The Belfast Giants have been nominated as European Club of the Year at the prestigious Fenix Outdoor & Warrior European Hockey Awards, organised by The Alliance of European Hockey Clubs (EHC).
The Giants are coming off an incredible season where they won both the Elite League and Challenge Cup titles, earning them a spot in next season’s Champions Hockey League.
Under head coach Adam Keefe, the team swept all before them in winning back-to-back titles across the Covid-19 pandemic and a third Challenge Cup title in four seasons, and they were one game away from a clean sweep by winning the play-offs as well.
It is not just for their on-ice success that they have been nominated, but for their overall influence on the community where they have so much of an impact in helping bring together people from all walks of life.
The Giants have long been a uniting force in Northern Ireland, insisting that they remain neutral amid the political divide, while also championing a message of inclusion for all.
This season the team have continued to help disadvantaged young people, too, such as Dáithí Mac Gabhann, Blake McCaughey and Ethan McClean, while coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic they have continued to attract an average crowd of 4,155.
The Giants are in prestigious company in being shortlisted for Club of the Year, where their competition will include CHL champions and SHL regular season winners Rögle BK, Czech champions HC Oceláři Třinec, Finnish champions Tappara and Swiss champions EV Zug.
“As an organisation, we are honoured to be nominated for Club of the Year at the 2022 Fenix Outdoor Euro Hockey Awards,” said Giants head of hockey operations Steve Thornton.
“To be recognised for our impact, both on and off the ice, alongside these top European clubs is an achievement in itself, and we look forward to the ceremony in Prague in June.”
The winners of the Awards will be revealed in Prague on June 15, in conjunction with the EHC’s Annual General Meeting. Fans can cast their votes by going to the EHC website.
Meanwhile, GB were handed a lesson by Sweden in their third World Championships group game in Tampere, Finland as five first-period goals helped subject them to a 6-0 defeat.
Goals from Rasmus Asplund (2), Joakim Nordström, Anton Bengtsson and Rasmus Dahlin helped the Swedes to a 5-0 lead at the first intermission, although it was a good game for Belfast Giants netminder Jackson Whistle, who replaced Ben Bowns in nets for the final two periods and saved 18 of the 19 shots he faced, with the only blemish on his card a second goal from Bengtsson in the third period, as he was named Player of the Game.
The loss leaves GB a point adrift of Norway in bottom spot in Group B after Austria picked up the shock result of the tournament thus far, beating Czechia 2-1 in a shoot-out, with the bottom team after seven games being relegated to Division 1A.