Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Thornton sweet on new job in Belfast

Steve Thornton arrived in Northern Ireland yesterday to begin in earnest the job of putting the Belfast Giants back at the top of UK ice hockey.

The club's new player-coach has sold his house in Cardiff as he, wife Beth and their two children prepare to set up home on this side of the Irish Sea.

After completing his first two signings before arriving, in the shape of Dave Phillips and Colin Shields, Thornton is now looking for more British talent for the Giants.

And in addition to that he wants players who have what it takes to perform to their best in the heat of intense battles as he looks to bring silverware back to the Odyssey Arena.

"We want captains and assistants and particularly guys that have won championships over the last few years," said Thornton.

"You can teach a guy to forecheck or back check, but it's hard to teach a guy to play great in the big games, to not get nervous when titles are on the line or to step up his game when the pressure is on.

"Any top scorer can score when a team is 4-1 up or get that third goal when their team is losing 6-2 because the pressure is off and guys are letting up.

"I want the guys that will score over-time winners or will get the game winning goal in a 1-1 game. Those are the players we want on the Giants team next season."

Last season Ed Courtenay had the British international trio of goaltender Stevie Lyle and defencemen Leigh Jamieson and Graeme Walton in his line-up, as well as other non-import players Adam Cree, Lewis Christie, Mark Morrison and Paul Moran.

With Phillips and Shields already on the roster it would already appear that two of last season's players won't return to the Odyssey and Thornton is now targeting a third top-class British player - although that may not necessarily mean a new face coming in.

"The top teams in the league all have a superstar Brit in their line-up. I think we could have three this season and the best supporting cast of Brits in the league."

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