The Belfast Giants have moved quickly to provide a generous gesture of goodwill for a large group of Sheffield Steelers fans after their weekend double-header was postponed.
The two rivals were due to meet at the SSE Arena for two massive top-of-the-table clashes tonight and tomorrow, however those games have been called off due to an outbreak of Covid cases in the Giants squad this week.
But, given the short notice and with many Steelers fans having been set to travel for what is one of the most popular weekends on the calendar, it means there are still a large number of visiting supporters committed to coming over even though they have no games to watch in person.
However, things have been further complicated as the Steelers have filled the gap in their schedule by rearranging a game against the Cardiff Devils for tomorrow, meaning the fans are missing out on a match, ironically because they were travelling to be cheering on their side at the originally scheduled fixtures.
But despite the rivalry between the two teams, the Giants have quickly stepped in to help the Steelers fans by putting on a live stream of their new fixture at the Clayton Hotel in Belfast, and head of hockey operations Steve Thornton has thanked all those who made it possible.
“This weekend has been in the calendar of Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers fans since the start of the season. With the games being postponed at such short notice, we knew there would likely be lots of Steelers fans still travelling to Belfast this weekend who would find themselves at a loose end,” said Thornton.
“Our friends at the Clayton have stepped in to provide a room to screen the Steelers game that is now taking place on Saturday night and the Devils are providing a complimentary stream of the game. We would like to thank them for their help in pulling this together.
“Belfast prides itself on being a hockey city and a place that provides a warm welcome to its visitors. We know how our fans would feel if they had made arrangements to travel to an away double-header and found themselves in this situation, so we wanted to see if we could help the Steelers fans that decided to come along in spite of the postponement.”
Meanwhile, as it stands the Giants’ game against the Guildford Flames at the SSE Arena on Wednesday is still scheduled to go ahead despite the club’s Covid situation, with the EIHL determined to keep playing games as long as it is safe, although that could change if the situation worsens between now and then.