Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

I did it my way, says Courtenay

Ed Courtenay last night claimed that he has no regrets about taking the penalty shot that turned out to be the last action of his professional ice hockey career.

The Belfast Giants fought back from losing the first-leg of their Play-off quarter-final against the Newcastle Vipers 5-3 to force overtime and then a penalty shoot-out.

Only victory would have prolonged Courtenay's career, with the 40-year-old not only walking away from the Giants, but also the sport now that the season has ended.

And in true Ed Courtenay style he took the responsibility for trying to get the team to the Play-off finals upon himself, only to see his penalty saved by Ryan McDonald.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I will go down my way," said Courtenay.

"I had guys telling me to let someone else take it, but I had second thoughts last year when we lost on penalties to Nottingham in the semi-final about not taking one then.

"I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life thinking about that and I felt it was only right that I should take the responsibility.

"At least it is not going to affect anyone else for the rest of their career or have someone think about it all summer and be low on confidence when the new season starts.

"My career is over and I am happy to take that as the ending."

Courtenay may well be on his way back to the United States even before this weekend's Play-off finals weekend in Nottingham, if he can arrange a flight in time.

The Giants are unlikely to be without a coach for long though, with general manager Todd Kelman revealing in the Ireland's Saturday Night that an offer had been made to the man he wants as Courtenay's successor.

Although the identity of the potential new coach hasn't been revealed, talks are on-going and Kelman hopes to have a deal wrapped up within the next week at most.

"Losing on Sunday night hit me harder that I thought it would," added Courtenay.

"I had different reasons and different emotions that I expected, but I was so pleased that the guys played so well with such a will to win after losing on Saturday."

Statistically this may have been the worst season of Courtenay's rein in Belfast, finishing fourth in the league and missing out on the Play-off finals for the only time in his three years, but he did mount a challenge for the league title in the last two seasons after winning it in his first.

There was also the 16-game winning streak in mid-season as the Giants recovered from their awful start to the season to move from the bottom of the table to the top.

Unfortunately just when the title dream looked like it may well become a reality the winning run was broken by eventual champions Coventry Blaze.

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