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Injury-hit Giants may bring back old Flame Huppe

By Stuart McKinley

Curtis Huppe is in line to make a return to the Belfast Giants roster, seven years after he left the club.

Now 35, Huppe was part of the Giants team that won the Elite League title in 2006 and he is still among the club's top 10 all-time points scorers.

He was released by the Guildford Flames two weeks ago and he is now preparing to answer an SOS call from Giants coach Steve Thornton as injuries continue to grip his team.

Goaltender Stephen Murphy is still some two months away from making a return and Thornton will also be without Mark Garside and Kevin Saurette for this weekend's games, away to the Hull Stingrays tonight and the Nottingham Panthers tomorrow afternoon, with question marks hovering over three other players.

"Curtis Huppe has been on the ice with us, effectively on trial," revealed Thornton.

"He has left Guildford, he is based in Belfast and he has a British passport, which means he doesn't need a work permit.

"If we get another injury or two and our situation becomes particularly bad he could come straight into the line-up."

The Giants have slipped to fifth in the Elite League table since sitting at the top a month ago.

They do have two games in hand over leaders Braehead Clan, who are six points better off and after speaking out about carrying passengers during last weekend's back-to-back defeats against the Cardiff Devils, Thornton is demanding an improvement.

"I am constantly doing things to change our performances for the better," said Thornton.

"There are some things that I can't control, but if I can do something to up the effort and production levels of players then I want it to happen."

And Thornton hasn't ruled out making personnel if he can identify fresh faces to come in.

"I don't think that I am any different to the other nine coaches in the league in that we are always looking for ways to make our teams the best," said Thornton.

"The problem that we have had isn't simply the injuries, it's who has been injured.

"Last weekend we went into Cardiff, possibly the hardest building in the league to get points from, without three Great Britain national team players - Stephen Murphy, David Phillips and Mark Garside - and last season's top scorer (Saurette)."

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