Champions Hockey League: Belfast Giants accept wild card entry

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'Exciting for the city and the team' - Belfast Giants to make Champions League debut

The Belfast Giants will make their debut in the prestigious Champions Hockey League next season.

The team have accepted a wild card entry to Europe's top club competition after finishing runners-up at the Continental Cup staged in Belfast.

The Giants lost last month's final to Arlan on a penalty shoot-out, but the Kazahkstan winners are unable to play in the CHL for logistical reasons.

The draw for the group stages is in May with the opening game in August.

Sweden's Frolunda Indians are the defending champions having defeated Red Bull Munich last week to be crowned champions for a third time.

The decision to award the Giants a place via the Continental Cup means the Elite Ice Hockey League is granted an additional second place in the 2019/20 CHL.

Should Belfast win the league title, the CHL place will then be given to the league runners-up.

Belfast Giants team captain Blair Riley accepts the silver trophy from Continental Cup tournament chairman Igor Nemecekto
Belfast Giants team captain Blair Riley accepts the silver trophy from Continental Cup tournament chairman Igor Nemecekto

"Belfast only missed the qualification at the Continental Cup by one shot in a penalty shoot-out in the decisive game and showed they are as competitive as Arlan," stated CHL Chief Executive Officer Martin Baumann.

"Teams from the UK have proved in previous seasons they are ready to compete with the bigger hockey nations and also that their fans are very enthusiastic about the Champions Hockey League.

"That's why we are happy to invite Belfast to our competition, even though they narrowly missed out on the win at their very well-organised home tournament."

A total of 32 teams will participate across 125 games in next season's competition, with the Giants entering at the four-team group stage.