Giants start the recruitment drive under Adam Keefe

Giants Add Shields, Riley And Towe To 2017/18 Roster

adam-keefe-47

Giants new head coach Adam Keefe starts his new squad by signing the following

Blair Riley (25), Matt Towe (74), Colin Shields (190

(L to R) Blair Riley (25), Matt Towe (74) Colin Shields (19) 

The Stena Line Belfast Giants are pleased to announce the addition of Colin Shields, Blair Riley and Matt Towe for the 2017/18 season. All three players are returning to the Giants line up under the leadership of Head Coach Adam Keefe when the new season begins.

Elite Hockey League - Belfast Giants v Braehead ClanColin Shields (19) lets go one of his trademark slapshots 

Colin Shields, who re-joins the Giants for a tenth season, is the Giants all-time leading points scorer and goal scorer and has played in 517 games, posting 208 goals and 351 assists – good for an impressive 559 points overall for the organisation.

Shields, 37 who hails from Glasgow, was selected 195th overall in the 2000 NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and the Team GB star played his first season as a Giant in 2005/06 – winning his first Elite League title with the organization, before going on to win the Challenge Cup and Knockout Cup in 2009, the 2010 Playoff championship before lifting the league trophy once more in 2013/14.

Last season Shields was named by the Elite League as the ‘Best British Player’ thanks to 29 goals and 27 assists in 67 games played. The 2017/18 season will also see Shields host a testimonial game on Tuesday 21st November when his ‘All-Star’ team will take on the current Giants line up.

Belfast Giants v Fife Flyers - EIHL Playoff Quarter FinalBlair Riley (25) stick handles past Flyers defence 

Blair Riley makes it two seasons in-a-row with the Giants after the 6’0” Power Forward arrived in Northern Ireland in 2016 from the AHL where he spent the 2015/16 season with the Stockton Heat.

Riley, from Kamloops, BC, Canada, brought both size and firepower to the Giants offensive line up during the 2016/17 Elite League season. The 31 year old posted 30 goals and 31 assists, good for 61 points in 56 games played. At the 2016/17 Awards Night, Riley picked up both the Most Valuable Player Award as well as the Players’ Player of the Year Award.

Challenge Cup - Belfast Giants v Edinburgh CapitalsMatt Towe (74) works the boards against the Caps 

Matt Towe returns for a second consecutive season and a third season overall with the Giants. Towe, 29, first iced for the Giants during the 2012/13 season and has helped the organization to two second place finishes in the Elite League as well as a Playoff Final appearance in 2013.

 Towe re-joined the Giants in 2016 from the Guildford Flames where he posted 28 goals and 88 assists in 109 games played. In his two seasons with the Giants, Towe has become a firm fans favourite, recording 9 goals and 25 assists in 113 games played.

From Wayne Hardman

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My Brother can have my help but I feel he is more than capable on his own

KEEFE: MY LITTLE BROTHER DOESN’T NEED ME

Sheldon Keefe Toronto Marlies H:CSheldon Keefe (Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies) 

Growing up in Toronto I wish I had had a brother like Sheldon. However I was blessed with my Uncle Tim Plumb. He played hockey in Belgium, Netherlands then finally for Wembly in London pre World War II as he was trapped in the UK for the war’s duration before returning to Canada.

I will always remember his words of wisdom, “You’ll never make the NHL so go to Europe and enjoy your hockey and life”.

I was then a regular follower of the Leafs thanks to my dad who was senior manager at Esso. They were one of the sponsors of the Toronto Maple Leafs who at that time played out of Maple Leafs Gardens.

When they were playing away I had the opportunity of watching exciting hockey that happened when the Junior ‘A’ or ‘B’ games was played on Sunday afternoon in the Gardens or elsewhere like Barrie, Peterborough, Oshawa or Hamilton to name but a few.

Whilst viewing the NCAA teams battle it out in league encounters in the SSE Arena Belfast brought it all back to me in spades. And interestingly, Adam Keefe’s brother Sheldon comes from the era of Junior ‘A’ & ‘B’ hockey in Canada.

Sheldon was was traded along with Mike Jefferson, Ryan Barns and Shaun Cation to the Barrie Colts during the high days of Junior ‘A’ & ‘B’ hockey with teams operating as farm teams to the NHL clubs as follows. All of the original six NHL teams had involvement in OHA teams until 1967:

NHL Team

OHA Farm Team

Boston Bruins

Barrie Flyers (1945–1960)
Niagara Falls Flyers (1960–1967)
Oshawa Generals (1962–67)

Chicago Black Hawks

Galt Black Hawks (1949–1955)
St. Catharines Black Hawks (1962–1967)

Detroit Red Wings

Galt Red Wings (1944–47)
Oshawa Generals (1950–1953)
Hamilton Red Wings (1960–1967)

New York Rangers

Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters (1947–1960)
Guelph Royals (1960–1963)
Kitchener Rangers (1963–1967)

Montreal Canadiens

Peterborough Petes (1956–1967)
Montreal Junior Canadiens (1961–1967)

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Marlboros (1927–1967)
Toronto St. Michael’s Majors till-1961)
London Nationals (1965–1967)

Back in the day  that was the time to watch and play hockey. As a growing and inspired youth I dreamed of the time I might play professionally somewhere, or better put anywhere.

No doubt the new Giants’ head coach’s brother Sheldon Keefe has done it all icing in both the AHL and the NHL . He says he’s ready to help Adam – but doesn’t think he’ll need to.

Sheldon Keefe is a coach in his own right and has just ended his second season as head coach of the AHL squad the Toronto Marlies. They were beaten in the Calder Cup Division Finals by Syracuse Crunch recently.

From this

adam-keefe-2009-2970

 Moving on this this

Team enforcer and goal scorer

Adam AK47 Keefe 

Early years image of the Giants fans favorite AdamKeefe

And the elder sibling admits he has been impressed by the loyalty shown to Keefe, who finally accepted the head coach role after initially knocking it back a few years ago to concentrate on playing.

