Today: Giants vs Devils – Challenge Cup Final
The big day has arrived – today sees the Stena Line Belfast Giants clash with the Cardiff Devils in the 2017/18 Challenge Cup Final.
The Cup Final pits the Giants against the Elite League champions elect, the Cardiff Devils. The Devils have home advantage having won the bid to stage the showpiece occasion back in September and thanks to an impressive run to the Cup Final.
The big game promises to be a special occasion with around 500 Belfast fans set to turn Cardiff teal today as the Giants go into the back yard of the reigning league champions. The game is officially sold out, however Giants fans without tickets can watch live online thanks to Ice Time TV.
We want to see your Cup Final posts today on social media! Wishing the team luck, sending a special message or posting updates as you make your way to Cardiff. Make sure to use #WeAreGiants when posting on facebook, twitter, instagram etc. and we will be sharing lots all day!
It is time
— Belfast Giants (@BelfastGiants) March 4, 2018
The six game series this season to date between the two sides has seen both the Giants and Devils win twice in each others’ rinks. The Giants have won twice in Cardiff so far this season, with their first defeat on the road against the Devils coming last Sunday.
Sebastien Sylvestre and Brendan Connolly are the Giants scoring leaders so far this season. Sylvestre has 33 goals and 42 assists in 54 games with Connolly posting 26 goals and 46 assists in 54 games.
For the Devils, both Andrew Hotham and Sean Bentivoglio have 58 points each with Joey Martin leading the Cardiff scoring with 25 goals and 49 assists in 58 games.
CHALLENGE CUP: We’ve gathered up tweets we’ve received this week ahead of tomorrow’s Challenge Cup Finalhttps://t.co/NycswN3MMS
— Belfast Giants (@BelfastGiants) March 3, 2018
The Road To Cardiff
Having advanced to the knockout stages of the Challenge Cup each season since their last final appearance in 2014, the Giants have fallen before the big game on each occasion. However the 2017/18 season has seen the Giants mount an impressive challenge towards Sunday’s Cup Final.
Belfast clinched top spot in Group B with four wins, a regulation loss and a shootout loss giving nine points and a place in the Quarter Finals.
With the league’s new knockout format – the Giants chose to face the Fife Flyers and, after a 3-3 1st Leg tie on the road, the Giants made sure of their place in the Semi-Finals with an emphatic 7-0 2nd Leg win in Belfast.
Into the Semi-Final and the Giants would face the Nottingham Panthers in the Challenge Cup for the first time since their agonising shootout defeat in the 2014 final. The 1st Leg was in England and saw the two sides meet for the second time in five days with the Panthers taking a 4-2 home league win in the first meeting. However the Belfast side posted one of their finest road displays of the season, defeating Nottingham 5-1. The 2nd Leg saw an impressive Giants comeback from 5-2 down to win 7-6 to seal their place in the Final.
GAME OVER…WE'RE GOING TO THE FINAL
The Stena Line Belfast Giants defeat the Nottingham Panthers & will play in the @officialEIHL Challenge Cup Final on Sunday 4th March in Cardiff
Giants (12) 7-6 (7) Panthers pic.twitter.com/ZuNNBwMmJE
— Belfast Giants (@BelfastGiants) February 7, 2018
The Devils’ route to a fourth straight final came with a second place finish in Group C, a 9-5 Quarter Final win over the Guildford Flames before a Semi-Final win against the Sheffield Steelers with the Welsh side clawing their way back from a 6-2 1st Leg defeat to win 7-1 in a famous 2nd Leg on home ice.
Giants Challenge Cup Final History
The Giants have had mixed fortunes in the Challenge Cup’s showpiece occasion. The Belfast side have fallen in two finals – first on home ice in the 2002 final vs Ayr Scottish Eagles and then against the Nottingham Panthers in 2014’s two legged final.
However the Giants won the Challenge Cup on one previous occasion – claiming the 2008/09 version, defeating the Manchester Phoenix 6-5 on aggregate. Manchester won the 1st Leg 4-3 at home, however the Giants came back spectacularly with a 3-1 win at home to lift the trophy for the first time in history.