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Ireland Is Catching Ice Hockey Fever
Though ice hockey has long been a sport dominated by Canadians, Russians, and America’s NHL, Ireland is fast catching on to the sport.
There are currently only two hockey rinks, both in Belfast, and the Republic of Ireland has no rinks to call its own. However this hasn’t stopped ice hockey enthusiasts from lacing up their skates and taking to the ice, no matter how far they have to travel to get their.
Belfast even has its own professional team, the Belfast Giants who are part of the professional Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) pictured in the photos above and below.
The team plays at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena, and have amassed a loyal fan following since they were first founded in 2000.
In addition to Belfast’s professional team, the city is now host to amateur players who have uncovered a love for the sport.
According to a recent report from a Canadian newspaper, one of the driving forces behind the new found love for the sport comes from Belfast being the host for the 2013 World Police and Fire Games.
The event includes an ice hockey competition, which quickly had police officers and fire fighters from throughout the Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland struggling to come up with their own team. The team, the Belfast Titans, draws in hockey enthusiasts from far and wide:
Sports enthusiasts from throughout Northern Ireland’s ranks of police, firefighters and prison guards were urged by Belfast games organizers to begin learning the sport. A weekly 90-minute practice and scrimmage was arranged, and some 40 players said they’d be interested.
Several players compared themselves to the Jamaican bobsledders who competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and inspired the Disney movie Cool Runnings.
The oldest to come out so far is 55; the youngest is 23. Three women routinely come out to play and several players from Dublin make a four-hour round trip to play each week. Another skater from Cork, a county near Ireland’s southern coast, tries to make it once a month.
From The Star