New Belfast Giants’ defencemen will bolster the blueline
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And last week’s signing of two new defencemen will help bolster the Giants blueline.
First to be announced was Ontario-born defenceman Jacob Friend who was confirmed for the upcoming 2023/24 season.
Equipped with a strong defensive game, and wearing the #2 jersey, Friend is set to arrive in Belfast off the back of three seasons with ECHL side Jacksonville Icemen; affiliate club of the NHL’s New York Rangers.
The last two seasons, he reached Playoff rounds with the Icemen, shyly missing out on the Kelly Cup championship title each time.
In the earlier days of his ice hockey journey, Jacob Friend spent four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with Owen Sound Attack and earned captaincy for his final season spent with the side in 2017/18.
From the OHL, Friend moved on to play College hockey for Saint Mary’s University with the Saint Mary’s Huskies between 2018 and 2020. Since graduating college, Friend has also iced two loan spells with AHL sides, Charlotte Checkers and Manitoba Moose.
Commenting on the signing of Jacob Friend, head coach Adam Keefe said: “We are excited to add Jacob to our blue line. He’s one of the best shutdown defencemen in the ECHL and will make it difficult for players in other teams. He’s a very capable two-way defenceman, and I think he will also add some offence whilst protecting our blue line.
“Jacob comes highly recommended to us as a tough and strong character guy, with great leadership skills. We look forward to welcoming him to Belfast.”
Speaking of his signing with the Belfast Giants, Jacob Friend said: “I am stoked to join the Belfast Giants for this season. Belfast is renowned for its passionate fan base and close-knit team culture, and I can’t wait to be involved in that legacy.
“I’m looking forward to embracing a new challenge, push myself to new limits, and make memories with my teammates. Here’s hoping we can bring some silverware home, too.”
Next to be announced by Keefe was Canadian defenceman Travis Brown.
Hailing from Winnipeg in the Manitoba province of Canada, Brown is set to hit the ice in Belfast off the back of two consecutive seasons in the highest-level ice hockey League in Denmark – Metal Ligaen with Esbjerg Energy, where he racked up a total of 53 points across 87 games in both campaigns.
Commenting on the latest addition to the Giants’ 2023/24 roster, head coach Adam Keefe said: “We are excited to add Travis to our defensive core.
“He comes to us with great experience playing in different European leagues and in North America, and he’s a bigger defenceman who plays hard on both sides of the puck.
“He skates well and will add offence from the back and will be difficult to play against with his size and physicality.
“All his references have returned to us fitting a common theme – with him having very strong character and being a good person and teammate. He’ll fit in well here in Belfast.”
Dating back to the beginning of his ice hockey career, Travis Brown iced in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Victoria Royals, before moving onto his professional debut in the American Hockey League (AHL) with St John IceCaps in 2015/16.
Since then, Brown’s pro career to date has featured AHL seasons with San Jose Barracuda and San Antonio Rampage, and ECHL stints with Brampton Beast, Allen Americans, Wichita Thunder, and Indy Fuel.
He has also played in Norway, for the 2020/21 season with Stjernen Hockey where he was named as assistant captain.
Anticipating his arrival in Belfast, Travis Brown said: “I am extremely excited to be a part of the Belfast Giants organisation. Speaking with a few former players I have only heard praise about the facilities, staff, the city and most importantly the fans and the people of Belfast.
“The Giants have an established culture of hard work and winning, I’m looking forward to learning and being a part of helping that culture continue.”
Meanwhile it has also been announced that sharp shooter Scott Conway will not be back with the Belfast Giants next season as he has opted to move to the Slovakian league to play for HK Dukla Trencin after several very successful season in Teal. This on top of recent announcements that David Gilbert, Will Cullen, Donovan Neuls, David Goodwin and Henrik Eriksson.