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Steve Thornton shows intent with moves to strengthen Belfast Giants

By Stuart McKinley

Published 08/05/2015

New arrival: Matt Nickerson has linked up with Giants
New arrival: Matt Nickerson has linked up with Giants

Steve Thornton has made a major statement of his intent to bring the Elite League title back to Belfast by swooping for three players from rival clubs.

Two key Great Britain internationals have also committed their immediate future to the cause and back-up goaltender Adam Dickson will again provide cover for Stephen Murphy.

Thornton has been working tirelessly behind the scenes since the season finished with Play-off semi-final defeat to Coventry Blaze five weeks ago and he announced the signings of Matt Nickerson from the Fife Flyers and Nottingham Panthers pair Jonathan Boxill and Chris Higgins.

Scottish duo Mark Garside and Colin Shields will also be back in a Giants jersey next season.

"I'm really looking forward to the upcoming season and to helping the Giants bring back the championship as I know the Giants have a long history of success," said Nickerson.

The capture of Great Britain international Boxill is key after losing David Phillips to the Hull Stingrays.

Higgins returns to the Odyssey after he played a major part in the Giants' march to the Elite League title in 2014, scoring 18 goals in 44 games, before spending last season in Nottingham.

Bringing back a man who knows what it takes to win a league title was a major factor in Thornton's pursuit of the 29-year-old.

"Chris was pretty excited when I spoke to him - he was one of the first guys I got in contact with after the season ended," said Thornton.

"We struggled to produce offence last season and I believe that Chris is a player who will produce offence and make players around him better - so it was an easy decision for me."

The batch of six signings takes the number of players confirmed for the 2015-16 season to 11, with goaltender Murphy, defenceman Jeff Mason, forward pair Darryl Lloyd and Craig Peacock re-signing. Team captain Adam Keefe will also be back.

Kevin Phillips is understood to be on a two-year contract.

Belfast Telegraph

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