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Winger Jordan Smotherman confirms he will not be returning to the Belfast Giants

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Belfast Giants forward Jordan Smotherman hoists the Elite League trophy (William Cherry/Presseye)

Belfast Giants forward Jordan Smotherman hoists the Elite League trophy (William Cherry/Presseye)

William Cherry/Presseye

Belfast Giants forward Jordan Smotherman hoists the Elite League trophy (William Cherry/Presseye)

Belfast Giants winger Jordan Smotherman has announced on Instagram he will not be returning for next season after one-and-a-half years with the club.

The 34-year-old arrived in Belfast in February 2019 and proceeded to be instrumental in helping the Giants win both the Elite League and Challenge Cup that season.

Smotherman also quickly became a fan favourite at the SSE Arena, notably for his mad-cap overnight dash from Germany to Belfast to dress for his Giants debut when the team were hit by injuries, but also for his off-ice demeanour.

The former Atlanta Thrashers forward is the first Giant to confirm he will not be returning next season as the team continue to navigate assembling a team amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

"My time in Belfast opened the door for some amazing friendships and some of the best moments of my hockey career," said Smotherman in his Instagram post.

"From the moment I landed in Belfast I felt that I truly belonged to something incredibly special and something that extended far beyond the game being played on the ice.

"Fans, friends, you welcomed me in and made Belfast like a second home to me and it will forever feel that way, for that I cannot thank you enough.

"With the uncertainty of the future and with the current state of the world I will be staying here in North America next season.

"Even thought I will not be returning to the Giants I will always bleed teal and wish nothing but success and good things to everyone involved in the organization."

In total, Smotherman leaves having made 86 appearances in teal, scoring 30 goals and 70 points, however his impact on the squad went far beyond just his scoring prowess.

A mid-season arrival from German side Iserlohn Roosters in the 2018-19 season, Smotherman was an immediate hit, starting his debut against the Nottingham Panthers and ending up on the scoresheet after racing to Belfast overnight.

Things only got better from there as Smotherman then went on to score the overtime winner in the Challenge Cup final against the Guildford Flames in Cardiff as the Giants retained their title with a 2-1 win.

In the league campaign, the Oregon native was just as key, scoring six goals and 14 points down the stretch as Belfast pipped rivals the Cardiff Devils on goal difference to win their first league title since 2014.

This season, Smotherman had another big year offensively for the Giants, leading the team in scoring with 17 goals and 47 points in 60 games, as well as stepping up into a player-coach role with the squad.

Belfast Telegraph