WPFG: BELFAST GIANTS

Todd Kelman of the Belfast Giants doing the quiz Photo: © Michael Fisher

Todd Kelman of the Belfast Giants doing the quiz Photo: © Michael Fisher

The World Police and Fire Games said thank you to its volunteers by offering them free seats at a recent pre-season friendly match involving the Belfast Giants and Bolzano/Bozen Foxes from Südtirol in Italy.

DCAL MInister Carál Ní Chuilín throws in the puck Photo: Michael Fisher

DCAL MInister Carál Ní Chuilín throws in the puck Photo: Michael Fisher

The Stormont Department of Culture and Sport paid for the tickets and the Minister Carál Ní Chuilín threw in the puck at the face-off. The giveaway was organised through Todd Kelman, General Manager of the Giants. He had been co-ordinator for the ice hockey at the WPFG event and thanks to his enthusiasm and a great team of volunteers which I was delighted to be part of, over 52,000 people passed through the Odyssey to see the various matches in the space of a fortnight.

The previous night had been a special one for Todd as the number 44 jersey he had worn with distinction as a player with the Giants was officially retired.   It was the sixth jersey retirement in the Giants’ history. Todd wore the no.44 jersey on 419 occasions for the Giants across eight seasons and retired from on-ice duties as the all-time leader in games played as well as the leading scoring defenceman in the team’s history with 73 goals and 141 assists. He stopped playing to take up the role of General Manager over seven years ago and since then the Giants have won all 4 major titles up for grabs in the Elite League winning the Knock Out Cup and Challenge Cup in 2009, the playoff title in 2010 and the Elite League Title in 2012.

Todd Kelman, Belfast Giant Photo © Michael Fisher

Todd Kelman, Belfast Giant Photo © Michael Fisher

Todd Kelman spoke about the honour:-

It is my pleasure to be your General Manager of your wonderful city and I’m happy to now call it mine & my family’s city. Belfast has been very good to me and I love the people here. It is only right to thank one very important person – Jim Gillespie. Without Jim’s influence on me and giving me this job, I certainly would not be where I am today. More importantly without Jim Gillespie there would be no Belfast Giants.”

Michael Fisher as announcer at the Odyssey during WPFG 2013

Michael Fisher as announcer at the Odyssey during WPFG 2013

Thank you Todd for taking me and the other volunteers and games officials under your wing and allowing us to experience the thrills and spills of ice hockey. Some volunteers had never been to see a match before the police and fire games started; others like me had seen the Giants in action on a couple of occasions; then there was the experienced team of volunteers, many of whom I met back on duty at the Odyssey over the weekend. It was also a chance to see the Giants’ mascot Finn McCool back in action on the ice during the ‘chuck a puck’.

Finn McCool in action Photo: Michael Fisher

Finn McCool in action Photo: Michael Fisher

Belfast Giants huddle before game

Belfast Giants huddle before game Photo: © Michael Fisher

Belfast Giants won 2-1 with a goal after 25 seconds of overtime. The first and second periods were scoreless. The Giants went ahead and then the Foxes equalised so at the end of normal time it was 1-1. The Giants had won the previous night 6-3.

Bolzano/Bozen Foxes check the goal area! Photo: © Michael Fisher

Bolzano/Bozen Foxes check the goal area! Photo: © Michael Fisher

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WPFG: ICE HOCKEY DAY7

Michael Fisher's new role: announcing at the ice hockey!

Michael Fisher’s new role: announcing at the ice hockey! Photo © Michael Fisher

The seats in front of me on the far side of the ice were usually empty, except for one block where we put the media and any players not taking part in the action. So one of the first things I did as announcer was to try to speak directly to the crowds who sat in the seats behind the control box at the Odyssey Arena, and that meant turning around to face them during some of the breaks or before the games at which I acted as announcer.

Zamboni machine resurfaces the ice after every second period

Zamboni machine resurfaces the ice after every second period: Photo © Michael Fisher

I have enjoyed my week at the Odyssey Arena. Thanks to the event controller Todd Kelman (General Manager of Belfast Giants) and Beni McAllister (coach of NI Tridents) along with Kate and a host of great volunteers for giving me a valuable insight into event management and for inviting me to do the announcing at many of the games. It has been a pleasure to be back at work and interacting with the general public.

Russia Home Affairs Ministry v Service Incendie de Montréal: Photo © Michael Fisher

Russia Home Affairs Ministry v Service Incendie de Montréal: Photo © Michael Fisher

I also took the opportunity to thank many of the referees and linesmen for their understanding and patience while they worked with a team of experienced games officials combined with volunteers who were taking on some of the roles such as goal judge or looking after the penalty box (and the pucks!) for the first time.

Zamboni machine resurfaces the ice after every second period: Photo © Michael Fisher

Zamboni machine resurfaces the ice after every second period: Photo © Michael Fisher

This afternoon as I took my break during the third match (Boston Emerald Police Department  FDNY in division II) I noticed a man wearing a Munster rugby jacket. I asked him if we should start preparing for an invasion of Munstermen on the ice! It turned out that he was from Cork and had been visiting the education centre at W5 with his family when he met some of our games ambassadors whose green ‘hands’ pointed him in the direction of the free ice hockey.

