Thornton goes back to basics for Belfast Giants
Steve Thornton has gone back to school to capture the first new imports as Belfast Giants player-coach.
Up until last night, other than Thornton himself and the return of Shane Johnson to the team, the only players to have been signed for next season so far have been British qualified.
Now, however, the influx of north-Americans has started, with Thornton taking recommendations to secure the services of forward duo 26-year-old centreman Bobby Robins and Andrew Martin, a 25-year-old left-wing.
The pair are former students at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell under Blaise Macdonald, who was also Thornton's college coach and they will come to Europe for the first time in their careers. The double-signing is a coup for the Giants, as both have been in great demand.
"I have been chasing these two guys for quite a while now and I think that they are going to be very important players for us next year," said Thornton.
"The teams with 10 imports in our league seem to be leaning towards speed and skill with the other teams going for more size and toughness - Bobby Robins will tick both boxes for us.
"He will be able to play on a skilled line and at the same time keep other teams honest with his big physical presence.
"He has been described as a devastating hitter that can change the momentum of a game at any given moment. I spoke to six pro coaches about him and three of them tried to trade for him last season."
"Martin's offensive qualities will be an asset to Thornton as he goes about trying to win a third league title at the Odyssey, with 72 points in 93 games over the last two seasons.
"Andrew is a guy that I didn't think we would be able to get because there was interest in him from some other European leagues, as they love the speedy offensive guys. He has a great all round game and we expect him to score some big goals for us next season.
"When I spoke to his college coach and presented him with about 30 names that we were looking at, Andrew and Bobby were at the top of his list. He described Andrew as the complete package on and off the ice" said Thornton.
With the season drawing closer teams are working on their fixture list, with finalised dates expected to be sorted out within the next few weeks.