Champions Hockey League Beckons For Belfast Giants

The Belfast Giants have accepted an invitation to compete in next season’s Champions Hockey League.

The tournament, launched in 2014-15, features teams from the top tier of ice hockey across Europe.

The news comes following Continental Cup Champions Arlan Kokshetau’s ineligibility on the grounds of logistics for other travelling teams.

The Giants narrowly missed out on the Continental Cup Championship in an electrified final in Belfast’s SSE Arena- losing the game in agonising fashion on sudden death penalty shots.

IIHF Continental Cup Final - Belfast Giants v Arlan Kokshetau
Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 13th January 2019 – Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Belfast GiantsÕ Blair Riley with Arlan KokshetauÕs Vadim Yermolayev during Sunday nights Ôwinner-takes-allÕ IIHF Continental Cup Final game at the SSE Area, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

CHL CEO Martin Baumann has called Belfast “as competitive as Arlan” due to the nature in which the final ended, and has no qualms about the inclusion of the team following impressive CHL showings by other EIHL clubs in previous years.

The Giants turned down their last invitation to compete in the tournament- meaning the Nottingham Panthers were handed the opportunity.

It was an opportunity that they simply couldn’t pass up again.

With the EIHL Title chase looking increasingly like a two horse race, Belfast’s inclusion on Continental Cup grounds practically guarantees the Cardiff Devils a second spot as either league winners or runners up.

Odyssey Trust CEO Robert Fitzpatrick has called it a “proud moment” for the organisation- stressing the rapid growth of the sport in Northern Ireland, and the ever increasing need for additional ice facilities to accommodate its popularity.

This was echoed by Head of Hockey Operations Steve Thornton in an exclusive interview on this week’s Official Giants Podcast ‘A View From The Bridge’, where he discussed the CHL invitation and much more.

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