The Stena Line Belfast Giants are pleased to announce the signing of starting netminders Stephen Murphy and Jackson Whistle for the 2016/17 Elite League season. Murphy returns for his eighth season with the Giants and Whistle joins from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.
Stephen Murphy joined in 2009 when Steve Thornton signed the Scot from the Manchester Phoenix. The Giants went on to win their second ever Playoff Championship at the end of Murphy’s first season in Belfast with the netminder starring in the penalty shots win in the grand final against the Cardiff Devils.
Since Murphy’s debut season in Northern Ireland, he has been the backbone of the Giants team, collecting All-Star awards and winning the British Netminder of the Year award on eight occasions on his way to backstopping the organisation to Elite League titles in the 2011/12 and 2013/14 seasons.
Jackson Whistle joins the Giants from the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL) following four seasons there after being traded from the Vancouver Giants where he made his debut at the age of 16. During Whistle’s time in Kelowna, his average GAA was 2.43 with an average save percentage of .919. In 2014/15 the 21 year old 6’1” netminder backstopped the Rockets to their first WHL championship since 2009 and agonisingly lost out in overtime in the final of the CHL’s Memorial Cup.
Whistle, who played his junior hockey in the UK and will count as a non-import player in the EIHL, has a surname that will be familiar to many Giants fans as his father David was the first ever Head Coach of the Giants, bringing a league title and a playoff championship to Belfast in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
Steve Thornton, Giants Head of Hockey Operations, on the signings of Stephen Murphy and Jackson Whistle:
“The decision to sign Stephen Murphy is one of the easiest for me to make each year. Murphy has been the backbone of our organisation since I signed him back in 2009 and has backstopped us to a Playoff title as well as two Elite League championships.”
“I am excited to bring Jackson Whistle to Belfast. First and foremost, he is an excellent goalie with impressive stats in the WHL for the Kelowna Rockets and helped them win the championship in 2015. He is a big goalie at 6’1” and I expect him to compete with Stephen Murphy for the starting netminding duties this season.”
“It is also great to have a Whistle back in Belfast with Jackson following in the footsteps of his father David who was the Giants inaugural coach and left a great legacy behind in Belfast, giving us two of our championship banners.”