November 17, 2011

Get Real Hockey Guide to the Belfast Giants

Home Rink: The Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Colours: Teal, White, Red

The Belfast Giants have been one the success stories of the last 10 years not just in ice hockey terms but culturally as well. Formed for the start of the 2000 Superleague season the team has become part of the fabric of British ice hockey managing to be competitive every season and bringing in some of the biggest names the UK has seen. All this has been done whilst succeeding where no other sport has by representing an entire community that has all too often been divided by politics, economics and religion. The result is that with its city center bars, restaurants, hotels, arena and the Giants, Belfast is now one of the premier locations in Europe to watch a game.

Formed for the start of the 2000 Superleague season the Giants have been well backed from the start including playing in the Odyssey Arena that opened the same year. The team quickly established itself has a front runner winning their first title the next season. The following year the team were runners up in the league but won the play off title.

The change to the Elite League however has led to somewhat leaner times given their start in hockey life. The team did however win the Elite League title in 2006 and the won the knock out and Challenge Cup in 2009 as well as 2010 play offs. It is though the league title that the side is desperate for and currently sits at the top the EIHL table.

There have been three other notable points of Belfast history. In 2003 the Belfast Giants represent the UK at the Continental Cup Finals (Europe’s premier club competition at that time). Then for the 2005-2006 season they pulled off the biggest coup in British ice hockey history by signing former Calgary Flames legend Theo Fleury. If that was not big enough then to mark their tenth anniversary the Belfast Giants formed a select all star team to face the touring Boston Bruins.

The Bruins were on their preseason European tour before opening the season in Prague and headed to Belfast to celebrate with the team in a place dear to Bostonians hearts. The Bruins won the game 5-1 but the Giants and UK national team goalie Stephen Murphy kept a shutout in his period.

The prospects look good for Belfast and the continuing rumours of an EIHL team in Dublin may lead to a derby in the Odyssey. In the meantime however their hunt for the elusive league title goes on.

Belfast Stats

League Titles: 2

Playoff Titles: 2

Challenge Cup Titles: 1

Neil Tucker

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