Giants back in action in Scotland
The Belfast Giants are well and truly back in action, travelling to Scotland to take on the Dundee Stars on Thursday - hoping for a win to take them within two points of the Elite League leaders.
Thursday, 21 February 2013
Amid testing times, the players and staff are looking to turn the focus back on hockey and continue the fight to retain their league title.
Nottingham Panthers currently sit top of the table, but the Giants are hot on their heels.
And the team are also on the verge of making another couple of pieces of club history, with head coach Doug Christiansen soon to become the longest serving Giants coach and forward Colin Shields just a point off being their highest scoring player.
Dave Whistle took the reins for 176 games and Ed Courtenay oversaw 175, but Christiansen is set to overtake them both as the busy Giants schedule continues.
Shields is currently tied with former teammate George Awada, having racked up 336 points for the Giants - so the Scotsman's next point will make him the club record holder.
Face-off in Thursday night's game against the Stars in Dundee is at 7.30pm.
Then next up for the Giants will be a return to home ice at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on Saturday, where they'll face the Sheffield Steelers.
The Belfast Giants are now owned by the Odyssey Trust, which also owns their home venue.
It follows the en masse departure of the players and staff from the team, as owned by US investor Christopher Knight - a dramatic move prompted by revelations that Knight appeared on a sex offenders' register in the state of Florida.
He has since insisted he was never found guilty of lewd and lascivious battery of a minor and that his name was listed due to an error by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
In a statement to UTV, the department said that 'non contention' pleas had been entered by Knight against the two charges involving a teenager aged 12-15 almost 10 years ago.
A spokesman clarified that a determination of guilt had been made, "regardless of whether adjudication is withheld".
Knight was put on probation for five years in 2003 and also ordered to pay a fine.
In November past, he paid £145,000 to long-term Belfast Giants owner Jim Gillespie for a 90% share in the club - but the Odyssey Trust now says it owns the club, the players and staff, and the name.