to go.