Belfast Giants look to finish the season on a high note

Robby Sandrock of the Belfast Giants
Robby Sandrock of the Belfast Giants

The Belfast Giants will look to make a little bit of franchise history this weekend as the ice hockey season reaches it climax with the Play-Off Finals in Nottingham.

None of the four Giants teams that have previously won the Elite League title has gone on to clinch the Play-offs in the same season.

This group of players has a chance to do just that.

In Saturday’s semi-final they must get past a tenacious Fife Flyers side that has made the Final Four for the first time in their history.

The winners will take on either Sheffield or Braehead in Sunday’s Grand Final.

“It would be nice to finish the season on a positive note but we still have two games to play and we still have to go out there and get a result in the first game against Fife in order to even play in the second one and that’s not going to be easy,” said Giants coach Paul Adey.

“Fife have played some good hockey and beaten some big teams in order just to get to the play-offs and now they’re in the semi-finals with nothing to lose.”

However, Adey believes his team are focused and ready for the task ahead.

He continued: “The guys have been a bit grumpy this week and I like it when they’re a bit grumpy because that means they’re ready to go. In practice you get that feeling they’re itching to get out on the ice.”

The Giants have won the play-off championship just twice in their history. In 2003 Robby Sandrock was a young defenceman trying to make a career for himself in Europe but last year was one of a number of this year’s roster that suffered overtime heartbreak when they were beaten by the Nottingham Panthers.

“It seems like such a long time ago but winning the play-off title was a great experience. It was the first championship I won and it’s a great feeling to win that final game of the year and celebrate on the ice with you team mates. I was only 23 at the time and the experience of winning that year really helped me out when I went to Europe and hopefully all that has happened since helps this weekend,” said Sandrock.

The second victory came four years ago when Evan Cheverie scored the winning penalty shot to beat the Cardiff Devils and captain Colin Shields lifted the trophy.