The Stena Line Belfast Giants have been given their opponents for the 2019/20 Champions Hockey League (CHL) at Wednesday’s group stage draw at the Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava, Slovakia – where the 2019 IIHF World Championship is currently being held.
The Giants have been drawn in a group alongside Germany’s Augsburger Panther, Bílí Tygři Liberec of Czech Republic and Sweden’s Luleå Hockey as they make their debut in the prestigious tournament at the beginning of the 20th anniversary season starting in August.
The Giants qualified for Europe’s premier club competition as Continental Cup Silver medalists and Elite League champions.
Press Eye – Belfast – Northern Ireland – 06th April 2019 – Photo by William Cherry/Presseye
The full schedule will be confirmed by the CHL in the coming days with the Giants facing their three opponents twice – once at home in Belfast and once away. The top two sides in the group will advance to the knockout rounds – starting with the Round of 16.
Head Coach Adam Keefe following the CHL group stage draw in Bratislava:
“This is an exciting time for our organisation and the city of Belfast – with the Champions League coming to Northern Ireland for the first time. Facing Augsburger, Liberec and Luleå gives us a tough challenge with their wage bills among the highest in Europe.”
“I know our fans are excited at the opportunity of watching us go toe-to-toe with three great club teams and our players will be ready to go when the puck drops in August.”
Eric Porter, Chairman of the Odyssey Trust, on the Champions Hockey League group stage draw:
“The Giants first appearance in the CHL is testament to the success of the organisation, especially given last season’s Elite League and Challenge Cup victories.”
“We look forward to welcoming Augsburger Panther, Bílí Tygři Liberec and Luleå Hockey and their fans to Belfast this season.”
“We believe that this will further cement ice-hockey as a mainstream sport and support us in our desire to build a rink that will continue to grow the sport in Northern Ireland.”