Knowing little and less about the British league, we’ve reached across the pond to long-time Belfast Giants supporter Jim Doran. Jim’s kindly agreed to keep us updated on the Giants’ 12-13 campaign. Make sure to give Jim a follow on twitter at @jai_dee.
The Belfast Giants are quite possibly best known across the pond for large dancing elves and that Mariah Carey Christmas video, but they are a hockey team, honestly. In fact the Giants can even count Theo Fleury amongst their past players. Yes, that Stanley Cup winning, Olympic gold medallist Theo Fleury who racked up a more than impressive 24 goals, 70 assists and 308 PiM in his 45 games for the Giants during the 2005-06 Elite League season.
Fleury’s points helped deliver the Monteith Bowl – the trophy awarded for winning the Elite League – to Belfast, and until last season the Giants had come close but ultimately failed to reclaim Monty. However under the coaching of Milwaukee native Doug Christiansen, the 2011-12 incarnation of the Belfast Giants finally succeeded in reclaiming the title of best team in the league, taking the Elite League in some style winning 46 out of their 54 games, suffering only one regulation time loss on the road in the process… Suffice to say the 2012-13 Belfast Giants have a lot to live up to.
Coach Christiansen’s reward for delivering the league title in his second season in charge was a new 2 year contract, a deal which should see him become the Giants’ longest serving coach. In rebuilding for the new season, Christiansen has chosen to bring back only 2 of the previous season’s import players – fan favourites Adam Keefe and Daryl Lloyd. With new faces such as Greg Stewart (26 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens) and Noah Clarke (20 NHL games with the LA Kings), however, the 2012-13 Giants certainly appear to have the quality to be up there challenging for honours again come the business end of the season.
The season may not have gotten off to the best of starts last Saturday with a 3-2 defeat in Glasgow at the hands of a depleted Braehead Clan, but while I don’t wish to appear arrogant by dismissing the Challenge Cup (this was the first of 8 round robin group games, with 4 out of 5 teams progressing from each group), the season starts for real this coming weekend with a visit to Nottingham for a League double header with the hometown Panthers. Come Sunday evening, we’ll be in a better position to judge what sort of season we could expect.