The Stena Line Belfast Giants have accepted an invitation to participate in the Champions Hockey League (CHL), Europe’s top club competition, during the organisation’s 20th anniversary season in 2019/20.
The Giants will make their CHL debut, now in it’s sixth season, thanks to the achievements in the recent IIHF Continental Cup Final with Belfast winning the Silver Medal on home ice in front of a packed SSE Arena.
With winners Arlan unable to compete due to logistical reasons – The Champions Hockey League board have decided to assign the Wild Card for the Continental Cup to the Giants.
32 teams will participate across 125 games in the 2019/20 CHL and the Giants will find out their opponents at the draw which takes place in May at the IIHF World Championship, hosted in Slovakia. The Giants will enter the competition in August at the four-team group stage and vie a place in the knockout rounds.
Sweden’s Frolunda Indians are the defending champions after defeating Red Bull Munich last week to lift the European Trophy for a third time in their history.
Eric Porter, Chairman of the Odyssey Trust:
“We are incredibly thankful to the Champions Hockey League for their belief in the Odyssey Trust’s ability to host yet another international event in Belfast. The Giants participation in Europe’s top club competition is a historic moment for the organisation and will provide a great boost to the local economy as well as even more positive media coverage for Belfast from across the world.”
“These games will be one of the highlight’s in Belfast sporting calendar. We expect that the city of Belfast will open it’s arms to our European guests next season.”
Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Odyssey Trust:
“This is a proud moment for our organisation following the team’s superb achievements in the Continental Cup. It is an honour to accept the Champions Hockey League invite and we look forward to hosting yet more guests in our great city of Belfast.”
“The CHL adds yet another international hockey event to our portfolio, that includes the Friendship Four, Friendship Series, World Championship as well as the Continental Cup Semi-Final and Final. This rapid growth of the sport has led to an increased need for additional facilities in order to compete at the highest level.”
Martin Baumann, CEO of The Champions Hockey League:
“Belfast only missed the qualification at the Continental Cup by one shot in a penalty shoot-out in the decisive game against the winners, and showed that they are as competitive as Arlan”.
“Furthermore, teams from the UK have proved in previous seasons that they are ready to compete with the bigger hockey nations and also that their fans are very enthusiastic about the Champions Hockey League. That’s why we are happy to invite Belfast to our competition, even though they slightly missed out on the win at their very well-organised home tournament.”