Giants set for Continental adventure

Belfast Giants are back in Continental Cup action this weekend - but can they take the trophy? (PHOTO: William Cherry/Press Eye)

Belfast Giants are potentially three games away from becoming the second British team in three years to win the Continental Cup.

Nottingham Panthers led the way when they won the competition two years ago and now the Giants are on the same path, with the Northern Irish capital playing host to this weekend’s final group as Gomel from Belarus, Kazakh outfit Arlan Kokshetau and Katowice of Poland arrive to contest for the silverware.

And the winners will have the carrot of a place in the Champions Hockey League next season as well as the trophy.

It all begins on Friday when Katowice take on Arlan Koksetau in the day’s opening game before Belfast open their campaign against Gomel.

For the Giants, they’re up against Katowice on Saturday before finishing against Kokshetau on Sunday.

And Giants coach Adam Keefe is hoping to do something truly memorable as he looks to win a second trophy since taking change in the summer of 2017.

“We are absolutely looking forward to this,” he said. “This team has a chance to do something special here at home and something we haven’t done in a long while – win a trophy on home ice.

Belfast coach Adam Keefe is hoping to win silverware on home ice for the first time since 2012 (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

“I remember that feeling – it was my first season in Belfast that we last won a trophy here in Belfast city.

“I know our players have had this date circled in their calendar for a long time and we have a chance to win a trophy together.

“We want guys to come in ready to go. There’s a buzz about playing in the tournament and it was the same in the semi final.”

A win this weekend would be the Giants’ first trophy won at home since they clinched the 2011/12 Elite League title so it would be something for fans to enjoy if it were to come off.

But who are the teams standing in their way?  Let’s take a quick look at the three sides also eyeing up the Continental Cup trophy.

HK Gomel (Belarus)

League: Belarusian Extraleague A

Head Coach: Oleg Khmyl

Last season: 4th place regular season; play-off quarter finals, qualified as Belarus Cup

Route to the final group:

Top points scorer: Yevgeni Solomonov (Played 3, 2 goals, 3 assists)

Group D –

16 Nov 18 vs Kurbads (Lat) W6-2

17 Nov 18 vs Lyon (Fra) W2-1

18 Nov 18 vs Arlan Kokshetau (Kaz) L0-3

Arlan Kokshetau (Kazakhstan)

League: Kazakhstan Hockey League

Head Coach: Vladimir Kapulovsky

Last season: 2nd place regular season, play-off champions

Top points scorer: Vladimir Malevich (Played 3, 2 goals, 0 assists)

Route to the final group:

Group D –

16 Nov 18 vs Lyon (Fra) W2-1 (PS)

17 Nov 18 vs Kurbads (Lat) W4-3 (OT)

18 Nov 18 vs HK Gomel (Bel) W3-0

GKS Katowice (Poland)

League: Polska Hokej Liga

Head Coach: Tom Coolen

Last season: 2nd place regular season, play-off runners-up

Top points scorer: Janne Laakkonen

Route to the final group:

Group E –

15 Nov 18 vs Ritten Sport (Ita) W4-0

16 Nov 18 vs Medvescak Zagreb (Cro) L2-3

17 Nov 18 vs Belfast Giants (GBR) W4-2

WEEKEND FIXTURES:

Friday 11th January
3pm – GKS Katowice vs Arlan Kokshetau
7pm – Belfast Giants vs HK Gomel

Saturday 12th January
3pm – Arlan Kokshetau vs HK Gomel
7pm – Belfast Giants vs GKS Katowice

Sunday 13th January
1pm – HK Gomel vs GKS Katowice
5pm – Arlan Kokshetau vs Belfast Giants

Tickets are available via SSE Arena: https://www.ssearenabelfast.com/continental-cup-final

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