Belfast Telegraph

"I think it'd be so cool to bring a Championship to Belfast": new Giants forward David Goodwin aiming big

New Belfast Giants centre David Goodwin in his SaiPa days
New Belfast Giants centre David Goodwin in his SaiPa days
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

People sometimes think that sports people live thrilling, high octane lives where the excitement never ends.

In some cases - think LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo etc - that may be true. But away from the names at the very pinnacle of world sport, there are still everyday lives to be lived and regular activities to be done.

So, along those lines, it's refreshing to hear that David Goodwin has embraced life in Belfast by going shopping.

"I saw the Christmas markets, that was nice. I had to go down to the post office the other day so I feel like I'm living a very normal life. I went to the Lidl downtown and the grocery store too!" says the Giants' new centreman of his first week in the city.

The trip to the Christmas markets, which was one of his first stops in Belfast after arriving on Monday night, didn't even see him opt to go risky with his food choice, with the kangaroo, ostrich and warthog on the menu a little too outlandish for his tastes.

The St Louis native grins. "I was a little intimidated! That was the first day I was here so I wasn't sure what to buy or what was going on!"

Of course, turning down some exotic food choices does not make Goodwin bland in any way, and seeing him on skates will blow that notion out of the water very quickly. The Giants brought him to revitalise an offense that has hit the buffers in recent weeks, and he looks like the man to do that.

His track record speaks for itself, the 27-year-old 12th on Penn State University's all-time scoring charts, and 25 goals in two years with Finnish Liiga side SaiPa is nothing to be sniffed at. That's the kind of output that the Giants hope they have added to their roster for the remainder of the campaign.

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David Goodwin playing for Penn State University (Pic: Mark Selders)

A down year to start the season with Allsvenskan side Mora IK opened up the opportunity for the move to Belfast to take place, and it was one that neither party shirked away from.

"Steve (Thornton, Giants' head of hockey operations) reached out to my agent. I did some research on the team, the league, and I thought it'd be a good fit," explains Goodwin.

"I played with Curtis Hamilton before, in Finland. He was the first person I reached out to and he had nothing but good things to say about the organisation and the city, and he really recommended I come here. He was the first person I talked to.

"Then I had some friends on other teams in the league - Sam Herr, who's captain in Nottingham, and Nolan LaPorte, who I played junior hockey with - who I was able to talk to about the type of hockey and the level of play.

"They all said good things, so it seemed like a good fit."

Even more importantly, it seems like Goodwin fills the hole that the Belfast offense is currently lacking as a net front presence.

With too many shots coming in from the periphery in games so far, the Giants needed to bring in a big body who wasn't afraid to go into the tough areas around the blue paint. They got it in Goodwin, who insists that's where he does his best work.

"My strengths are my speed and my playmaking ability, so I'm definitely going to be using those assets. I like to get around the net and get some greasy goals. Those are the three things that I feel like I can contribute, so hopefully I can do that and help the team," he states.

"The coaches and Steve did their research on me. They know what kind of player I am and they wouldn't have brought me in if they didn't think I could help."

While there would usually be an acclimatising period for new players where they could find their feet in a new league, Goodwin won't be granted that for two reasons.

Firstly, he's been brought in to rejuvenate that misfiring Belfast offense that has scored just six goals in their last four games - all defeats. He's replaced Jean Dupuy on the roster and is more than likely to take his place in the line-up as third line centre too, while seeing powerplay minutes isn't out of the question either.

Secondly, his debut will come in a massive double-header away to the Cardiff Devils (10-5-0, 20pts, 2nd) on Saturday and Sunday, and you can guarantee the Welsh side will not ease up just because he's making his first appearance.

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Belfast Giants forward David Goodwin in action for SaiPa

Andrew Lord's perennial Elite League challengers haven't had the season they maybe would have liked so far, much in the same way as the Giants themselves, but rest assured they will bring two big performances against Goodwin and his team-mates given the nature of their rivalry.

"Day by day I'm learning more and more (about the Devils)!" admits Goodwin, who has been asking his new team-mates about the challenge they will face at the Viola Arena.

"They're a good club as well, they have good fans like we do. I'm excited to get in there and play another top team. Got to be ready to go straight off the bat. Day by day I'm getting more comfortable here, so by tomorrow I think I'll be excited and ready to go.

"I would love to be able to help the guys out and get things back on track. We have two really tough games coming up and I don't think there's any better way to do it than against Cardiff.

"It seems very tight at the top. If we can go on a little streak we'll be right at the top, and we have a few games in hand so that will benefit us."

If they can get through this rough patch and rediscover the form that saw them win six on the bounce prior to their current losing skid then the Giants are a team capable of winning a trophy. With a Challenge Cup quarter-final against the Devils to come as well, there's a chance to eliminate one of their rivals in their bid to go for three-in-a-row too.

Head coach Adam Keefe has shown he's willing to do what it takes to win, culling Dupuy and Jesse Forsberg this week and bringing in Goodwin and Ryan Lowney in their stead. There is a winning culture at Belfast, and it needed maintained, even if that meant shaking things up a bit.

That thought process, ultimately, is what drove Goodwin to Belfast.

"I think it'd be so cool to bring a Championship to Belfast. You see YouTube videos of the past when they've won, it looks like the city rallies around the team when it comes down to the end. It seems like that'd be really cool to be a part of," he adds.

"My No.1 goal is winning as a team, and then on top of that I want to perform for the team and the fans."

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