WPFG: BELFAST GIANTS

Todd Kelman of the Belfast Giants doing the quiz Photo: © Michael Fisher

Todd Kelman of the Belfast Giants doing the quiz Photo: © Michael Fisher

The World Police and Fire Games said thank you to its volunteers by offering them free seats at a recent pre-season friendly match involving the Belfast Giants and Bolzano/Bozen Foxes from Südtirol in Italy.

DCAL MInister Carál Ní Chuilín throws in the puck Photo: Michael Fisher

DCAL MInister Carál Ní Chuilín throws in the puck Photo: Michael Fisher

The Stormont Department of Culture and Sport paid for the tickets and the Minister Carál Ní Chuilín threw in the puck at the face-off. The giveaway was organised through Todd Kelman, General Manager of the Giants. He had been co-ordinator for the ice hockey at the WPFG event and thanks to his enthusiasm and a great team of volunteers which I was delighted to be part of, over 52,000 people passed through the Odyssey to see the various matches in the space of a fortnight.

The previous night had been a special one for Todd as the number 44 jersey he had worn with distinction as a player with the Giants was officially retired.   It was the sixth jersey retirement in the Giants’ history. Todd wore the no.44 jersey on 419 occasions for the Giants across eight seasons and retired from on-ice duties as the all-time leader in games played as well as the leading scoring defenceman in the team’s history with 73 goals and 141 assists. He stopped playing to take up the role of General Manager over seven years ago and since then the Giants have won all 4 major titles up for grabs in the Elite League winning the Knock Out Cup and Challenge Cup in 2009, the playoff title in 2010 and the Elite League Title in 2012.

Todd Kelman, Belfast Giant Photo © Michael Fisher

Todd Kelman, Belfast Giant Photo © Michael Fisher

Todd Kelman spoke about the honour:-

It is my pleasure to be your General Manager of your wonderful city and I’m happy to now call it mine & my family’s city. Belfast has been very good to me and I love the people here. It is only right to thank one very important person – Jim Gillespie. Without Jim’s influence on me and giving me this job, I certainly would not be where I am today. More importantly without Jim Gillespie there would be no Belfast Giants.”

Michael Fisher as announcer at the Odyssey during WPFG 2013

Michael Fisher as announcer at the Odyssey during WPFG 2013

Thank you Todd for taking me and the other volunteers and games officials under your wing and allowing us to experience the thrills and spills of ice hockey. Some volunteers had never been to see a match before the police and fire games started; others like me had seen the Giants in action on a couple of occasions; then there was the experienced team of volunteers, many of whom I met back on duty at the Odyssey over the weekend. It was also a chance to see the Giants’ mascot Finn McCool back in action on the ice during the ‘chuck a puck’.

Finn McCool in action Photo: Michael Fisher

Finn McCool in action Photo: Michael Fisher

Belfast Giants huddle before game

Belfast Giants huddle before game Photo: © Michael Fisher

Belfast Giants won 2-1 with a goal after 25 seconds of overtime. The first and second periods were scoreless. The Giants went ahead and then the Foxes equalised so at the end of normal time it was 1-1. The Giants had won the previous night 6-3.

Bolzano/Bozen Foxes check the goal area! Photo: © Michael Fisher

Bolzano/Bozen Foxes check the goal area! Photo: © Michael Fisher

WPFG: ICE HOCKEY DAY3

Ice Hockey Fans at Odyssey Arena for WPFG 2013: Photo WPFG

Ice Hockey Fans at Odyssey Arena for WPFG 2013: Photo WPFG

The busiest day so far for me as a volunteer at the World Police and Fire Games, working at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast from 8am until 9pm. But I enjoyed being back at work again and having the opportunity to do some narrowcasting rather than broadcasting as an announcer in the stadium for the ice hockey. Thanks to the regulars who usually work at the Belfast Giants games for giving me some much needed guidance and support and helping me to say the right things (time of goal scored, for example) at what I hope was the right time.

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Finland fans enjoying the ice hockey action: Photo WPFG

With six ice hockey matches running from 9am until 9pm there was much to be done. The ‘regulars’ were great in bringing on board those of us with little or no ice hockey experience (apart from watching the Belfast Giants!). Even Finn McCool dropped in to encourage the support for the home team, Northern Ireland Tridents in the last match at 7pm.

One group of supporters who seemed to be enjoying every second were the dancing ladies from Finland, who moved into action once the music got going! Even when their team was behind in their second match, they remained vocal throughout the proceedings and if I had a prize to give out to visitors from outside Northern Ireland, it would surely go to them. I acted as announcer at the first two matches, took a break while the third was on, acted as a goal judge at the next and announcer at the fifth. I remained over on that side of the ice to take charge of one of the penalty boxes for the last match, so it was certainly a busy day.

Now for the results:-

9am     Toronto Courts  4  Las Vegas Guns & Hoses 5 (after penalty shootout)

11am    NI Tridents 1  SW Finland Emergency Services 15

1pm      North America Blue  7  Reykjavik Ice Falcons  1

3pm      UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados  3  Las Vegas Guns  Hoses  8

5pm      Toronto Courts 7   SW Finland Emergency Services 4

7pm      NI Tridents 1   North America Blue 5    wpfgpuck

There are three more matches on the schedule tomorrow, at 3pm (Toronto Courts v UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados), at 5pm (SW Finland Emergency Services v Reykjavik Ice Falcons) and the final one at 7pm when the NI Tridents take on Las Vegas Guns and Hoses. Remember, admission is FREE! Come and support the local team!