Belfast Giants respond to opening woe by completing Michael Quesnele deal
The Belfast Giants have immediately moved to strengthen their defensive unit after losing 5-2 to the Fife Flyers in their opening game of the season.
Player-coach Derrick Walser has responded to that defeat by adding 27-year-old Canadian Michael Quesnele to his roster.
Although the deal was in the offing before the weekend, Walser and Head of Hockey Operations Steve Thornton moved swiftly to secure an agreement with Quesnele over the weekend.
Quesnele, who has Elite League experience after spending last season with Coventry Blaze, is scheduled to arrive in Belfast today to prepare for Saturday's return Challenge Cup meeting with Fife at the SSE Arena.
"Derrick and I felt that Mike was a top pairing defenceman in Coventry last year," said Thornton. "He skates well, competes hard and has offensive upside.
"He is a proven commodity in this league and we expect him to slot in nicely on our blueline."
Quesnele is a defenceman with an eye for goal, having registered nine strikes for Blaze last season as they reached the Play-off final.
He will make a swift return to Coventry as the Giants play their first Elite League game of the season in the SkyDome on Sunday. Ontario-born Quesnele holds an Italian passport so he doesn't require a work permit to play in the UK. He does, however, take up the last available EU spot on the roster.
Walser will today receive a medical update on the three key men who missed Saturday's game. Defenceman Jim Vandermeer and forward pair Alex Foster and Steve Saviano, both signed during the off-season, sat out the trip, as did back-up goaltender Jackson Whistle.
The arrival of Quesnele provides cover for Vandermeer, or another option is to push Mark Garside into a more advanced role if either Foster or Saviano are ruled out.
Garside had played as a forward all of his career before being used in defence during an injury crisis last season.