Belfast Giants ice hockey player Mark Garside is being recognised for his years of service to the club with a testimonial game featuring teammates past and present.
The versatile No 7, who can play at centre or defence – and even turn his hand to playing guitar, as attendees at his draft night at the Empire Music Hall can attest – has spent 10 years in teal.
Garside is the latest Scottish-born, Belfast-based stalwart to be honoured with a testimonial, following in the footsteps of netminder Stephen Murphy and now retired forward Colin Shields.
The 30-year-old East Kilbride native first joined the Giants in 2010, after four years with the Edinburgh Capitals, and has helped them to numerous trophies – including three Elite League titles and two Challenge Cup titles.
Garside has also been a regular in the Team GB national side for seven seasons and clinched gold in the 2017 World Championships hosted in Belfast – the team’s first in 24 years.
His testimonial game saw Team East Kilbride, captained by current Giants captain Matt Pelech, take on Team Fife, captained by current Giants defenceman Curtis Leonard.
As well as the current squad and coaches, those taking part included fan favourites from previous seasons, including the likes of Steve Saviano, Spiro Goulakos, Jonathan Boxill, and Matt Towe.
A host of other former Giants have also been sending their well wishes for “Gary’s Day”.
The testimonial game got underway at the SSE Arena Belfast at 7pm.
Meanwhile, the Giants organisation is also celebrating after winning a marketing award honouring the most creative and active club in promoting the Champions Hockey League.
The team competed in Europe’s top hockey contest at the start of the season, after being awarded a place for clinching the silver medal in the Continental Cup – and then qualifying outright as Elite League champions.
The Giants earned high praise for its marketing campaigns, considerable engagement on social media channels, and partnerships with tourism organisations, as well as hosting the CHL trophy for a promotional tour of Belfast.
Their prestigious award was presented at the recent Champions Hockey League final in Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic.
Sponsorship and Relationship Manager Mark Brooks, Marketing Manager Ann Graham, and Marketing and Communications Executive Rachael Clydesdale accepted the award.
“We are honoured to become the second winners of the Champions Hockey League Marketing Award,” Mark Brooks said.
“We look forward to the Giants qualifying for the CHL again so that we can defend our titles!”