Belfast Giants add blue-line help with the signing of Ryan Lowney
The Belfast Giants have bolstered their defensive corps with the signing of American defenceman Ryan Lowney until the end of the season.
The 25-year-old joins from Slovakian side HKM Zvolen and is set to go straight into the line-up for this weekend's double-header against the Nottingham Panthers.
It is an interesting move from the Giants to bring in another defenceman given they boast the Elite League's stingiest defence, conceding on average just 2.09 goals per games.
However, Adam Keefe has made the decision to reinforce the team's back end by bringing in Michigan native Lowney as they aim to solidify their place at the top of the Elite League table.
The 5'8" d-man does join one familiar face on the roster in the form of Curtis Leonard, with the pair team-mates with the Fort Wayne Komets from 2016 to 2018.
An offensive defenceman, Lowney scored 15 goals and 79 points in just 176 contest for the Komets in the ECHL, and his displays in Fort Wayne saw him named the team's Defenceman of the Year last season.
His time on the East Coast came after a decorated college career with Ferris State, which saw him named to the NCAA (WCHA) All-Academic Team for three straight years between 2014 and 2017.
The American blue-liner was part of the Bulldogs side that won the WCHA Championship in 2016, the college's first post-season league championship.
After just 18 games with Zvolen, Lowney asked to be released from his contract after failing to settle in Slovakia, and will now link up with the Giants with the hope that he can boost the league leaders.
"Due to injuries we have been on the lookout for an addition to our team for a few weeks now. Once we knew Ryan was available - we moved quickly to bring him to Belfast," said head coach Keefe.
"He will be a solid addition to our blueline with the ability to contribute on special teams. I know our fans are going to love watching Ryan in action this season."
Where Lowney fits into the puzzle on the Giants' blue-line is one question that will need to be answered, with the team seemingly settled in defence at the moment.
The top defensive pairing of Mark Garside and recently crowned EIHL Player of the Week Kevin Raine is highly unlikely to be broken up, while Patrick Mullen has scored a goal and three points in his three games since returning to the line-up alongside the solid Leonard.
The bottom pairing also looks entrenched, with captain Matt Pelech's physical style popular among fans and Paul Swindlehurst among the British contingent on the roster.
However, a player with Lowney's CV would not be brought in just to play the role of being a spare import, so there perhaps will be something of a shake-up moving forward.
Lowney will wear #55 with the Giants this season.
Belfast Telegraph Digital