Belfast Telegraph

Giants eager to make a massive impact on CHL debut: Leonard

Fired up: Curtis Leonard
Fired up: Curtis Leonard
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Defenceman Curtis Leonard is hoping the Belfast Giants put on a show when they make their Champions League debut against Bili Tygri Liberec.

The Giants welcome the Czech heavyweights to the SSE Arena tomorrow (7.30pm face-off) for their first ever CHL game having qualified by finishing as runners-up to Arlan Kokshetau in last year's Continental Cup.

It's set to be a thrilling clash in Belfast as the Giants hope to cause an upset by taking down 2017 semi-finalists Liberec before they welcome German side Augsburger Panther to the SSE Arena on Saturday, and Leonard wants to do the city proud by getting off to a winning start.

"It's going to be a really good experience for all of us. You get to play in a different competition, you get to travel as a team to a lot of new places, but we get to showcase ourselves and we get to showcase Belfast, how good we are and how far we've come as an organisation and as a league," said the Canadian.

"We want to show that the Elite League is a quality competition and we're going to do our best to hopefully do that."

Despite winning all four exhibition games against Mora IK and Herning Blue Fox, the Giants know tomorrow will be a step up in pace and quality against a star-studded Liberec team.

"As long as we stay out of the penalty box and play hard defence then we can have success this weekend," insisted Leonard.

"They're going to come in fast but I think we have a fast group. I think we can keep up, we just need to keep on top of guys and be positionally sound.

"It'll be a good competition, it'll be good for the city of Belfast and I think it'll be good for the fans to see. I hope they come out too, it's quality hockey and a lot of fun."

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