“Adam was given the chance before and he declined because he was still playing and didn’t think he was ready,” Keefe said.

“The fact he’s been presented with this opportunity again just shows how much he’s valued by the Giants.

Adam Keefe #2 2

 Adam Keefe (47)  in full flow

 They stayed with it, gave him another chance and stayed loyal to him. That speaks a lot about the people that are running the Belfast Giants.

 Adam knows and I’ve made it clear to him that I’ll be available whenever he feels he needs something, but it’s important he feels ready for this and he finds his own way.

 He has lasting relationships with anyone he’s ever come across in the game and that’s one thing I’ve learned in professional hockey. He’s left an impression and has no shortage of support.

That speaks volumes about his character. I’m here to help him whenever he needs it, but I think he’s prepared and doesn’t need me on speed dial. He has a good head on him”.

adam-keefe-47Adam Keefe takes on the most serious role so far within his hockey career 

Keefe also reckons there is one attribute that can make his brother successful as he makes the adjustment to life behind the bench rather than on the ice.

Sheldon added, “The first thing I think would make him successful is work ethic. With everything that I’ve already described that he had to do, the commitment he’s shown to off ice fitness and training is exceptional.

Adam Keefer- in actions against Coventry

He plays hard every day and he doesn’t know any other way than going full out so he will give everything to commit to being the best coach possible.

He’s also incredibly honest and sincere, he cares about people and is a very reliable and trustworthy person and his players will trust he’ll do everything he can for the team to succeed,” concluded Sheldon on his brother’s appointment.

Adam KeefeLets hope success is followed with a trophy or two during the next chapeter in both the Giants & Keefe’s career 

Good luck Adam – on a personal note I wish you well.

Wayne reading in Enniskillen

Written by Wayne Hardman

 

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Tony Hand MBE gets his just rewards at last

‘Tony Hand inducted into IIHF Hockey Hall of Fame

 ‘Tony Hand MBE, former Belfast Giants’ player coach and Great Britain player and coach has been inducted into the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Cologne, Germany.

As part of the 2017 inductees the 49-year-old received the Richard ‘Bibi’ Torriani Award for an outstanding career by a player from a non-top hockey nation.

Tony Hand and Rene Fasel

Tony Hand MBE (R) with Rene Fasel (L) recieving his award

The Edinburgh-born former forward scored over 4250 points in an illustrious 34-year playing career. ‘Tony Hand became the first British-raised player to be drafted by an NHL side when he was picked up by Edmonton Oilers in 1986.

During his successful stint in Belfast ‘Tony, who should have starred in the NHL with Edmonton Oilers was a Giants’ coach. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland he has done it all in the UK. You could write a book, and several have been completed on the host of teams ‘Tony has played and coached for including the GB International squad.

Rob Stewart and presenter Wayne Hardman with Rob's certificate to UK Ice Hockey Hall of Fame

Rob Stewart and Wayne Hardman with Rob’s certificate to UK Ice Hockey Hall of Fame

He took over from Rob Stewart during the 2004-2005 season as a player coach and took the squad to the playoffs. Hand was always a home person and travelled from Scotland most weeks to coach and play for the team. It was no surprise the following season when he player/coached for his cousin Scott Neil for the Edinburgh Capitals, and then for Manchester.

‘Tony Hand spent just one year in Belfast and proved to be one of the greatest British born and trained players of all-time. Playing top line centre as well as coaching the team he helped the Giants to second in the league. His set-up play was a joy to watch as he could find passes nobody else could. He lead the league in scoring and did not look like slowing down despite being in his later thirties. For many it was a disappointment that ‘Tony only stayed one season in Belfast yet his replacement as coach, Ed Courtenay was another gem.

After leaving the Giants ‘Tony went on to coach and play for the Manchester Phoenix.

Tony’s statistics with the Belfast Giants:

          G/P— Regular Season —   —— Playoffs ——

G/P  G   A   PTS  P/M    P/G  G    A   Pts  P/M

2004-05   50   19   50   69   60           8    0    5    5      34

TOTALS

50   19   50   69   60         8    0    5    5   34 ———————————————————

 

GB Head Coach Tony Hand

GB Head Coach Tony Hand

In a two-year stint as GB head coach, he led the national side to the final qualifying stages for the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014. Hand was presented with his award by IIHF president, Rene Fasel.

An emotional Hand said, “I am honoured and privileged to be here to accept the award. I am overwhelmed. I started playing hockey when I was nine. My father passed away when I was seven and my mum brought us up. The sacrifices she made for me to get to here. It is such an honour”.

Hand continued, “I would like to thank the IIHF council members for the nomination. I would like to thank my team-mates, my coaches, Ice Hockey UK and the fans who have supported me through my career. I would also like to congratulate my fellow inductees, it is an honour to be here with you.

I would like to thank my wife Melissa, son Paul, daughter Sarah and my brothers Paul and David. It is the pinnacle of my career to get here, something I never ever dreamed of.”

Ice Hockey UK chairman, Richard Grieveson said, “This is a special moment for ‘Tony and one he fully deserves. He is a legend in UK ice hockey and has done so much for the sport in this country. This shows the respect ‘Tony has worldwide and I would like to congratulate him on his award.”

ID Photo Written by Wayne Hardman

 

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Giants get new coach & Hutchins signs for Flyers

Adam Keefe Giants’ Fans favourite gets the job

adam-keefe-47

Number 47 Adam Keefe 

Giants’ fans favourite, Canadian Adam Keefe, after being prepared for the position over the last few seasons finally got the head coach job for the Belfast Giants. He follows brother Sheldon, head coach of the Toronto Marlies for the last two seasons, into top spot. ‘Keefer’ steps up from the rank of assistant head coach and player to that of head coach.

