Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Courtenay forced to bring back Johnson

Shane Johnson has returned to the Belfast Giants and will hope to have a big impact

Shane Johnson will be back in a Belfast Giants shirt tomorrow night - 15 months after being dumped by the club.

Coach Ed Courtenay released the former club captain in the summer of 2006 after he was part of the Giants' Elite League- winning team the previous season.

It was something of a bitter parting of the ways with the fact that Courtenay informed Johnson of the decision by email being one particular issue that annoyed the defenceman.

Any problems have now been ironed out and the 33-year-old will return to the Odyssey ice as a Giants player when Basingstoke Bison come to town tomorrow night.

He has already played in Belfast this season while on a temporary contract with the Cardiff Devils, but he will now be in the Giants team until the end of the season.

Johnson restores the current team's link with the first ever Giants side, which was broken when Todd Kelman retired at the end of last season and is one of only three players to have won the league twice as a Belfast player.

"We tried to sign Shane twice already this season when defencemen went down with injury and now that his temporary contract is up with Cardiff, I jumped at the chance to sign him," said Courtenay.

"I am happy to have him back on board and I know he is going to make a huge impact on the ice.

"He will come in right away and strengthen our defence."

Johnson isn't the first Giant to return to the team after time away from the club.

Kory Karlander, Sean Berens, Jason Bowen, Rob Stewart, Roman Gavalier and Gareth Martin have all had two spells with the club, as did goaltender Colin Ryder who played in two Ahearne Cup games during the 2001-02 season while on an emergency loan before returning the following season, spending two years in Northern Ireland, while Jason Ruff has signed for the Giants FOUR times.

Johnson clocked up over 300 games in his six seasons at the Odyssey and is one goal short of a half century.

That will now be his target, although Courtenay will want him to perform his defensive role first and foremost in a team that is leaking goals badly.

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