Let’s Play Hockey!

Dust off them cobwebs from the hockey bags, wash the sweat gear, tape the hockey sticks and get ready to lace up them skates – It’s time to play hockey folks and hit the ice!

The IIHA has been working closely with Aer Lingus Belfast Giants’ General Manager Todd Kelman and the Odyssey Arena for the past few weeks and months and their endeavours to get everyone back on the ice has finally paid off, with ice time being secured for the weekend of Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th of November.

Timetabling and scheduling for the weekend has been finalised and released on this website, www.iiha.org, last weekend. The IIHA have looked at every option open to them on to use the ice time effectively. Every level and category of the Association has been assessed with the view to make the most of the time available.

Our national teams will use the Saturday ice time to prepare for their international ventures scheduled for various locations throughout the world in the IIHF’s Championship Programme. This will include a Women’s Development Camp open to all female players and not just those interested in the national team. With each team’s coach and manager appointed we are well and truly ready to get the ball rolling, something that would of being done earlier in the year except the Dundalk Ice Dome’s closure slowed progress. With no current permanent ice surface in the south of the country available for these national teams to train it will be a difficult period for the teams, but off ice and fitness training could be another option which the coaches may pursue until ice pads become available, but no one can under estimate the effect that on ice training has on the teams performances.

The Odyssey Arena, home of the Elite League Belfast Giants, seats over 5,000 people, hosted the world famous NHL Boston Bruins not so long ago and platinum selling music artists have rocked the walls of the building which celebrated it’s tenth birthday this year. Now, Irish Ice Hockey get’s the chance to hit the ice. The same ice that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, NHL hotshot Tyler Seguin and Belfast’s own Shawn Thornton played on in early October of this year. I think this statement describes just how good the Odyssey Arena is and now we have the chance to avail of its services. But do not be fooled, it took a lot of talk and negotiations to make this ice time available and I urge everyone to take to the ice this weekend in Belfast.

Don’t forget to email office@iiha.org to make sure your name is down first though!

So we are going on a road trip – well then again a motorway trip, because of the extended motorway from Dublin to Belfast has made the journey to the historic city even shorter for motorists. And if you do not drive or cannot get a lift to the Arena then make sure you check out the local public transport sites to ensure you have a way up and back.

These past few months have been tough and hard, with no ice and no hockey action. Instead we, well definitely I, have gained a few pounds and found myself spending my Saturday nights watching The X Factor on the small box. This weekend, lets shed a few of them added calories and hit the ice and excrete some sweat, I’m sure you all have buckets of it just waiting to gush out. Together, let’s make it a competitive, exciting and, most of all, a fun weekend for all to enjoy and remember.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the Odyssey Arena next weekend.

Stretch them legs and tape them sticks – It’s time to play hockey!

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