I’m sure it will be very useful to have a brother who is head coach of an AHL team like the Toronto Marlies. To bounce ides off and checkout notes on possible players that might not be future NHL material or even have AHL current abilities that could well suit the Elite League playing standards of the Belfast Giants.

Or, on the other hand players that have had a long standing career in either of the top ice hockey leagues and looking for a few more years of hockey whilst gaining a higher business qualification than they currently hold. For example the MBA programme currently offered by the Giants – in association with Ulster University – is open to selected, eligible candidates. It has the potential to enhance a player’s professional profile whilst icing for Belfast.

DerrickWalserDerrick Walser Former Player Head Coach of the Giants 

Keefe follows in the steps of former NHLer Derrick Walser. He has learned his trade first hand and will be well aware of what is expected from him as a fledgling coach. He comes in on the coat tales of Walser who also walked the path of a first time coach.

The Giants’ organization is certainly rising in admiration amongst European ice hockey clubs. They hosted the successful NCAA tournaments over the last few seasons, also the Boston Bruins’ match against the Belfast Giants – an overwhelming success.

The new owners who took over a few seasons ago – the Odyssey Trust – are very satisfied with their acquisition. It is proving to be the success they had hoped for especially in its aim to bring both tourism to Northern Ireland and a place to bring the whole family.

GIANTS MCOOPER1 copyAdam Keefe (47) and Steve Thornton always in close communication 

The World Fire and Police games a few years back, and the most recent Ice Hockey Division 1B World Championship were also successfully organized and undertaken by Steve Thornton and his staff with the Odyssey Trust and Belfast Giants.

thorntonsteve_giants_16102014Always smiling Steve Thornton coming up with the great projects for the SSE Arena 

This was successfully under taken and run professionally from the conception first of Robert Fitzpatrick (CEO of the new owners of the Belfast Giants and the Odyssey Trust) and brought to outstanding fulfillment through Steven Thornton and his able staff to make the projects not only happen but bring them to a successful conclusion.

Team enforcer and goal scorer

Adam AK47 Keefe 

As the above events prove, and as forerunners for success Adam Keefe’s appointment means he is sailing on the right ship to bring the Belfast Giants to greater awareness – for both Irish sports fans and family entertainment in Northern Ireland’s capital. A recent, consistent take up of seats alongside a marketing revenue increase has pleased the Odyssey Trust and the Giants alike as the arena overall seating increases.

Adam Keefe

This is what the Giants fans are looking for a throphy in Keefers hand

If head coach Adam Keefe can secure a long awaited trophy or any silverware in the SSE arena in his first season all could be ecstatic within the Giants’ ranks. A more realistic outcome, similar to the stewardship of first term head coach Derrick Walser, a strong playoff position and a thrilling end to the season play would be more than acceptable to the Giants’ fans. Watch this space.

Hutchins 2

Jeff Hutchins (L) in yet another suit not a game shirt but a coaches dress code

Yet another former Giant has signed up as a coach – this time it’s Mr. Jeff Hutchins. Fife Flyers can confirm that the 38-year-old Canadian and former EIHL player and coach will be joining the Flyers as assistant coach and Director of Player Development for the forthcoming season.

Jeff Hutchins Hutch in full flow directing his troops

Hutchins is no stranger to the EIHL or the Flyers’ fans. He has played for EIHL sides Coventry Blaze, Sheffield Steelers, Belfast Giants, Newcastle Vipers, Edinburgh Capitals and Dundee Stars, before assuming the player coach role for the Stars during the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons.

HutchinsInAtFifeJeff Hutchns as a player for Dundee Stars 

Hutchins is now settled in the UK with his wife and family and is a dual passport holder (UK/Canadian).

 Flyers’ head coach Todd Dutiaume had this to say about Hutch,

“Jeff brings a wealth of hockey knowledge, a winning pedigree and we share a common vision for the future of this club. I look forward to working closely with him and continue on the path towards bringing success to Fife and its loyal fan base.”

Hutchins had the following to say on joining the Flyers; “I am really excited to be joining the Fife Flyers for the upcoming season as assistant coach and Director of Player Development.

Todd and I have been speaking about this role for some time and I am glad that we have come to an agreement.  I am ecstatic to be joining such a storied franchise with some of the most passionate fans I have come across in professional hockey.

The organisation has set high expectations for the coming year and I am looking forward to playing my part with the Flyers and developing the homegrown talent.  I look forward to meeting all the Flyer’s faithful in the coming weeks.”

ID Photo

Written by Wayne Hardman

 

 

 

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Team GB lift Gold Finally

Team GB Take GOLD MEDAL

 So far it had not been for the want of trying – especially after two successful silver medals for the squad in the previous two championships – tournament Head Coach Pete Russell got the team to believe in themselves. To play as a team, growing in confidence with every outing as a Team GB squad player.

Elite Ice Hockey League - Belfast Giants v Cardiff DevilsSSE Arena Belfast      

Following the highly successful tournament, held in the SSE Arena Belfast in April 2017 Team GB triumphed in Division 1B with an unbeaten record. The only team in the group to achieve such a record. In a thrilling final game at the SSE Arena last Saturday, Russell’s men lifted the gold award with a 4-0 win against Japan. Team GB’s comprehensive triumph in the tournament earned them promotion to Division 1A for the 2017/8 season where they will face Poland, Kazakhstan and HungaPete Russell gathering his troops copy

Pete Russell Team GB Head Coah marshalling his troops 

Russell, following on from his duties as Head Coach of Milton Keynes Lightning, won the Play Off Championship and lifted the EPL Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

After the match Coach Russell and his team’s gold medal finish he stated, “This is the biggest moment of my career and it is a fantastic feeling. To do it on home ice in front of so many fantastic supporters really is amazing. Those boys deserve it. They were so focused all week. Nothing fazed them. I’m so proud of everyone of them and they deserve the promotion”

“The backing of the British fans was phenomenal, as always. And it was fantastic to see and hear quite a few MK Lightning supporters in the Arena wearing our jerseys and hoodies and waving an MKL flag – we couldn’t have asked for better backing!”

