Big thank you from

Junior Belfast Giants U14 ice hockey team at Kilmarnock on Saturday 28th January, 2012

Junior Belfast Giant's Under 14 team before their third period on ice against Kilmarnock Lightning at Kilmarnock.

Junior Belfast Giant's Under 14 team before their third period on ice against Kilmarnock Lightning at Kilmarnock. Despite losing 7-4 to Kilmarnock the Junior's returned to Belfast in high spirits and they are looking forward to future games and a tournament in Scotland in May.

The Belfast Junior Giants U14 team played their first ever away match to Kilmarnock in the first of a series of friendly games organised by the club for all age groups. This would prove to be a challenge not only to the players but to coaches and team managers. After many months of hard work by coaches, Rob Stewart and Mark Morrison, the team were ready to face their new challenge with confidence.

Several members of the team were able to make the late night Friday night training on the evening prior to the game and made it home in time to have their kit aired and dried before a very early start the following morning.

After a few last minute changes to the roster, the team, consisting of 13 players together with coach Mark Morrison, team managers and supporters, boarded the coach at 6am on Saturday morning at Dundonald Ice Bowl. One unpredictable factor in the planning stage of any trip organised for this time of the year is the weather. Fortunately the harsh winter conditions of the previous year were not repeated and the planned travel arrangements were not hampered. The party left Belfast on the 07:30 sailing with Stenaline. This in itself was an adventure for the players, and a chance to meet and bond with other parents who were accompanying the team.

The party travelled to the Rivergate Shopping Centre at Irvine where they had several hours to spend at leisure. After some shopping and eating, the coach proceeded onwards to its destination at the Galleon Centre, Kilmarnock - to be on time for the 3.30pm face-off against Kilmarnock Lightning.

After a warm welcome by Kilmarnock’s coach, committee representatives and parents the team were shown to their changing area where coach Mark Morrison finalised the plans for the organisation of the team on ice.

There was a sense of pride amongst parents and supporters of the Under 14 team as they entered the ice rink at Kilmarnock captained by David Sally, assisted by Jack McKillen Murphy and Jamie Scott. For this first match the team had been given the opportunity to vote in their own captain and vice-captains.

The under 14 team also included net-minder Chris Boyd, Jamie Clarke, Aaron Foster, Ross Hancock, Peter Hanna, Dylan Kennedy and Ben Murdoch. They were joined by three members of the under 12 team - Gabriel Bisaillon and Avery Rebek and net-minder Artem Muskulidi.

Kilmarnock got off to an early start in the game scoring against the Junior Belfast Giants after 1.29. Fortunes changed in the first period for the Juniors after captain David Sally put the puck past the Kilmarnock net-minder on two occasions at 10.43 and 11.45 leaving the Juniors ahead at 2-1 at the end of the first period.

Just over seven minutes into the second period Kilmarnock equalised the scores, and then took the lead with two more successive goals. Junior’s Under 12 player Gabriel Bisaillon scored against Kilmarnock at 27.04 which left the team with a deficit of only one goal as they entered the third period.

The Juniors appeared to succumb to the many hours of travelling earlier that day and they were showing signs of tiredness on ice as they began the third period. They conceded a further three goals to Kilmarnock during the third period, but there was an air of excitement amongst the team and their supporters as assistant captain Jamie Scott scored the team’s fourth goal in just under four minutes from the end of the game.

The final score – Kilmarnock 7, Junior Belfast Giants 4.

A special mention should be made of two players who received injuries during the game – David Sally and Ben Murdoch. After some minor treatment and some rest both boys, through their determination and resilience, returned to the ice to resume play in the game.

This was the first competitive match the team had played and they did themselves proud. Their outstanding performance can now be analysed by coaches to identify areas for further development in future games. The final score did not reflect their efforts on ice. There were many favourable comments and words of encouragement received from representatives of the Kilmarnock team and their supporters.

Of course there can’t be thirteen Man of the Match awards and on this occasion Chris Boyd, net-minder, picked up the award for an outstanding performance throughout the match.
On return to Belfast only one question seemed to be on the lips of the players – “When is our next trip to Scotland ? ”

Well done Under 14’s!!!!!

A word of thanks to all those who helped make the day both a safe, successful and enjoyable one for all who travelled with the Under 14 team. A special word of thanks to the following for providing for every player, a selection of fruit from Country Fresh, Patrick Street, Dundalk, Co. Louth and water for the players from Gleeson Group.