The Belfast Giants Select Team, which will play the Boston Bruins
in a Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge game in Belfast in October, named its first four players on Tuesday.
The announcement was made the day before the UK Elite League opens its 2010-11 season with the Charity Shield game between the Belfast Giants and Coventry Blaze. Appropriately, the four players come from the rosters of those two teams.
Forward Luke Fulghum
and defenseman Jonathan Weaver
of the Blaze were named to the all-star roster, joining Giants forward Colin Shields
and defenseman Jon Gleed
as the initial played named to take on the Bruins in the Oct. 2 game.
"Make no mistakes about this, the Bruins are bringing the real deal to Belfast in October," said Coventry Blaze coach Paul Thompson
, on of the three coaches of the Giants Select team. "We want to ensure the guys we select can skate at the NHL level and can handle the size and skill that the Bruins players will have.
"The Bruins are some of the best athletes in the world, and our guys will need to be at their best, and we need the best from the entire league. My guys will be ready and I am confident that we can put together a competitive squad to face off with the Bruins in October."
Fulghum certainly fits that bill after leading all goal scorers last season in the Elite League, scoring an incredible 54 in 65 games and pacing his team in scoring with 92 points in his first season with the Blaze.
Fulghum, 30, is from Colorado Springs and played in the USHL and with the University of Denver before spending three years in North American minor leagues before landing in the UK Elite League in 2008.
Weaver, meanwhile, led all UK Elite defensemen in scoring, putting up 77 points in 65 games. The 33-year-old has been named the league's defenseman of the year for three years running and he served as Great Britain's national team captain at the most recent World Championships.
Shields, another player from the Great Britain national team, was the league's leading scorer last season, posting 106 points in 68 games.
The 30-year-old from Glasgow was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers
in 2000 (No. 195) and played for the University of Maine and several North American minor pro teams. Last year, he served as captain of the Giants as they claimed the league championship.
Gleed, 26, is a stay-at-home Canadian defenseman joining the UK Elite League this season after spending the past two years with the American Hockey League's Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Gleed, from Milton, Ont., played college hockey for Cornell and was drafted by Montreal in 2004.
Giants coach Doug Christiansen
believes naming the four players to the Select roster Tuesday is the first step in fashioning a lineup that can give the Bruins a run for their money and showcase the skill level present in the UK Elite League.
“Myself, Paul and Gerad Adams
(Cardiff) are batting around ideas and player names and the prospects are exciting," Christiansen said. "We don't have much time to see all the league players and there are some obvious choices and some players that will play themselves onto this team during the first couple of weeks.
"Our job is to put together the best team to face the Bruins and we need to take the individual strengths of each potential player and make sure they fit into our plans for this game."