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Kelman to make return to the ice

By Stuart McKinley

Todd Kelman will make a sensational return to the Belfast Giants team tomorrow night - six months after going into retirement.

The defenceman stopped playing in order to become the team's general manager, but now he is to add to his record 366 appearances in a Giants shirt by facing Manchester Phoenix and Coventry Blaze this weekend.

With Graeme Walton already on the injured list and yet to make an appearance this season, the Giants' defensive problems have been heightened by an injury to Slovakian star Roman Gavalier.

He was injured in Sunday night's 7-1 Challenge Cup defeat at the hands of the Cardiff Devils in the Welsh capital.

Physios have worked with the player all week, but it was decided yesterday that Kelman would train with the team in case he was needed and last night Gavalier was ruled-out of at least the next two games.

"I hadn't planned on this, especially not this early in the season," said Kelman.

Although he is back, Kelman has ruled-out the possibility of a return being long-term.

"This is only a temporary solution to our injury problems.

"We will definitely have to look at getting a replacement if Roman is out for longer than we anticipate."

"Our medical staff are certain Roman will be out for at least three weeks with a knee injury.

" Graeme Walton was out last weekend with an injury that he will hopefully be returning from this weekend."

Having to change his line-up so early in the season is far from ideal for player-coach Ed Courtenay, after spending all summer building his squad.

That Giants chief, however, is happy with the quality of the replacement he can call upon.

" Losing Roman and playing without Graeme would put us down by two of our top four defenders," said Courtenay.

"Todd has played seven years with the Giants, I'm not too worried of whether he can adjust to being back on the ice.

"I am fully confident that Roman will be back with us shortly; in the meantime the best man to fill his skates will be putting in the minutes this weekend."

There had been a doubt surrounding the fitness of Courtenay after he also had looked to have sustained an injury in Cardiff.

He will, however, be ready for tomorrow night's game when his old friend Tony Hand brings his Manchester side to the Odyssey, as the Giants looking to continue the winning start they made to the Elite League campaign.

The Edinburgh Capitals were beaten in last weekend's opening game in Belfast and another home win is the aim.

Belfast Telegraph

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