The following is the press release issued by The Champions Hockey League on Wednesday 13th February 2019:
The Champions Hockey League Board has assigned the Wild Card for the IIHF Continental Cup to runners-up Belfast Giants, as winners Arlan Kokshetau (KAZ) could not be accepted due logistical reasons.
At a meeting held in Gothenburg last week, the CHL board discussed different options after Arlan Kokshetau won the IIHF Continental Cup and were deemed as not eligible to play in the Champions Hockey League next season – due to the logistics for other teams being too extensive to travel to Kazakhstan.
Board members decided that the open Wild Card shall stay with the IIHF Continental Cup, and runners-up Belfast Giants therefore receive an invitation to the CHL.
“Belfast only missed the qualification at the Continental Cup by one shot in a penalty shoot-out in the decisive game against the aforementioned winners, and showed that they are as competitive as Arlan”, CHL CEO Martin Baumann explained.
“Furthermore, teams from the UK have proved in previous seasons that 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 slightly missed out on the win at their very well-organised home tournament.”
The EIHL is now granted an additional second place for the 2019/20 Champions Hockey League season which is allocated to the national champions. In line with their traditions, the national champions are crowned in the UK at the end of the regular season, not in the playoffs.
Should the Belfast Giants win the league title, the second CHL place will be allocated to the regular season runners-up, while the playoff winners will participate in next season’s IIHF Continental Cup.
Belfast Giants were founded 2000 and have won four EIHL titles (2002, 2006, 2012, 2014). After Nottingham Panthers, Sheffield Steelers, Braehead Clan and Cardiff Devils, Belfast are the fifth EIHL team to make it to the Champions Hockey League.