With another EIHL Championship hanging from the rafters, Stephen Smeeth reflects on one topsy turvy season.
Another hockey season gone and firmly placed in the memory. I know this is very much cliché but it really does only seem like last week when we all came back from our summers refreshed and ready for a brand new campaign. One thing that sticks out for me is the first game back in August against Manitoba. It was the first time we all seen the 2018/19 roster on the ice together. I was in awe. I’m not a fanboy by any means but when I saw the guys skate on for warm-ups I was genuinely excited at what was in front of me. To me they were big, in comparison to previous years. They were fast and they had skill. Something deep inside told me that there was something in this lineup that we had been looking for, for a few years.
With this in mind I knew I was going to have to work overtime and raise some funds because I was most certainly hitting the road this season, more than previous years. I wanted to be a part of what was ahead as much as I could, especially seeing as the fixture schedule didn’t exactly favour us. The actual fixtures themselves were exciting – two double headers against the Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils? I’m on that!
There are far too many games to analyse on one thread but two words can start an entire conversation with whoever reads this: Dustin Johner. Anyone who was lucky enough to be there that day experienced something that can’t be created, sometimes you have to wait years for. Ideally I didn’t really want to single out one person because, you know, Colin Shields, Besko, Paddy Dwyer, Darcy Murphy… a thread could be done for each and every member of this team.
Continental Cup Final
Challenge Cup winners
Offer me that in August and I wouldn’t even entertain such a conversation.
Like every season there comes a blip, and there are meltdowns and we come through it, and to be honest, I wouldn’t want it another way. Another fanbase expect glory from August to April and some would go as far as to think that the league owe it to them. They don’t. And never will. To appreciate success you have to ride a few storms. And we in Belfast have done just that.
David Simms stated that Belfast would be “arrogant” if we won the league. That’s generous, because I planned to show arrogance, cockiness, bragging, goading, over celebrating, and general mischievousness at the ones with short memories who have taken pops at us for 4 or 5 years.
I am heavily invested emotionally and financially in my team. I’m there through thick and thin. And if the day comes when I don’t go through all the emotions that the Belfast Giants offer then that’s the day I call it quits. But for now those emotions are firmly in place. I wrote an article for KOTG at the start of last season highlighting “enjoying the moment” – I hope most of you did. I know I certainly took my own advice and did just that.
Thanks to all the fans for making game night and away trips so much fun. Thanks to the podcast team for doing what they do in giving us a platform and getting us all the information from stats to interviews and analysis.
And thank you to Adam Keefe and the Belfast Giants for a remarkable and incredible season.
Class of 19.
PODCAST: Two One Hockey Games – The Final A View From The Bridge of the season takes you on a journey through the 2019 EIHL Playoff Finals weekend.
A View From The Bridge Podcast, Official Podcast of the Belfast Giants, part of Kingdom Of The Giants.
Stephen got in touch with us to share his thoughts by e-mailing us a KotG.
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Words: Stephen Smeeth
Picture: William Cherry / PressEye