Robert Dowd (12)Team GB Forward Robert Down (12) 

 From game one in the Division 1B of the World Championships against Croatia, Captain Robert Dowd got the team going, and they never looked back winning with growing confidence 4-2. Then they faced Estonia where the Belfast Giants’ Mark Garside got the opening goal in a 5-1 comfortable victory over the Estonians.

Mark Garside scores v Lithuania 2015Team GB ‘D’Man Mark Garside  (11)

Colin ShieldsTeam GB Forward Colin Shields (19)

 In game three Team GB faced Lithuania. Belfast’s Colin Shield got the GB squad rolling with his opening powerplay score. They won 5-2 at the final whistle. Colin Shields did it again with another powerplay goal opening the scoring in a whopping victory over the Netherlands 14-0.  The Giants’ goal minder Stephan Murphy got a shutout in the game.

Stephen Murphy (1) recieve his awardTeam GB Goalie Stephen Murphy (1)

Behind right Team GB Coaches Tom Watkins Corey Neilson

Pete Russel 

As thought before the start of the Championships, Japan versus Team GB would be a nail biting finish. Would Team GB take gold after two, previous successful runner-up medal finishes. Great Britain ensured that its World Championship heartache would go on no longer. A crushing 4-0 victory over Japan earned gold for the host nation and secured promotion to Division IA after four seasons.

“This time, there was no mistake. It feels like we’ve got an identity again,” quoted jubilant head coach Russell. “We played a bit different from the way GB played in the past, we were pretty aggressive, and we didn’t sit back. Our identity now is as a proactive team.

“We’ve earned the right to play at the next level, now we need to stay there. But this is a young team and we have a lot of players who are here for a long time to come.”

Aided by a couple of early GB penalties, Japan took the early initiative and home hearts were in mouths as a shot dinged off Ben Bowns’ post. But the Japanese suffered a big blow midway through the opening stanza when Hiroki Ueno limped out of the game after taking a hit in front of the benches.

Robert Dowd Recieving his AwardChairman of the Odyssey Trust Eric Porter awards Robert Dowd (12) 

The breakthrough came late in the first period as Japan ran into penalty trouble of its own. GB earned a 5-on-3 advantage and Robert Dowd cashed in with the opening goal.

Dowd was involved again as the host nation doubled its lead on another power play in the 25th minute. His shot from the top of the circle took a touch from Brendan Brooks and went through the five-hole.

Japan thought it had a lifeline in the 28th minute when Kenta Takagi put the puck in the net, only for the on-ice officials to call no goal because the net was off its moorings. Following the no goal call, Japan trailed by three as Colin Shields, one of the heroes of the tournament for GB, fired in a shot from the point and Matt Myers threw up a huge screen to redirect the puck beyond Japan’s netminder Fukufuji. The Belfast crowd, which included Rod Stewart – in town to watch his son Liam – went wild.

Colin Shields (19)Team GB Forward Colin Shields (19) 

Shields, who also won the forward of the tournament prize, is one of those who had missed out in the past two years. He attributed this victory to solid teamwork. “We learned from our mistakes of the last two years and this year we really came together,”

Ben Bowns facing Liam Stewart (18)

Ben Bowns (30)  faces Liam Stewart (18) in practise

Colin Shields 75th Cap

  1. Colin Shields Team GB Joint Top Scorer withAndy French

Shields continued, “Tonight was our best game, we played a full 60 minutes. Everybody made a contribution, all four lines, and all the defence. Ben Bowns achieved a shutout. It was a team effort from top to bottom and we can be really proud of the job we’ve done here.”

Matt Myers grabbed his second of the night, finishing off an odd-man rush after a superb David Phillips pass sent Evan Mosey off to the races. With a 4-0 lead, the home crowd started the party 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

Myers commented after the game, “We knew that Japan was a good team, full of goals, and they are flying machines. We knew it was going to be tough but once we got that first one we just kept rolling and finished the job.”

Team GB’s confidence was justified. Japan struggled to get its pacey offence into the game. They managed just 10 shots on goal through 40 minutes, an astonishing turnaround from the devastating attacking play Takahito Suzuki’s team had produced in its first four games. The loss of Ueno clearly hurt the Japanese, but the home defence deserves credit for the way it denied the opposition the chance to turn over the puck as freely as it had in previous games.

Ben Bowns (33) DevilsTeam GB Ben Bowns in a Cardiff Devils Game 

Ben Bowns, the Cardiff Devils goalie made 20 saves for a well-deserved shutout. “I thought we were unbelievable defensively,” Bowns was quoted as sayinh. “We’ve been great all week but tonight we went to another level. To play a team like Japan and only allow two shots in the first period is just incredible. For me it was a fairly easy night because we all played so well.”

Robert Dowd and Colin Shields both ended up with eight points each from four goals and four assists, just behind tournament leader Obara Dalsuke who netted five goals plus five assists.

Another outstanding GB forward was Evan Mosey who also finished on eight points from three goals plus five assists. Colin Shields’ goal output in the Championship broke GB’s all time International goal tally – that of of ‘Tony Hand – with Shields’ four goals bringing his all time record to that of forty-one goals.

Coach Russell will have to put his summer holidays on hold this year as there is little chance to rest and reflect on his and his team’s achievements. He now has the task of building an MK Lightning side to compete in the top tier of the sport in the UK. This will be as part of the Elite League playing teams including the famous Nottingham Panthers, Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils along with the rest of the Elite League teams.

Elite Teams are going to have take notice! Coach Russell has the bit between his teeth…

Wayne Hardman Sports Reporter

Written by wayne Hardman

Images mainly by Alan McNice

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Sheffield Kill off the Giants Playoff Title hopes

Steelers Advance to Playoff Final Following Victory Over Belfast

 Sadly The Belfast Giants fell 2-0 to the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday in the Playoff Semi-Final at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham. With the Cardiff Devils defeating the Dundee Stars 4-2 in Saturday’s first Semi-Final, it will be the Steelers who advance to Sunday’s match against Cardiff in the Grand Final.

