Widely referred to as the “heartbeat” of the club, the upcoming 2023/24 season will mark Keefe’s seventh as head coach of the Giants, with fellow club legends Stewart and Awada returning as assistant coaches.
Steve Thornton, head of hockey operations at the Stena Line Belfast Giants, said: “We’re delighted that Adam will, once again, take charge of the team, assisted by Rob and George.
“The 2022/23 season was like no other, epitomised by winning the domestic treble for the first time in the club’s history. Determined to build on that success, we are confident that Adam, Rob, and George’s wealth of experience and knowledge – both on and off the ice, will steer the team towards another successful season.”
Over the past 13 years, as a player between 2011 and 2017 and head coach between 2017 and 2023, Adam Keefe has played a critical role in the team’s successes – both on and off the ice.
Keefe won his first Elite League title as a player in his debut season for the Giants in 2011/12, before going on to be crowned EIHL Erhardt Conference champion in 2012/13, and, again, Elite League champion in 2013/14 with the men in teal.
Commenting on re-signing for the 2023/24 season, Adam Keefe said: “I’m really pleased to be returning for another season with the Belfast Giants, following what was a truly memorable 2022/23 campaign.
“Delivering the treble to the city of Belfast and for our incredible fanbase is one of my proudest Giants’ memories, and while summer provides an ideal opportunity to reflect and take stock, there’s no time to waste. We have our sights firmly fixed on building and developing a team that will help us to defend our titles throughout the coming season.”
Since swapping his stick for a suit, Keefe has led the Giants to eight pieces of silverware – four Challenge Cups, three Elite League titles, and one Elite League Playoff title.
The news of the return of Keefe, Awada and Stewart came hot on the heels of the disappointing news that defender Sam Ruopp, who had spent two years in Belfast, would not be returning as a Giant next season. Instead Ruopp has made the decision to sign for Lausitzer Füchse in Germany.
Sporting advisor with the club, Jens Baxmann told their website: “In Sam we get a seasoned defender who has played a strong season and already has international experience.
“He has a good range and shows a strong physical presence. Sam should play a central role in our defensive network and take responsibility.”
Ruopp’s exit from the Giants was hot on the heels of the departure of forward Steve Owre has signed a deal which sees him move to Pioneers Vorarlberg in the ICEHL in Austria for next season.
Speaking to the Pioneers’ website Owre said: “I’m really happy that the change has come about this time. I think I can help the team with my fast, skilful game. We want to reach the playoffs together, and I want to contribute to that with my creativity on the offensive.”
Belfast Giants season tickets for the 2023/24 season are on sale now.
Meanwhile fixture dates for CHL (Champions Hockey League) and domestic EIHL home games will be announced in the coming weeks.
Next week will see the CHL drawn next Wednesday (May 24), the Giants are in Pot D along with Vitkovice Ridera of the Czech Republic, France’s Rouen Dragon, the Stavanger Oilers from Norway, Denmark’s Aalborg Pirates and Slovakia’s HC Kosice.