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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