The Giants just could not muster a goal as it was the Sheffield Steelers Guillaume Desbiens who fired the Steelers into the lead with only four minutes on the game clock assisted by Andreas Valdix and Robert Dowd.

However it was Belfast who would then go on to control the run of play for much of the opening period, though they found clear-cut chances hard to come by if at all with the close checking Sheffield undertook.

Stephen Murphy (31)nagainst the ClanStepen Murphy (31) 

The middle period was filled with end-to-end action with both netminders, Stephen Murphy for Belfast and Mustukovs for Sheffield, keeping the score at 1-0. Murphy was particularly impressive during a two-minute penalty kill mid-way through the period, flashing his glove with a last ditch save while lying on the ice to deny the Steelers.

The Belfast squad continued to push for an equalizer in the second period but again found the Steelers defense, and goaltender Ervins Mustukovs

Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers - Elite Ice Hockey League, on top form and the two clubs entered the second intermission with Sheffield still leading by one.

David Rutherford (91)

David Rutherford (91) 

Once again the Giants had more of the puck in the third period, but continued to struggle to find a way past the Steelers defense, who kept Walser’s Giants to the outside for much of the final frame – though a late chance for David Rutherford will likely to have left Belfast fans wondering what might have been as the Canadian forwards shot from a tight angle skimmed across the face of goal.

A bench penalty for having too many men on the ice may have all but killed the tie for the Giants, leaving them a man down through the crucial closing stages and the game was truly settled when Levi Nelson flipped the puck in to an empty net with 25 seconds to go.

The Giants then faced the Dundee Stars in Sunday’s Elite League Bronze Medal game, face-off 12pm.

Final Score was Stena Line Belfast Giants 0-2 Sheffield Steelers with the Giants Man of the Match being #43 Derrick Walser

Belfast Giants 0 Sheffield Steelers 2 Game Sheet

The Third Place Bronze Medal Final

 

The third place Bronze Medal Final was more the test of individual skill and fancy tricks with the stick and punk plus passing from each of the Dundee Star and Belfast Giants players.

The first period ended with a score line of four goals apiece but it could have been a lot more. Skating as at a moderate pace with hits forbidden but scoring was placed at higher accolade and was the key highlight. Strangely the Motorpoint Arena was well attended for this contest.

Second period ended to Belfast netting a yet a further goal tally of nine goals with Dundee still reaping the lower tally of six. I’m sure the Giants would have been pleased some of these scores in last night contest with Sheffield Steelers. The pace quickened during the middle stanza and was enjoyable to watch especial with the Giants scoring goals.

In the final period of this free flowing game the Giants nearly doubled the Star goal output 15 to 8 and what a difference it would have made in the semi-final games had Belfast found that touch for at least two or three score to say the least.

Goal tally for the Giants

David Rutherford (91) celebrates scoring against the Steelers 91 David Rutherford  3 goals

Elite Ice Hockey League - Belfast Giants v Edinburgh Capitals

19 Colin Shields  2 goals

Ryan Martinelli #3

88 Ryan Martinelli  2 goals

Elite Ice Hockey League - Belfast Giants v Edinburgh Capitals

25 Blair Riley 1 goal

michael-forney-14

Michael Forney  2 goals

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68 Chris Higgins 1 goal

Michael Quesnele #1

8  Michelle Quesnele 1 goal

Elite Ice Hockey League - Belfast Giants vs Coventry Blaze

9  Jim Vandermeer 1 goal

adam-keefe-47 47 Adam Keefe 1 goal

 

Written by Wayne Hardman

 

 

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Coach Walser’s last days as a Player Coach for Belfast

The last days of Coach Derrick Walser at the helm of Belfast

Walser-Preview

Derrick Walser in full flow

The telling results took place early in the season however the nails in the Giants coffin were hammered in with the loss to Sheffield after their 5-2 defeat by the Steelers on Match 17th.

The same numbers but reversed in Coventry the next night game (March 18th) which gave Belfast some distant hope but still the writing was on the wall even following the  5-2 Coventry victory.

The last throw of the dice took place in Cardiff’s double hitter in the Devils new ice stadium. The Giants took on Cardiff with hopes of a last ditch capture of some silverware however the Devils had other ideas winning 4-3 in a hard fought tense contest.

With the Elite League title secured by Cardiff, Belfast still had to secure a victory in the second night of this awesome double hitter to stop Sheffield securing second place in the Elite League race. That they did with a 5-3 win thus hoping for a better placing in the playoffs.

The last victory in the Elite League regular season for coach Derrick Walser’s coached Giants was a 5-3 away victory against the Cardiff Devils. The visitors never fell behind in the game and ensured they would finish second and face the Fife Flyers in the Playoff Quarter Final next weekend.

Belfast Giants v Coventry Blaze - Elite Ice Hockey League

Colin Shields (19)

Colin Shields scored first finishing off a great season netting unassisted followed by the star of the season for Belfast Blair Riley who doubled the Giants lead to 2-0 all early in the second period, assisted by James Desmarais and Chris Higgins.

 With Referee Dean Smith sending both Blair Riley and Adam Keefe to the penalty box allowing Cardiff’s Layne Ulmer to pulled one back on his powerplay score

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Chris Higgins (68) 

The Giants restored their two-goal advantage late in the second period through Chris Higgins. Blair Riley posted his second goal of the game in the final period as the Giants took a 4-1 lead.

Giants James Desmaraus (79)

James Desmarais (79)

The Devils pulled one back yet again with ten minutes left on the game clock through Matthew Myers. Then it became a one goal game only fifty seconds left to play when the Devils Layne Ulmer scored. James Desmarais ensured the Giants took the two points from Cardiff on Sunday with an empty net finish with just ten seconds left to play.

