Morrison back with Belfast Giants
Mark Morrison last night answered an SOS call from Belfast Giants coach Doug Christiansen as he attempts to keep the team’s winning run going while in the depths of a player shortage.
Injuries to Benoit Doucet, Robert Dowd, James Hutchinson and Darryl Lloyd, as well as Aaron Clarke’s six-match suspension, left Christiansen with a seriously depleted squad and with it being nigh on impossible to bring in someone new at this time of the season, Christiansen has looked closer to home for the answer to his numbers problem.
Belfast-born Morrison, who spent seven years as a Giants player before he bowed out on a high after the 2010 Play-off victory, will pull on the jersey again against the Edinburgh Capitals at the Odyssey Arena.
It was only on Wednesday night that Morrison joined the Giants squad for practice and less than 48 hours later he will be thrust into the midst of the Elite League title battle.
Having won the league with the Giants in 2006 it is a battle that he has experience of and with five games in the next 11 nights for Christiansen’s men, having the necessary injury cover is vital if title hopes are to be maintained.
“I was invited to skate with the guys on Wednesday night, thinking that it was just for practice with the team being short, but afterwards I was offered the chance to play a few games starting on Friday night,” said Morrison.
“I don’t know how long I will be involved. I will see how the first couple of games go and take things from there.”
And Morrison’s return, 18 months after the last of his 343 games for his hometown club, means the family Christmas that he and wife Kate were expecting to have and a break from the computer repair business he runs in Newtownards have had to be altered.
“I had plans for Christmas, but they’ll have to be let go now,” said Morrison.
“I wasn’t going to turn down the offer of a return to the Giants team and I’m really looking forward to getting onto the ice at the Odyssey again.
“I’ll have to try to get to full fitness quite quickly. I’ve been watch a lot of games this season and it’s a fast team that Doug has put together, so I have to try to keep up with those guys.
“It’s a small team as well, so at least I’ll be fine that way as I’m not the tallest myself.”
Christiansen’s search for a longer term solution continues, but in the meantime he’s happy to have a proven player like Morrison available to him in his hour of need.
“Last weekend against Dundee we were really up against it having to play with a short bench,” said Christiansen.
“Bringing back Mark Morrison will give us more options. He is a legend here in Belfast.
“He has been training with the guys a few days this week and is excited about getting back on the ice in front of the Odyssey faithful.”
There was no afternoon off for Morrison’s new Giants team-mates yesterday. Instead of resting and relaxing before tonight’s game they were busy distributing the soft toys collected at last Saturday night’s ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ to babies and children at the Ulster Hospital and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
Over 200 soft toys were collected on the night and there were none left over after yesterday’s two visits.
“We’ve had a lot on for the children in the build-up to Christmas and it’s particularly nice to have a visit from the Belfast Giants players. A lot of the children are aware of the Giants, mainly the older ones,” said Jenne McDonald, Play Development co-ordinator at the Royal.
“There was a lot of anticipation and excitement among the children ahead of the visit — and from the staff too.”