Belfast Telegraph

Keefe is relishing Giants' tough Euro tests

 

Exciting times: Adam Keefe
Exciting times: Adam Keefe
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe says he can't wait to get stuck into the Champions Hockey League after yesterday's group draw handed them some heavyweight ties.

The Elite League champions, who were invited to take part in the CHL after finishing second in this year's Continental Cup, are making their debut in Europe's elite competition and will come up against some vastly experienced teams.

Top sides don't come much harder than 2014 CHL champions and Swedish Hockey League semi-finalists Lulea Hockey, who are the top seeded side in the Giants' group, while Czech Extraliga runners-up Bili Tygri Liberec will also be tough opponents.

Rounding out the four-team group will be fellow CHL debutants Augsburger Panther of Germany, who made the last-four of the DEL last season.

The Giants will be expected to struggle in the group against superior opposition, but Keefe is eager to test his roster out on some of Europe's elite.

"This is an exciting time for our organisation and the city of Belfast, with the CHL coming to Northern Ireland for the first time," said Keefe.

"Facing Augsburger, Liberec and Lulea gives us a tough challenge with their wage bills among the highest in Europe.

"I know our fans are excited at the opportunity of watching us go toe-to-toe with three great club teams and our players will be ready to go when the puck drops in August."

The group stage will see each team face each other home and away between August and October. Exact dates for each fixture will be confirmed by the end of the week.

Belfast Telegraph

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