Belfast Telegraph

Long places Giants glory above his personal goals

 

Prolific scorer: Ciaran Long could be one of the Giants’ key off-season signings
Prolific scorer: Ciaran Long could be one of the Giants’ key off-season signings
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

While it's the eye-catching import additions that always have the fans most excited during the off-season, sometimes it's the British arrivals that can end up being some of the more effective.

In that vein, English winger Ciaran Long could sneak under the radar as one of the more important arrivals in Belfast this off-season as the Giants rebuilt their roster.

The 28-year-old was the Manchester Storm's second-highest goalscorer last season with 25 (17th in the league) and finished third in points scoring with 60 (18th), making him one of the league's most dangerous forwards from last season.

Indeed, the Birmingham native is coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 17 goals for the Storm, and if he produced at the same rate for the Giants then no doubt head coach Adam Keefe would be thrilled with one of his summer acquisitions.

It'll be a tall order given Long won't see as much ice time in Belfast as he did in Manchester, but he certainly has the tools at his disposal to produce another big season, even if he himself isn't big on counting stats.

"To be honest, I'm not worried about (the points) side of the game. I came here to win trophies and if we do that then I'll be happy," says Long.

"I've only been here for three weeks, so I'm just trying to concentrate on getting myself back up to match speed and hopefully that will lead into a good season."

His strong campaign with Manchester last year looked certain to give Long a spot on the Great Britain roster for their World Championship bow over the summer, but he was ultimately not selected in the final roster to go to Kosice.

However, the former GB Under-20 ace hasn't let that get him down and he's determined to put himself back in the mix for February's Olympic qualifiers with a strong campaign for the Giants.

"If I keep getting my performances going well, we'll see what happens in February," he says.

"If I can impress Adam (Keefe, who is also assistant coach with GB) leading up to it and keep my performances consistent enough then hopefully I'll get a look in."

The Giants welcome Herning Blue Fox to the SSE Arena tonight and tomorrow (both face-offs 7pm) for their final two exhibitions before making their Champions League debut on Thursday night against Czech giants Bili Tygri Liberec in Belfast.

Head coach Keefe is likely to rotate his lines to try out some combinations, while netminder Shane Owen is likely to sit out one of the friendlies against the Danes having played both games against Mora IK last weekend.

"The results don't really make a difference, although winning is a good feeling, but the performances were really good. I feel like we all stuck to the system and we had very few breakdowns," says Long of the two games against Mora.

"We're just going to keep getting better hopefully. The more we're together, the more we're on the ice, the quicker we're going to get, and that'll only help when we play the CHL games."

• The Belfast Giants' SNL team have announced that former Giants right winger Adam Robinson will be their captain for their inaugural season.

The team have also announced the signing of left winger Steven McMillen.

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