 Facing Fife Flyers in the quarterfinals the Giants had an even split (50-50) in the regular seasons record with Belfast during the regular season place, which meant any result could happen.

 The Giants won the opening game of the two-legged quart final 4-2 in Belfast April 1st then securing a final four placement after a second victory in Fife the next night winning 4-1 securing second place by just one point from Paul Thompson’s coached Sheffield Steelers.

 

 

ELITE LEAGUE

TEAM GP W L PTS
Cardiff Devils 52 32 10 81
Belfast Giants 52 30 13 74
Sheffield Steelers 52 31 14 73
Nottingham Panthers 52 22 20 58
Braehead Clan 52 24 22 57
Fife Flyers 52 20 24 53
Dundee Stars 52 16 26 46
Manchester Storm 52 17 26 44
Coventry Blaze 52 13 28 43
Edinburgh Capitals 52 11 33 35

 

 

 

Yes finally The Belfast Giants made the Final Four Weekend in the Motorpoint Arena Nottingham after two successful Victories over Fife Flyers.

They also picked up three players named in the Elite League All-Star teams. Jim Vandermeer is a first All-Star with both Derrick Walser and Blair Riley second All-Stars.

There is representation from both the Erhardt and Gardiner Conference across the two Elite League All-Star teams.

Team GB goaltender Ben Bowns leads out the First All Star Team, with Cardiff team mate Andrew Hotham and Belfast’s Jim Vandermeer selected as the two defensemen following exceptional campaigns, with Hotham finishing the season as the leading defensive scorer once again.

Joey Martin, Dundee talisman Vinny Scarsella and Mathieu Roy complete the line up, with all three receiving strong support from coaching staff and General Managers across the EIHL during the voting process.

Fife Flyers goaltender Shane Owen was selected as the Second All Star Team goaltender after a stand out first season in the EIHL, while Giants player-coach Derrick Walser and Dundee’s Félix-Antoine Poulin also made the team after both made a significant impact for their clubs during the season.

Braehead hot shots Matt Beca, who led the EIHL in points this year, and Scott Pitt, who led the league in goals, are joined by Belfast’s Blair Riley at forward to complete the line up.

FIRST ALL STAR TEAM

Goaltender: Ben Bowns (Cardiff Devils)
Defenseman: Andrew Hotham (Cardiff Devils)
Defenseman: Jim Vandermeer (Stena Line Belfast Giants)
Forward: Joey Martin (Cardiff Devils)
Forward: Vinny Scarsella (Dundee Stars)
Forward: Mathieu Roy (Sheffield Stealer’s)

SECOND ALL STAR TEAM

Goaltender: Shane Owen (Fife Flyers)
Defenseman: Derrick Walser (Stena Line Belfast Giants)
Defenseman: Félix-Antoine Poulin (Dundee Stars)
Forward: Matt Beca (Braehead Clan)
Forward: Blair Riley (Stena Line Belfast Giants)
Forward: Scott Pitt (Braehead Clan)

Its all to play for with Playoff Championship to be won following the semi finals between Cardiff Devils and the First Time ever appearance of Dundee Stars being the first Semi Final

Followed by Sheffield Steelers vs. Belfast Giants in the second Semi Final. The winners go through to the Final with faceoff at 4pm to find the Elite League Playoff Champions. All games are two close to call but lets hope for very competitive games that go right down to the final whistle no matter which team is successful.

In addition to the above The Belfast Giants have received four nominations for the Elite League Awards. Derrick Walser receives a nomination for both Coach of the Year as well as Defenseman of the Year while Jim Vandermeer is also nominated for the blue line award. Colin Shields is a contender for the Best British Player.

The winner of each award will be announced following Sunday’s bronze medal game at this week’s Playoff Final Weekend in Nottingham.

And the nominees are…

FORWARD OF THE YEAR

Joey Martin (Cardiff Devils)

Vinny Scarsella (Dundee Stars)

Mathieu Roy (Sheffield Steelers)

DEFENCEMAN OF THE YEAR

Andrew Hotham (Cardiff Devils)

Jim Vandermeer (Stena Line Belfast Giants)

Derrick Walser (Stena Line Belfast Giants)

GOALTENDER OF THE YEAR

Ben Bowns (Cardiff Devils)

Shane Owen (Fife Flyers)

Ervins Mustukovs (Sheffield Steelers)

BRITISH PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Colin Shields (Stena Line Belfast Giants)

Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils)

Ben O’Connor (Sheffield Steelers)

COACH OF THE YEAR

Andrew Lord (Cardiff Devils)

Derrick Walser (Stena Line Belfast Giants)

Paul Thompson (Sheffield Steelers)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Andrew Hotham (Cardiff Devils)

Vinny Scarsella (Dundee Stars)

Mathieu Roy (Sheffield Steelers).

Written by Wayne Hardman

 

 

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Internet Down since March 7th 2017

Sorry to be offline for so long however our friendly BT finally reconnected me.

 

Now all I have to do is catch up!

wayne hardman

 

Regards

 

Wayne Hardman

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12 Goal Giants Tame Panthers with ease

12 goal Giants smother the Panthers In their double-hitter

 On game night it is essential for fans to get a feel for the opposition in the SSE Arena. Usually this can be either in the now famous ‘Rockies’ sports bar or in the ‘Street’ café. These venues are where home fans and visiting spectators alike seem to gather before the game.

 In both locations ample visiting Panthers’ fans were present. They were happy to talk about how safe Belfast City was to visit, and how clean the centre.

When it came time to conversation on the subject of, ‘How were the Panthers going to fare in the back-to-back games?’ The fans’ replies were honest. Nottingham were not playing so well at the moment, however, supporters had come for a weekend break and also to support the Panthers and see how they would do.

Turning to the Giants, they would have to win their remaining Elite League games to be sure of a second place finish – and have a favourable opponent in the first round of the play-offs. Not forgetting the long shot chance of lifting the Elite League Trophy if they could win their remaining games and hope that another team trip up the Cardiff Devils on the way. A very long-shot-bet if ever there was one.

