Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that 2021/22 EIHL League and Cup winning Giants’ forward Slater Doggett will not be returning to Belfast, with Chad Butcher set to don the number 17 jersey when he arrives in Northern Ireland.
The new trio of Canadians are no strangers to each other, having shared locker rooms throughout their respective careers. They also share an existing link to Belfast after playing alongside Giants' defenceman Sam Ruopp at the ECHL’s Allen Americans, a key factor in their decision to cross the Atlantic and pull on the teal jersey.
Commenting on the announcement, head coach Adam Keefe said: “Slater Doggett was a core member of our winning squad last season; we'd like to thank him for his valued contribution and wish him well in his future endeavours. Following our success last season, we knew we would have a gap to fill as some players inevitably move on to other opportunities, or begin their lives after hockey, but that also creates opportunities to bring in fresh talent.
"We’re confident in this trio of players, they will match the intensity and competitive drive that the organisation has ingrained in its core. Colby, Chad and Steve were eager to sign in Belfast because they want to win, and they want to compete in the CHL. They’re well-rounded players who have a built-in chemistry from playing around Western Canada and the ECHL together. Belfast will love Colby’s physical style, and Steve and Chad are proven goal scorers, determined to be a nightmare for opposing goalies. This is definitely a trio that Giants’ fans should get excited about!”
Fans will have an opportunity to preview the new Western Canadian imports at two pre-season games on 20 and 27 August, which are on sale now via Ticketmaster. Tickets for the 2022/2023 Premier Sports Elite League and Challenge Cup home games at The SSE Arena, Belfast will go on sale tomorrow, Friday 15 July, at 12noon. More information and a full list of fixtures are available here.
MORE ABOUT OUR LATEST SIGNINGS
COLBY MCAULEY | #29 | SHERWOOD PARK, ALBERTA, CANADA
Colby McAuley, from Sherwood Park, Alberta, becomes a Giant after making five appearances for the Hershey Bears in the AHL to close out the 2021/22 season; taking his total games played in North America’s second highest tier of hockey to 41.
McAuley has also made 173 ECHL appearances, scoring 54 goals and 66 assists - good for 120 total points. The 6 foot, 185 lbs centreman has also been known to stick up for his teammates when the situation arises; he amassed 330 penalty minutes across five seasons in ‘The Coast’.
A product of the Western Hockey League, McAuley totalled 96 points (44 goals, 52 assists) in 191 games with the Prince George Cougars between 2014 and 2017 and was named Alternate Captain in his final two seasons. He also accumulated 318 penalty minutes, demonstrating his toughness from an early stage in his career.
Commenting on what Giants fans can expect from him, McAuley said: “You’ll see all sides of me. I’ll score goals, I’ll get assists, I’ll be a two-way player and I don’t have any problems dropping the mitts any time. I’m excited and I’m sure Belfast will like it too. It’s my first time going to Europe and knowing that the team did quite a job last year, you’re wanting to do more this year. I’m happy to be a part of the team and I’m here for the ride. I’m excited and can’t wait to get down there!”
STEVE OWRE | #13 | EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA
Steve Owre arrives in Belfast after spending the 2021/22 season with Cergy-Pontoise in France. The Edmonton, Alberta native scored 14 goals and 20 assists in Ligue Magnus, totalling 34 points in 33 games played.
Prior to his season in the ECHL with the Americans in 2020-21, Owre was a USports University Cup Champion in his freshman year with the Alberta Golden Bears. Between 2017 and 2020, he amassed 37 goals and 40 assists totalling 77 points in 84 games played.
Owre was also a prolific point scorer in the WHL, spending his junior career with the Medicine Hat Tigers and wearing an ‘A’ for the team in his final two seasons. Between 2012 and 2017 he scored 74 goals and notched 147 assists for a staggering total of 221 points in 282 games played.
Commenting on his decision to join the Giants, Owre said: “You come to a winning organisation like this and just get really excited to have a chance to win some games and win some trophies. When the opportunity came up, with everything I’ve heard from former players, it ultimately swayed my decision to come to Belfast. Hearing about how awesome they city is, the fans, and how well everything organised is.”
CHAD BUTCHER | #17 | KAMLOOPS, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Chad Butcher, from Kamloops, British Columbia (the home of former Giants Captain Blair Riley) was Owre’s teammate at Medicine Hat between 2012 and 2017, also wearing an ‘A’ for the Tigers in his final two seasons.
Another prolific points scorer at junior level, Butcher scored 259 total points (82 goals, 177 assists) in 301 WHL games played.
The 26-year-old has 27 goals and 65 assists to his name (good for 92 total points) across 127 ECHL games and spent 2019-20 with the Alberta Golden bears where he once again shared a locker room with Steve Owre, alongside familiar EIHL names like Tyler Soy, Trevor Cox, and Cole Sandford.
He has also made 7 AHL appearances throughout his career, along with a brief stint in Sweden with Vita Hasten in 2021-22.
Commenting on his signing, Butcher said: “I was looking at my options over in Europe and there were a few things here at home, but what jumped out to me was what I heard about Belfast from previous teammates was that it was just an unbelievable place to play and a great place to live. They’re playing in the Champions League this year, which is a really good opportunity for us. It was an easy decision in the end. Part of playing hockey is about all the different experiences you can have in different places. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Belfast so I can’t wait, these five weeks can’t go quick enough.”