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Belfast Giants Select finalize roster for Bruins

by Shawn P. Roarke
The Belfast Giants Select roster is now complete. Monday, the team added its final four players to the roster that will face off against the Boston Bruins in a 2010 Compuware Premiere Challenge exhibition game on Oct. 7 at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.  

Belfast Giant coach Doug Christiansen, who will coach the Selects, named goalies Craig Kowalski and Ervins Mustukovs, defenseman Tim Cook and forward Mike Hoffman to round out the 23-man roster.

Kowalski, a Nottingham Panther and Mustukovs, a Sheffield Steeler, will battle Belfast's Stephen Murray for the starting goalie job in Saturday's game. Cook and Hoffman are both from the Giants.

Kowalski, who played 11 games for the Norfolk Admirals two years ago, spent last season in Italy's top league and has won five of his first seven games with the Panthers. The 29-year-old native of Michigan began his career playing with the Compuware Ambassadors in the North American Hockey League.

Mustukovs, a Latvian who played in the KHL last year, has been stellar in the early going for the Steelers. In fact, he has four shutouts in his first nine starts. He played one season in the QMJHL and then kicked around in lower-level minor leagues in North America before landing with Dinamo Riga two years ago.

Currently, Mustukovs leads the league with the lowest goals -against average (1.88) and the highest save percentage at 93.7 percent.

Cook, a draft pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2003, is in his second season with Belfast. Last season, he was nominated for the EIHL's Top Defenseman Award after putting up 31 points in 55 games.

Cook played in the USHL and then with the University of Michigan before spending a year and a half in the ECHL. Two seasons ago, Cook played in Denmark's top league.

Up front, Brandon Benedict's misfortune proved to be the good fortune of Belfast teammate Mike Hoffman. Benedict was slated to be the final forward on the Selects, but an injury during the weekend has ruled him out for six weeks. Hoffman steps into the spot.

Hoffman, at 6-5 and 235 pounds, brings size and strength to the Select roster. The native of Scituate, Mass., has 6 goals and 3 assists in his first 8 games with the Giants. Hoffman split last season between the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack and the ECHL's Florida Everblades. He has also played with Manchester, Chiocago, Portland and Toronto in the AHL during a seven-year pro career.

Belfast's Brett Hemmingway will skate with the Selects as an extra forward and potential injury replacement. His brother, Colin, is one of the 13 forwards named to the team.

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