Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants to begin Elite League title defence at Manchester Storm

Belfast Giants forward Jonathan Ferland holds off Manchester Storm defenceman Dallas Ehrhardt (Darren Kidd/PressEye)
Belfast Giants forward Jonathan Ferland holds off Manchester Storm defenceman Dallas Ehrhardt (Darren Kidd/PressEye)
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

The Belfast Giants will begin their Elite League title defence on the road against the Manchester Storm on Sunday 15 September.

Adam Keefe's defending champions will make the trip to Planet Ice Altrincham to take on the side that nearly cost them the league with a costly defeat late last season.

That game comes a day after the Giants begin their domestic slate with a home tie against the Glasgow Clan at the SSE Arena on September 14, the first game in the Challenge Cup group stage.

Also the defending Cup champions, the Giants get their group games wrapped up by early October, with their final match away to the Clan on October 12 following home games against the Dundee Stars (Sep 21) and Fife Flyers (Sep 28).

Belfast play their first home league game in the second week of the season on Sunday 22 September when they welcome the Nottingham Panthers to the SSE Arena for an early cross-conference clash.

The much-anticipated first meeting with the Cardiff Devils, whom they pipped to the title last season on regulation wins, won't come until November 23, the first of two games of a double-header at the Viola Arena.

The two sides then meet in Belfast on December 21 before reuniting for a second double-header, this time in Belfast, on February 1/2, with the final clash in Cardiff the penultimate game of the season for both sides on March 28.

The Giants then finish their campaign away to the Coventry Blaze on Sunday 29 March, whom the Devils lost to in the same game last season to hand Belfast the league crown.

Fans will be delighted to hear that the Giants have no less than seven double-header weekends in Belfast, three of which are against their conference rivals the Devils, Panthers and Sheffield Steelers.

Of that trio, the Steelers are the first to play their double-header, on December 6/7, with the Devils over on February 1/2 and the Panthers making the trip on March 13/14.

The Manchester Storm play a double-header in Belfast on October 19/20, with the Coventry Blaze over on January 4/5 and the Guildford Flames in town on February 28/29.

Belfast's final home games of the regular season are also a double-header against the Fife Flyers on March 20/21, while the team play two road double-headers against at the Panthers on November 9/10 and Cardiff on November 23/24.

Keefe's men are also due to have four televised games on FreeSports during the season, all on the road, against the Flyers (Oct 30), Steelers (Nov 27), Stars (Jan 2) and Flames (Feb 19).

The Giants, of course, begin their season with four pre-season exhibition games at the SSE Arena against Mora IK on August 17/18 and Herning Blue Fox on August 23/24.

That's then followed by the start of their Champions Hockey League campaign, which sees them welcome Czech side Bili Tygri Liberec and Augsburger Panther of Germany to the SSE Arena on August 29 and 31 respectively.

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