In a night of high drama the Belfast Giants have achieved their 5th league title following the Cardiff Devils 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Coventry Blaze.
The Giants finish the season on level points with the Cardiff Devils but take the title on the tie breaker of most wins. Adding a 3rd trophy, and the most precious of all, in a remarkable season for Adam Keefes men.
The Giants ensured the Devils needed at least a point from their trip to the SkyDome by taking the win last night over the Dundee Stars. Yet withe the Blaze having already qualified for the playoffs and fighting for little more than pride and preventing the Devils from lifting the title on their ice, few in teal had great hope for the chips to fall in their favour.
How we were wrong. Despite the title being in the hands of the Cardiff Devils, goals from Bryhnisveen, Clements and an empty netter from Ben Lake sealed the fate of their opponents and sent the title across the Irish Sea to an ecstatic Giants team who were just about to tuck into their Awards evening.
An Awards evening now capped off by the ultimate prize in UK Hockey.
The Giants were, only a couple of months ago, 11 points behind a Devils side on the drive for a third title on the bounce, a feat never achieved in UK hockey’s top division. Those 11 points were whittled away as the Giants maintained an unbeaten home streak. 19 domestic victories in the SSE Arena in 2019 concluding with #19 bringing the SSE Arena to its feet, as he marked his forthcoming retirement to the applause of thousands on Queens Island.
3 trophies in the bag for Adam Keefe in only his second season as head coach of the Giants. A remarkable achievement. And one more to fight for.
The Coventry Blaze will arrive in Belfast on Saturday for the first leg of the Playoff Quarter Finals. They will no doubt receive a very warm welcome for their efforts this evening. But once that puck drops, there’s one more trophy on the minds of what is without doubt, one of the all-time great Belfast Giants teams.
Words: Patrick Smyth
Photos: William Cherry