Jackson Whistle #2Is Jackson Whistle (1) out for the season ? 

With Jackson Whistle allegedly out for the season Stephen Murphy had to step up to the plate and take the full load. Back up goalie Dickson was only too ready to step in to the fill the gap – if and when required.

Belfast Giants v Nottingham Panthers - Elite Ice Hockey LeagueJames Desmarais, DerrickWalser and David Rutherford celebrate the Giants score 

Friday night’s encounter saw both squads scrutinizing each others’ short-comings In the opening five minutes. It was the Giants who found the winning move. James Desmarais let fly with an unstoppable slap shot to open the scoring for Belfast.

Belfast Giants v Nottingham Panthers - Elite Ice Hockey LeagueColin Shields Celebrates with Steve Saviano after scoring 

Next up and only a few minutes later Michael Quesnele made it 2-0 Giants. Belfast were not finished yet as Colin Shields – who having another stella season – scored the first of his three goals on the night. That ended the first period scoring leaving Belfast with a commanding lead.

 

Nottingham’s Chris Lawrence scored on a Giants powerplay early in the second period to pull one back for the Panthers. However David Rutherford scored on the powerplay, assisted by Derrick Walser and Colin Shields, to regain the Giants’ three goal advantage.

 

Colins Shields scored his second of night with Blair Riley finishing off an excellent move making it 6-1 with a period left to play. Shields netted his hat-trick after some neat work by Steve Saviano in chasing down the loose puck and finding Shields for the one-timer.

 

Again, Chris Lawrence scored for the Panthers’ second of the game, assisted by Matt Carter and Dan Spang. Spang then turned from provider to scorer, assisted by Deivids Sarkanis and Jeff Brown.

 

That made the final score Belfast Giants 7-3 Nottingham Panthers. Deservedly the Giants Man of the Match was awarded to #19 Colin Shields. With the Continental Trophy in the club’s trophy cabinet it looked like Nottingham were trying out their options, biding their time, awaiting the playoffs.

 

 

The Giants still had their noses to the grind-stone – still trying to lift any trophy this season. With the same commitment shown on Friday night’s encounter Belfast claimed a second win of the weekend, again against the Nottingham Panthers. It was a 5-2 victory at the SSE Arena on Sunday.

 

David Rutherford played a starring role with his hat-trick helping the home side take the two points. The win followed Friday’s 7-3 home win over the same opposition, making it a four point weekend for the Belfast side.

 

With the game clock just past the two-minute mark, Michael Quesnele dropped the gloves with the Panthers’ Alex Nikiforuk. This followed an incident involving the players in the last meeting between the two sides in Nottingham. Both Quesnele and Nikiforuk picked up five-minute penalties for fighting.

 

This time Nottingham opened the scoring with Jeff Brown firing his side into a 1-0 advantage with assists from Matt Carter and Eric Lindhagen. Brown’s goal was the only strike in a quiet opening period.

 

David Rutherford equalized for the Giants early in the second period with an unstoppable slap shot, assisted by Chris Higgins.

 

Colin Shields’ goal put the Giants on top for the first time in the game with a fine strike half way through the second period assisted by James Desmarais and Jerome Leduc.

 

Rutherford netted his second of the game and the Giants’ third of the night early in the third period when he followed up on his original effort which struck the crossbar. Rutherford’s goal, assisted by James Desmarais and Adam Keefe gave the home side some breathing space with a two-goal advantage.

 

Blair Riley extended the Giants’ lead to three goals with a solo effort while the Panthers were on the powerplay. However soon after the visitors pulled one back with Dan Spang shooting into the corner of the Giants’ net, assisted by Andy Sertich and Alex Nikiforuk.

 

David Rutherford became the hat-trick hero, netting his third of the game, assisted by James Desmarais and Steve Saviano. Rutherford’s third rounded off the scoring with the Giants taking the 5-2 home win over the Nottingham Panthers.

 

The Belfast Giants return to action again on both Friday and Saturday at home against the Sheffield Steelers and Coventry Blaze respectively.

 

The final score was Belfast Giants 5-2 Nottingham Panthers with the Giants Man of the Match #91 David Rutherford.

 

Written by Wayne Hardman

 

 

 

 Elite Ice Hockey League Standings 2016/17
After Games of 12/3/17    
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Cardiff*

48

29

7

3

9

75

1 loss
Belfast*

48

28

5

4

11

70

5 wins
Sheffield*

48

28

4

3

13

67

2 wins
Braehead*

48

23

1

3

21

51

1 loss
Nottingham*

46

19

3

6

18

50

2 losses
Fife*

48

18

5

3

22

49

2 wins
Dundee

48

14

4

6

24

42

1 win
Coventry

49

13

6

4

26

42

1 loss
Manchester

49

16

1

7

25

41

1 loss
Edinburgh

48

11

5

2

30

34

3 losses

 

*Qualified for Play-Offs (top 8 qualify)

 

 

 Gardiner Conference Standings 2016-2017
After games of 12/3/17
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Braehead**

29

21

0

1

7

43

1 win

Dundee

29

12

3

3

11

33

3 wins

Manchester

31

12

1

3

15

29

1 loss

Fife

29

11

1

3

14

27

1 win

Edinburgh

30

8

5

0

17

26

3 losses

 

**Gardiner Conference Champions

 

 

 Erhardt Conference Standings 2016-2017
After games of 12/3/17
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Cardiff

29

16

3

3

7

41

1 loss

Belfast

28

14

4

2

8

38

3 wins

Sheffield

28

14

1

2

11

32

1 win

Nottingham

31

11

2

4

14

30

4 losses

Coventry

30

4

4

3

19

19

1 win

 

 Elite Ice Hockey League Standings 2016/17
After Games of 12/3/17    
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Cardiff*

