Adam Keefe, Head Coach of the Stena Line Belfast Giants, is ‘excited’ for the challenge that lies ahead this weekend as Belfast plays host to a European final for the first time.
The International Ice-Hockey Federation Continental Cup Final sees the champions of Belarus, Poland and Kazakstan travelling to Belfast to face the Giants in a festival of ice-hockey at The SSE Arena this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
There will be six tournament games in total across the three days with the Giants facing Gomel (Belarus) 7pm Friday, Katowice (Poland) 7pm Saturday and Arlan (Kazakstan) 5pm Sunday.
The Continental Cup Final is a group stage and the four teams will play each other once across the three tournament days. Simply, the team that finishes 1st, will be crowned European champions and will lift the Continental Cup on Sunday night at The SSE Arena.
“We are absolutely looking forward to this,” said Adam Keefe.” This team has a chance to do something special here at home and something we haven’t done in a long while – win a trophy on home ice.”
“I remember that feeling – it was my first season in Belfast that we last won a trophy here in Belfast city.”
‘That feeling’ which Adam Keefe is alluding to is the Elite League triumph back in 2011/12, when the Giants defeated the Sheffield Steelers 5-1 at home to win the title on Friday 16th March 2012. Since then the Giants have won two championships, both away from home, the Elite League title in 2013/14 as well as the 2017/18 Challenge Cup – which saw the Belfast side qualify for the 2018/19 Continental Cup.
“We have a chance to win a trophy together – we want guys to come in ready to go. It is exciting. There is a buzz about playing in the tournament – it was the same in the Semi-Final. I know our players have had this date circled in their calendar for a long time.”
Although the Giants will face Gomel and Arlan for the first time in the organisation’s history, Katowice are familiar opponents. The Polish champions finished second to the Giants, despite winning the clash between the two sides 4-2, in the Semi-Final round in November at The SSE Arena.
Chris Higgins is expected to make his return to the Giants lineup for the first time since 2017 after rejoining the organisation on Christmas Day.
Tickets for the Continental Cup Final, day passes and tournament passes, are now on sale online from ticketmaster.ie as well as from the Arena Box Office, in person or by calling (028) 9073 9074.