Ballymoney-born netminder Andrew Dickson returns for his eleventh season. A beloved figure among the Teal Army, ‘Dicko’ now finds himself among the longest tenured Giants in club history, with four Elite League titles and three Challenge Cups to his name.
Veteran Scottish defenceman Mark Garside is also back, for what will be his 12th season as a Belfast Giant, making him the longest-serving active player, with a list of accolades to prove it. Last season’s EIHL League and Challenge Cup double bring his total haul in teal to a staggering 10 trophies.
And last but by no means least, Toronto born forward Mark Cooper will make a welcome return to Belfast after a stellar debut season in 2021/22. With an eye for a big goal in a big game, Cooper wrote his name into Belfast hockey lore, when he found an equalising goal on the road in Nottingham with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock before an eventual Giants overtime victory; a moment that many saw as a turning point in the title race.
The Giants have made a big statement of intent with signings in recent weeks. This latest announcement follows news of the return of Coach Adam Keefe, and the re-signings of Ciaran Long, Ben Lake, Jeff Baum and captain, David Goodwin.
The latest signing news was announced during a special live A View from The Bridge podcast broadcast on Tuesday evening, aptly named ‘Treble Tuesday’.
With a core group of proven performers returning from last year’s double trophy winning season, the Giants’ roster is beginning to take shape for 2022/23.
Commenting on the announcement, head coach Adam Keefe said: “We’re excited to welcome Dicko, Garside and Coops back for another season. In this group we have a rare blend of character, experience, commitment and determination to get the job done. All three of these players made a big impact, in the dressing room, on the ice and with our fanbase and were integral to our success last season. They know what it takes to win in Belfast and share our hunger to defend and chase more trophies.”
In recent weeks, forwards JJ Piccinich, Jordan Boucher and defenceman Cam Knight who were part of the hugely successful 2021/22 roster have confirmed that they will not be returning to Belfast, as they take up new opportunities elsewhere.
Commenting on this news, Coach Keefe said: “We pride ourselves on helping players chart a meaningful career path and there’s no doubt that makes Belfast an interesting proposition to prospective players. It’s always gratifying to see players grow, as they progress to other Leagues and teams in Europe and further afield but also as they make their next moves towards a life after hockey. Whilst we always want to hold on to talent where we can, we will never stand in the way of genuine opportunities. We wish JJ, Bouch and Cam every success with their new ventures.”
Further signings are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Season tickets for the 2022/23 season are on sale now.
MORE ABOUT OUR LATEST SIGNINGS
ANDREW DICKSON | #35 | BALLYMONEY, NORTHERN IRELAND, UK
The importance of Andrew Dickson cannot be measured by stats and appearances. The long-time backup netminder does much of his hard work behind closed doors in practice, and his willingness to go the extra mile in team preparations has also endeared him to scores of Belfast Giants players who have played in the city.
Dickson has also demonstrated his ability to get the job done when called upon, most recently securing an OT win over the Sheffield Steelers as the Giants closed out the 21-22 regular season at The SSE Arena back in April.
Commenting on his return to Belfast, he said: “Coming back last season after a forced break due to the pandemic, I think we all realised – players and fans – how much this team means to us and to this city. I am proud to continue to play my part in the Giants’ story and the impact this club has both on and off the ice. I look forward to another season and to hearing that unmistakable roar of the Teal Army at The SSE Arena in September.”
MARK GARSIDE | #7 | EAST KILBRIDE, SCOTLAND, UK
Mark Garside has earned himself legend status on these shores since arriving from the Edinburgh Capitals back in 2010. Entering his 12th season in teal, Garside is the longest serving active Belfast Giant.
Last season’s EIHL League and Challenge Cup double brought his total haul in teal to a staggering 10 trophies. He has also collected no less than five World Championship medals as a Team GB international and was fittingly awarded a testimonial match by the Odyssey Trust in 2020, in recognition of outstanding service to the club.
A versatile defenseman and face-off specialist who can also play in the centre, Garside revels in the gritty and thankless aspects of the game that many others shy away from. He is also now an invaluable source of knowledge to younger Giants players in the earlier stages of their careers.
Commenting on re-signing for his 12th season in teal, he said: “I’m looking forward to coming back and pulling on the teal jersey for another season. It’s meant a lot to me to play a part in the Giants success over all these years in a city I’m proud to call a second home. Winning here matters – to the coaches, players, and the fans – and that never gets old.”
MARK COOPER | #26 | TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
Cooper arrived in Belfast from the ECHL’s Carolina Stingrays, where he was an Assistant Captain for two seasons. His ability to score goals led to frequent call-ups to the AHL stretching all the way back to his first pro contract out of college.
During his debut season for the Belfast Giants 30-year-old right winger, Mark Cooper was awarded an Alternate Captaincy by Adam Keefe last year. The 30-year-old from Toronto, Ontario played a huge role in the Giants’ 2021/22 EIHL League and Cup Championship double
Playing on the second line, Cooper’s offensive contribution was huge; notching 30 goals and 40 assists for a total of 70 points in 65 games played.
Commenting on his return to Belfast for 2021/22 he said: “I had a great time in Belfast last year and can’t wait to get back for another season. Playing in front of such a passionate fanbase was a big influence on my decision. You can’t buy that sort of support and as a player, that energy and atmosphere is a huge motivator; it makes you hungry to win trophies. People talked about ‘Belfast or nowhere’ last season and I understand that now – I’m coming back hungry to win more trophies for the city of Belfast.”