The Belfast giants have added wingers Daric Angeli and David Gilbert to their striker ranks this season, while center Tyler Soy has returned to the club for a second season.
ngeli is moving on to reigning Elite League and Challenge Cup champions from the ECHL team at the Florida Everblades, while Gilbert jumps over the water after the season with France’s Rouen.
Meanwhile, Soya is 12th the player announced he was returning from last year’s two-winning team, and the Canadian center ended a season in which he had 17 goals and 37 points in 68 games.
The 25-year-old British Columbian scored a vital goal in the Challenge Cup final, capturing first place from the Giants as they fought back 2-0 to defeat the Cardiff Devils in overtime at the SSE Arena.
It was a very successful first season in Europe for Soy, who joined the Giants from the University of Alberta a year ago and he hopes to build on that when he returns to the Elite League again.
“I am very happy to be back in Belfast. Last year we had an incredible season – the group of guys was amazing, the city was amazing, everything about it was unreal. It made a lot of sense for me to come back to do it all over again,” Soi said.
“Last year was quite successful, we won two out of three trophies. This time we want to achieve a treble and win all three.”
Colorado native Angeli will bring big experience to the Giants after seven seasons in North America split between the AHL and EHL and will join the Everblades after a Kelly Cup winning season.
The 31-year-old will play for the Giants for the first time outside of North America and will be asked to match the performance he showed last season with the Kansas City Mavericks and in Florida.
After starting the season with the Mavericks, where he wore an “A” and scored 28 goals and 65 points in 56 games, he was traded to Florida where he helped them win the Kelly Cup in the playoffs.
Angeli arrives with 118 goals and 305 points in 448 ECHL contests after a successful career at Ohio State College and will now test himself in Europe for the first time.
“I consider myself a big, fast and experienced forward. I think I’m a good guy in the dressing room and I can bring a lot of tools to the game to help us win this season,” he said.
“I talked to Adam (Keef) for a while, and the way he talked about the Giants touched everyone – especially the fans and last year’s championship wins. I want to keep this tradition of winning and play in the KHL (Champions Hockey League) also influenced my decision.”
Gilbert, meanwhile, will be the most experienced player on the Giants roster this season in terms of European experience, having played in France, Hungary and the Czech Republic for the past six seasons.
A former seventh-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009, the 31-year-old arrived in Belfast after a season in which he scored 33 goals and 59 points in 65 games for Rouen in the Great League.
Gilbert also has experience with Bordeaux in the French top division as well as Fehervar AV19 in EBEL while he spent three seasons in Europe with Czech team HC Motor České Budějovice leading them to promotion to the top tier in 2020 and played one season in the Extraliga.
The Quebec native spent seven seasons playing professional hockey in North America before jumping the pond splitting time between the ECHL and AHL after a prolific QMJHL spell with Québec Remparts and Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
The Giants are certainly hoping that Gilbert can repeat his Champions Hockey League success with Rouen last season when he re-enters the competition this season as the Canadian helped the Dragons reach the quarter-finals.
“Earlier in my career I used to play a lot in the center because I was in charge defensively and I was good at the faceoff. Then, during my first year in Europe when I was at Bordeaux, the coach decided to move me to the wing and I saw my offensive performance go up and I have been playing there ever since,” he explained.
“My strengths lie in my attacking skills, my shooting, finding gaps in front of the opposition and my ability to score goals. Last year I had a pretty good season in Rouen in terms of scoring, so I’m entering this season in Belfast with the same mindset and can’t wait to get started.”
Head coach Adam Keefe has been pleased with his latest roster of recruits as he looks to complete his roster for the upcoming season.
“We are very pleased that Tyler Soy has been re-signed for Belfast this season. He brings a dynamic skill set to the team and gives it his all on the ice every time,” he praised. “A true team player and one of the nicest kids I’ve ever worked with. Last year he scored some very important goals for us, which helped us win two trophies.
“Dariq Angeli is 6ft 3” and he will add some desirable size to our forward group. He skates well, he has good eyesight and he will be an attacking threat for us next season. He does not hesitate to use his large physique to get the job done. I think Giants fans will love watching Darik.
“It’s safe to say that newcomer David Gilbert has traveled extensively in his hockey experience, playing in an impressive array of leagues in Canada, the United States, the Czech Republic, France and Hungary. This will be invaluable for our team, especially since this season we will face strong European teams.
“David has a dangerous shot that will give goalkeepers a lot of problems this season. He can play both sides of the puck and will be a solid forward for us this season, both offensively and defensively.
“I am happy with the squad we have created as the start of the season approaches. I sincerely believe that this group of players will do something special and celebrate the success we had last season. A combination of returning and new players with different skills and experiences will create a winning combination on (and off) the ice in Belfast in 2022/23.”