The Belfast Giants will start the 2012-13 EIHL season with five Ontario Hockey League grads on the roster. Of the five, two are returning for their second season with the Irish club. This year, the ten team league splits into two ‘groups’, the Gardiner and Erhardt with Belfast being in the Erhardt.
Will Colbert captained the Ottawa 67’s in 2004-05, his last of three years with the OHL team. Colbert entered the NHL Entry Draft twice, going to the Ottawa Senators in 2003 and the San Jose Sharks in 2005. Will spent the 2011-12 season with the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL, his second year with the team.
Andrew Fournier also brings a history of leadership to the Giants, acting as captain of the Plymouth Whalers in 2007-08, his fifth with the team. Undrafted, Fournier spent three years in the ECHL before playing for Olofstroms in Sweden’s Division 1 for the 2011-12 season. For the past three seasons, Andrew has produced at better than a point per game.
Adam Keefe returns for his second season with Belfast. In 2011-12, Keefe wore the ‘A’ while contributing decent offense and spending his trademark amount of time in the penalty box with 230 PIM over 57 games. Adam played five years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2000-01 to 2004-05 with the Sudbury Wolves and Kitchener Rangers. Undrafted, he spent several years mostly in the AHL before jumping the pond.
Darryl Lloyd played three years in the OHL from 2001-02 to 2003-04, all with the Windsor Spitfires. After five years in the ECHL, Lloyd played his first year with the Giants in 2011-12, contributing 37 points in 41 games.
Gregory Stewart brings 28 games of National Hockey League experience to the Giants. Stewart was an eighth round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 2004 and played all his NHL games with the club between 2007-08 and 2009-10. Gregory played three years with the Peterborough Petes from 2003-04 to 2005-06. 2011-12 was spent in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays.
An interesting fact about these five OHL grads is that four of the five played in the Memorial Cup:
Will Colbert – 2004-05
Andrew Fournier – 2006-07
Adam Keefe – 2002-03
Gregory Stewart – 2005-06
As for the Belfast Giants, the team plowed through the regular season in 2011-12, winning 46 of 54 games. The team was then upset in the semi-finals. The third seed Nottingham Panthers beat the fourth seed Cardiff Devils to be crowned EIHL playoff champions.