Ice Hockey: Boston Bruins to play in Belfast
One of the most famous ice hockey teams in the world is on its way to the Odyssey Arena.
Belfast Giants general manager Todd Kelman was in Massachusetts last night to officially announce that the Boston Bruins will make history by becoming the first NHL team to play in Northern Ireland.
The Bruins’ glittering array of superstars will challenge a Belfast Giants/Elite League All-Star team on Saturday, October 2 — and that will be the most important date in the 10-year history of the Belfast Giants.
The five-times Stanley Cup winners will bring their full roster to Belfast for what will be the most eagerly awaited ice hockey game that the Odyssey has ever seen — outweighing any domestic, or even European, fixture that the Giants have ever played.
Speaking from Boston last night after announcing the game alongside new Bruins president Cam Neely, Kelman said: “The Boston Bruins are one of the original six teams that founded the NHL and one of the most famous sports teams in the world.
“To have them coming to Belfast is the biggest coup that we’ve ever pulled off and we are the only team in our league to have done it.
“It’s huge for the Belfast Giants, for Northern Ireland and for our league.
“We had to get the league on-board and that’s why it’s going to be an All-Star team against the Bruins.
“Unfortunately not all the Belfast players will get to play against them.
“This isn’t a club that’s sending a second-rate team to Belfast, all their big names, the captain Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, Miroslav Satan and Shawn Thornton — whose mother was born in Belfast — will all be coming and we want the best team possible to be up against them to give them a good workout.
“It’s a league wide event, we want fans from all around the league to come. I expect it to be a sell-out.”
The Bruins’ stop-over in Belfast is part of a pre-season trip to Europe, which will culminate in their opening games of the regular season, a double-header against the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague a week later.
There will also be NHL games in Helsinki and Stockholm over the same weekend.
Kelman added: “I first spoke to Boston about the possibility of coming to Belfast last November. Then when I was in New York with my family just before Christmas I called them to ask if we could set up a meeting.
“There has been a lot of work put into this. I was over there in February too.
“They called me last Friday to say they were making the announcement on Monday and I flew out as quickly as I could.”