Enniskillen 17-year-old Przemek Kuczynski is the latest addition to the Belfast Giants under 20 team. He travelled with the team to Kilmarnock in Scotland on Saturday 29th November to play in his first competitive league game.
The under 20s play against eight other teams in the Scottish League. Przemek and his fellow team mates are unable to play any of their games on home turf due to the current arrangements with Scottish Ice Hockey and the lack of ice time locally to host games here.
This is now the third season in the league for the club. With the first two games of the season having been lost to Dundee and Solway in October and November, the team may have been forgiven for doubting their chances against Kilmarnock.
In the last two games they had lost out in the final seconds, conceding goals which lost them the game and the double points.
Ten players and a net minder were on the roster at Kilmarnock for the Juniors who were to face a home squad of 14 players and two net-minders. After a shaky start, the Juniors managed to defeat Kilmarnock 5-3, deservedly celebrated their first win of the season.
In his first game with the team Kuczynski was awarded Man Of The Match for his excellent efforts on the ice.
The team had no time to rest on their laurels and the following week travelled to Kirkcaldy to face the Fife Falcons. The Belfast team struggled against the Falcons, who are currently sitting at second place in the league. On this occasion Belfast forfeited four league points after a 9–3 defeat. Kuczynski, a forward, made his mark on game sheet and attained game points for a goal and a goal assist.
The old adage about the world being a small place was certainly true on this occasion for Kuczynski as he found himself playing against a former Polish team-mate Dominik Degórski. The rivalry between them on ice was set aside after the game and they renewed friendships which had been formed almost 1,000 miles away from Kirkcaldy in Poland.
Kuczynski is looking forward to the remaining games in the New Year against North Ayrshire, Moray Firth, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and his team hope to improve on their joint fifth position in last season’s Scottish league.
The Junior Belfast Giants are currently the only junior ice hockey club in Northern Ireland and they are part of the development programme affiliated to the Belfast Giants. Former Belfast Giants players are amongst the club’s coaches and include Rob Stewart, Mark Morrison and Shane Johnson.
Members of the under 20 Junior Belfast Giants team live all over the north travelling at least twice weekly to train at Dundonald International Ice-bowl on the outskirts of Belfast.
Currently there are a number of players in the club from across the age-groups who have attended trials in Scotland and have been successful in selection for the national teams. They will be representing Scotland at tournaments in Paris, Prague and Sheffield next year.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Junior Belfast Giants ice-hockey club, learning-to-play programmes and teams should contact the club through the website, www.belfastgiants.com.