Keefe delighted to see Martinelli commit to the Giants' cause
Adam Keefe has made a second move in as many days to build his defensive core for next season by confirming that Ryan Martinelli will return for a second campaign with the Belfast Giants.
24 hours after revealing the news that Scottish-born Mark Garside will return to the SSE Arena for an eighth successive season, the club have announced that he will be joined on the blueline by 30-year-old Martinelli.
Martinelli impressed during his 47 appearances for the Giants last season, when the team finished second in the Elite League behind the Cardiff Devils under former player-coach Derrick Walser.
Now, new boss Keefe is backing the 6ft 5in Ontario-born player to display his winning credentials as he aims to add the Elite League title to the previous success he enjoyed in Germany with the Fischtown Pinguins.
"Ryan is a great guy to have around the locker room," said Keefe. "He is a big guy who skates well and is mean in front of the net. He is a winner, who won a league title in Germany.
"I know many Giants fans really took to Ryan last season as he plays hard every night. We are excited to have him return."
The new deals for Garside and Martinelli brings the number of confirmed players for next season to five, with British pair Colin Shields and Matt Towe already signed up along with star forward Blair Riley, who netted 28 goals last season, with Shields only a couple behind him.
Keefe knows that he needs to add further firepower to the team after James Desmarais and Mike Forney ended their two-year spells with the Giants.
Martinelli's continued stay is part of the club's partnership with the Ulster University Business School. Extensions to contracts for Jackson Whistle, Alex Foster and Steve Saviano, who came to Belfast last season under the same scheme, are expected to be announced within the next few weeks.