On December 2nd, 2000, the Stena Line Belfast Giants played their very first game at the newly opened SSE Arena, Belfast – then called the Odyssey Arena.
A sell out crowd of 7,200+ people packed in to see Belfast’s newest sporting stars hit the ice against the Ayr Scottish Eagles.
The Giants lost the game but won the hearts of the city despite starting the season with a record of 4 wins and 11 losses in their first 15 games. After opening night, the Giants sold out every single home game for the remainder of the season, becoming one of the toughest teams to beat at home finishing with a record of 13 wins and 4 losses in year one.
Stars like Rob Stewart, Kory Karlander, Shane Johnson, Jason Bowen, Todd Kelman, Colin Ward, Jeff Hoad and Paxton Schulte became household names in Belfast that year and helped make the Giants a massive sporting phenomenon.
The 2000/01 Belfast Giants finished in sixth place out of nine teams, but their home performance propelled them into the limelight in Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland.
In eighteen seasons, the Giants have never had a losing record at The SSE Arena and have always finished fifth or higher since Year One.
Across the years, fans will have many memorable moments come to mind including opening night, the first championship you saw the Giants win, Theo Fleury’s debut, the Boston Bruins and, last weekend, the NCAA – which played their fourth tournament of competitive games outside the US at The SSE Arena! Not forgetting the Continental Cup Final still to come in January 2019.
So far, in season 19, the Giants have won 9 games at home out of their first twelve, continuing a dominance at The SSE Arena that began in Year One (game two)…
Happy Anniversary to everyone that was there on opening night and has supported us ever since – the past 18 years have been both fantastic & memorable with the future looking even brighter!