Most North American hockey fans probably don’t follow European hockey leagues. They may not even know that some of them exist. But Bruins fans soon will be seeing their favorite players facing two new intercontinental opponents.
On Oct. 2, the Bruins will travel to Belfast, North Ireland, to face off against the Elite Ice Hockey League’s Belfast Giants. Although the Giants have only been around since 2000, and have only been a member of the EIHL since its formation in 2003, the team has a storied past. The Giants were league champions in the 2005-06 season, with former Calgary Flames star Theo Fleury recording 74 points in 34 games to lead them to the title.
The Bruins-Giants game will be held at the Odyssey Arena and will be the only game in the United Kingdom featuring an NHL team. Other NHL teams will be playing all over Europe.
Needless to say, the EIHL isn’t up to the same standards as the NHL, or even Russia’s KHL. But the Giants will be eager to defend their home turf against the Bruins, which should make for an interesting game.
Three days later, on Oct. 5, the Bruins will swing down to the Czech Republic to battle the Bili Tygri Liberec (the Liberec White Tigers). The White Tigers are part of the Czech Extraliga, ranked the third toughest league in Europe by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Some members of the White Tigers, such as Petr Nedved, have spent time in the NHL. Nedved played 15 years in the NHL and was the second player drafted in the 1990 NHL entry draft.
For Bruins center David Krejci, the game in the Czech Republic will be a sort of homecoming. Krejci was born in Sternberk, Czech Republic, and has expressed excitement to play in his home country.
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