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Belfast Giants add to roster for Bruins exhibition

by Shawn P. Roarke /
The Belfast Giants have added three more players to the roster that will face the Boston Bruins in an exhibition game in Belfast next month.

The game, part of an exhibition slate leading up to Boston's Compuware NHL Premiere Game showdown against the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague the following weekend, features a roster of UK Elite League players taking on the Bruins at Odyssey Arena in Belfast on Sept. 2.

Friday's additions, joining the four players named last week, bring the roster to seven players and add quite a bit of experience into the equation.

Sheffield Steelers coach Ben Simon is probably the most recognizable name to North American hockey fans. Simon, in his first season of UK Elite League competition, played 81 NHL games earlier in his career and played the majority of the past season with the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies.

Forward Scott Matzka of the Cardiff Devils and Nottingham Panthers player/coach Corey Neilson were also added to the team Friday.

They join Coventry's Luke Fulghum and Jonathan Weaver, as well as Belfast's Colin Shields and defenseman Jon Gleed as players named for the Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge game.

Simon, a fifth-round pick of Chicago back in 1997, played his college hockey at Notre Dame before playing 68 games with the Thrashers from 2000 to 2004 and then playing 13 games with Columbus in 2005-06.

Last season, Simon played 44 games with the Toronto Marlies and another 18 with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL before accepting the job as player/coach of the Steelers.

American forward Matzka played his college hockey at the University of Michigan before spending the majority of a two-year minor pro career with the ECHL's Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies. Since, he has played in Germany, Denmark and Sweden as a high-scoring presence.

"Matzka and Simon bring extremely impressive resumes to the EIHL," Belfast coach Doug Christiansen said in a release. "We have added two very skilled forwards who can score. The two of them are veteran players and will be able to adjust to new linemates and systems quickly."

Neilson, a defenseman out of Oromocto, New Brunswick, was a third-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers who played his junior hockey with North bay, Detroit and Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League before spending almost a decade in the minors.

Neilson joined Nottingham in 2006-07 and has scored 210 points in his four seasons with the Panthers. Last season, Nielson had 67 points in 65 games as Nottingham made it to the semifinals of the Elite league playoffs.

Belfast plays Nottingham this weekend in league action and Christiansen says he will spend some time discussing other additions to the Giants select team from the Panthers.

"We would expect to have a few of the Panthers in the lineup against the Bruins and I am sure I will catch up with Corey this weekend to discuss his views on his own guys," Christiansen said. "We have a tough weekend of games to start the season, but at least I will get to see some of the league's best players and talk to two of the other coaches involved in this game."

Belfast plays Nottingham and Cardiff this weekend after defeating Coventry last weekend in the season-opening Charity Shield exhibition game.

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