48

29

7

3

9

75

1 loss
Belfast*

48

28

5

4

11

70

5 wins
Sheffield*

48

28

4

3

13

67

2 wins
Braehead*

48

23

1

3

21

51

1 loss
Nottingham*

46

19

3

6

18

50

2 losses
Fife*

48

18

5

3

22

49

2 wins
Dundee

48

14

4

6

24

42

1 win
Coventry

49

13

6

4

26

42

1 loss
Manchester

49

16

1

7

25

41

1 loss
Edinburgh

48

11

5

2

30

34

3 losses

 

*Qualified for Play-Offs (top 8 qualify)

 

 

 Gardiner Conference Standings 2016-2017
After games of 12/3/17
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Braehead**

29

21

0

1

7

43

1 win

Dundee

29

12

3

3

11

33

3 wins

Manchester

31

12

1

3

15

29

1 loss

Fife

29

11

1

3

14

27

1 win

Edinburgh

30

8

5

0

17

26

3 losses

 

**Gardiner Conference Champions

 

 

 Erhardt Conference Standings 2016-2017
After games of 12/3/17
GP Regulation OT/PS OT/PS Regulation PTS Current
Wins Wins Losses Losses Streak
Cardiff

29

16

3

3

7

41

1 loss

Belfast

28

14

4

2

8

38

3 wins

Sheffield

28

14

1

2

11

32

1 win

Nottingham

31

11

2

4

14

30

4 losses

Coventry

30

4

4

3

19

19

1 win

 

 

 

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Giants still chase the title whilst protecting their squad for the playoffs

Giants storm Manchester with five of the best to win 5-2

It could be said that Manchester flew in at the height of a winter storm though iced with a bench diminished by five players. To their credit they kept up the pressure. They consistently played hard to the final whistle.

Belfast Giants v Manchester Storm - Elite Ice Hockey LeagueThe Giants fans celebrating the teams 5-2 victory ovder the Storm 

However the fact is that the Giants secured a convincing 5-2 victory. Early on it only took five minutes for Belfast to score as they pressed the Storm deep into Manchester’s zone and Michael Forney netted, assisted by Chris Higgins.

michael-forney-14

 

Michael Forney (14) nets the Giants first goal against the Storm

The Giants’ dominance was illustrated just two minutes later when Blair Riley scored off a devastating strike netting their second goal of the evening. Despite being 2-0 down, the Storm continued to battle hard for their opening goal. They struggled to find the fluency that had been evident at home the previous evening against Cardiff.

Belfast Giants v Manchester Storm - Elite Ice Hockey League

 

Blair Riley (25) scores the Giants second goal against Manchester

Late in the opening period Belfast’s Colin Shields scored giving Belfast a 3-0 lead. With the clock ticking down in the period, and both teams serving a penalty the Storm’s Captain Trevor Johnson blasted home from the blue line to finally give them their opening goal.

Belfast Giants v Manchester Storm - Elite Ice Hockey League

Colin Shields (19) nets the Giants third goal against the Storm

In the second, Belfast came out fired up from the dressing room and again dominating play. Early on this was rewarded with Blair Riley grabbing his second of the night, and the Giants’ fourth. The flow of the match went end to end despite the score line. Manchester just would not roll over and give the victory to Belfast. Despite the big hits being dished out by both sides, neither was able to score again in the second 20 minutes.

Challenge Cup Quarter Final - Belfast Giants v Manchester Storm

Blair Riley (25) gets his second goal on the night and the Giants fourth

With the game clock ticking away in Belfast’s favour the Storm continued to push hard for their next goal, knowing another Giants’ goal would all but put the game out of reach.

Manchester was cheered on by the travelling fans, and some 100+ of them saw Adam Harding net the Storm’s second goal with just five minutes left on the game clock giving the Storm fans some hope of a late comeback.

Elite Ice Hockey League - Belfast Giants v Braehead Clan

Colin Shields (19) nets the Giants fifth goal

The hope was dashed with thirty-six seconds left to play in the period. Colin Shields grabbed his second of the evening, and the Giants’ 5th by slotting into the empty Storm net to secure the 2 points for the Giants who are still hoping to catch Cardiff for the Elite League title.

 With that victory and the only game played by the Giants on the weekend they closed the gap on first place to just seven points. The Giants return to action again on Friday 10 February and Sunday 11 February at home in the SSE Arena Belfast against the Nottingham Panthers.

 The final score was Belfast Giants 5-2 Manchester Storm and the Giants’ Man of the Match was awarded to #25 Blair Riley

Written by Wayne Hardman

  LEAGUE STANDINGS
  GP REG OT/PS OT/PS REG PTS CURRENT
  Wins Wins Losses Losses STREAK
 Cardiff * 46 28 7 3 8 73  3 Wins
 Belfast * 46 26 5 4 11 66  3 Wins
 Sheffield * 46 26 4 3 13 63  2 Losses
 N/ham* 44 19 3 6 16 50  1 Win
 
           
               
After Games GARDINER CONFERENCE
Played GP REG OT/PS OT/PS REG PTS CURRENT
04/03/17 Wins Wins Losses Losses STREAK
 Braehead ** 28 20 0 1 7 41  1 Loss
 Dundee 27 10 3 3 11 29  1 Win
 Manchester 28 11 1 3 13 27  2 Losses
 Edinburgh 27 8 5 0 14 26  3 Wins
 Fife 28 10 1 3 14 25  7 Losses
** Gardiner Conference Champions      
               
After Games ERHARDT CONFERENCE 
Played GP REG OT/PS OT/PS REG PTS CURRENT
4/03/17 Wins Wins Losses Losses STREAK
 Cardiff 28 16 3 3 6 41  1 Win
 Belfast 26 12 4 2 8 34  1 Win
 Sheffield 27 13 1 2 11 30  1 Loss
 Nottingham 29 11 2 4 12 30  2 Losses
 Coventry 30 4 4 3 19 19  1 Win

 

 

ENDS

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