The strong British backbone that helped the Belfast Giants to Elite League glory last season is a step closer to being completed as Doug Christiansen prepares for the challenge of retaining the crown.
Mark Garside has agreed to prolong his stay with the club and his performances in the title-winning season have been rewarded with a new two-year deal.
“I originally came to Belfast to win championships and that is why I want to be a Giant again next season,” said Garside.
“Doug builds teams that will be competing every season for titles and I know that we will be in the hunt again next season for all three trophies.
“I never really looked to go anywhere else, I am very happy in Belfast.
The city is fantastic and the fans are amazing. This is a great place to play and I am glad to be back for another two years.”
The news of Garside pledging his immediate future to the club comes hot on the heels of the capture of former Cardiff Devils forward Matt Towe, who was most recently with the Guildford Flames.
The nucleus of a squad is already coming together — even without any imports being recruited yet.
Craig Peacock has committed himself to another year at the club and the Giants pulled off a major coup in securing the return of Davey Philllips to the Odyssey, also on a two-year contract.
The departure of leading goalscorer Robert Dowd to Sweden left a gap in the forward line that needed to be filled by another Great Britain or Ireland-qualified player and 24-year-old Towe will now be asked to fill that.
And he is coming to Belfast to win trophies after turning down more lucrative contracts.
“I enjoy working with young players who are determined to develop,” said Christiansen.
“Towe has taken less money than he was offered elsewhere to have the opportunity to play for the Giants and prove himself on a championship contender.
“He wanted to get back into the Elite League and that sacrifice is a sign that he is hungry to be a great player and work hard everyday to help the team.”
The British and Irish contingent in the team is almost complete now.
Belfast-born Graeme Walton has another year left on his contract and a deal to bring goaltender Stephen Murphy back to the Giants is also believed to be close.