The Belfast Giants have further reinforced their defence for the upcoming season with the signing of former Yale University defenceman Matt Foley.
The American blue-liner makes the move to the Giants from ECHL side Wheeling Nailers and will look to reinforce their league-leading defence from last season, which conceded the least goals in the Elite League.
Foley, 27, is a Friendship Four alumnus having represented the Yale Bulldogs in Belfast in 2018 and now returns to play for the Giants in his first professional season outside of North America.
He follows in the footsteps of the likes of Scott Conway, Liam Morgan, Darcy Murphy and new team-mate Jeff Baum as players who competed in the college tournament to go on and represent the Giants, all of whom have had success during their spells in Belfast.
Primarily a stay-at-home defenceman, Foley has not been a big points producer during his career but he is a reliable player in his own end, which will suit the Giants’ resolute defensive style.
“I’m defensive first, but I like to make a pass and move up the ice with my legs, try to stay connected to the rush and contribute to the offense. First and foremost, it’s about keeping the puck out of my net and being hard to play against. That’s something I take a lot of pride in,” said Foley, who will wear #24 in Belfast.
The Massachusetts native is coming off a season where he played 35 games for the Nailers, scoring just two goals and six points while playing to a -5 rating in leading them to the play-offs, and his performances saw him get two AHL call-ups to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Tuscon Roadrunners.
During his college career, Foley represented Yale on 88 occasions, notching two goals and 18 points while racking up a -8 rating, and helped them secure a third place finish at the 2018 Friendship Four in Belfast.
In all four of his seasons with the Bulldogs, the defenceman was named to the ECAC All-Academic Team, which reflects both sporting and academic success in a season.
“We had a great group of guys. We didn’t always win, but we were competitive every year. It was a great four years for me, I developed both as a player, and as a person,” said Foley on his colllege career.
"I was in Belfast in 2018 for the Friendship Four and I loved Belfast as a city. The club and the Arena made a good impression on me, at that point it struck up the idea in my head that this would be a cool place to play. It’s exciting to know that I'm coming back.”
Foley joins returnees Jeff Baum and Mark Garside and fellow new signing Gabe Bast in the Giants’ defence as they look to re-tool for their title defence in the upcoming season.
“Coming through NCAA hockey with Yale, and his experience in the ECHL with the Wheeling Nailers for the last two seasons, I have no doubt that Foley will be a robust asset in our defensive zone. We look forward to welcoming another new face to Belfast this season,” said head coach Adam Keefe.