Scores:

New York Fire & Ice  5  Trondheim Fire Department  1  (45+)

Russia Home Affairs Ministry  5  Service Incendie de Montréal  3  (45+)

Boston Police Emerald Department  3  Fire Department New York  5  (Division II)

Windsor 45s  3  Jyväskylä Fire  8  (Division II)

45+ & Division II tables at 31/07/13

45+ & Division II tables at 31/07/13

There will be no games tomorrow (Thursday 1st August) because the opening ceremony for the world police and fire games 2013 is taking place at the King’s Hall in Belfast. The ice hockey will resume at the Odyssey Arena on Friday.

Announcing at the ice hockey: WPFG picture

Announcing at the ice hockey: WPFG picture

WPFG: ICE HOCKEY DAY6

Gold Medallists: Toronto Courts

Gold Medallists Toronto Courts: Photo © Michael Fisher

Celebrations on the ice at the Odyssey tonight as the Toronto Courts ice hockey team received the first gold medals of the 20th World Police and Fire Games 2013 in Northern Ireland. With over 15,000 spectators passing through the Odyssey Arena in Belfast over the past six days, perhaps the organisers should have  started the games officially with the ice hockey tournaments. In fact the games will not be opened until Thursday when a special ceremony will be held at the King’s Hall, close to where I live in South Belfast. The games then run from Friday 2nd August until Saturday 10th.

Gold Medallist: Toronto Courts

Gold Medallist Toronto Courts: Photo © Michael Fisher

BBC Northern Ireland will bring full live coverage of the opening ceremony. Live pictures will be beamed across the world through online streaming from the King’s Hall complex: Log on to bbc.co.uk/ni. Coverage will begin from 6.30pm. BBC NI cameras will also be recording at the opening event for a special one-hour highlights programme. The programme is on BBC2 Northern Ireland on Saturday August 3rd at 7.30pm and repeated on Tuesday, August 6th on BBC2 at 7.00pm.

Presented by Gavin Andrews and Claire McCollum it will look back at the colour and spectacle of the opening ceremony as well as meeting up with some of those who have travelled from far and wide to take part in some of the events over the ten days. BBC Newsline will also report live from the opening ceremony. There will be further coverage of the games on BBC Radio Ulster including a number of outside broadcasts from across some of the different events.

Talkback will resonate to the sound of leather on willow as the World Police and Fire Games get under way. Wendy Austin will be live at the Stormont estate on Thursday, August 1 from 12-1-30pm, where the cricket competition will be in full swing. Later that day, Alan Simpson will bring his afternoon programme from the King’s Hall complex between 3 and 5pm looking towards the opening ceremony of the games in the evening.

Anne-Marie McAleese and the Your Place and Mine team will head to Donard Park in Newcastle on Saturday, August 3 from 8.05 to 9.05am – the location for the WPFG mountain running event, while Hugo Duncan will be at the Titanic Slipway on Wednesday, August 7 from 1.30-3pm, where the WPFG Ultimate Fire Fighter competition will take place.

Tonight the PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie and Dame Mary Peters arrived at the Odyssey to present medals to the winning teams in the Novice division of the ice hockey. Toronto Courts won gold, defeating North America Blue (silver medallists) 6-4 in a thrilling game. South West Finland Emergency Services received bronze medals.

Dame Mary Peters and Judith Gillespie at the medals ceremony

Dame Mary Peters & PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie  Photo © Michael Fisher

My day as the match announcer started with a high-scoring contest in which the Russian Home Affairs Ministry heavily defeated Trondheim Fire Department from Norway 11-0. This was in the 45+ division, as was the second game between Service Incendie de Montréal (Montreal Fire Service) and Finland Police. The team from Québec won 7-2.

Service Incendie de Montréal

Service Incendie de Montréal: Photo © Michael Fisher

Then came the final games in the Novice section. The dancing ladies from Finland got behind their team, South West Finland Emergency Services and they ran out easy winners over UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados. The Finns even lent their standby net minder to the Tornados, who had one of the smallest squads in the group and lost their net minder through injury. The ladies were in such great form afterwards that I called them down and gave them the microphone and got them to perform their song for the rest of the spectators. They also had a party piece that sounded very like “Glory, glory Norn Iron”, so I got them to perform that as well and asked the audience to join in, substituting their version accordingly!

Gold medallists Toronto Courts congratulate North America Blue (silver medallists)

Gold medallists Toronto Courts congratulate NA Blue (silver medallists): Photo © Michael Fisher

Having stood in the control box for three games it was time for me to have a break and I got to see the final period of the Gold Medal game in which Toronto Courts were the victors. After that it was time to help the team whatever way I could. I ended up being a goal judge for the third period of the game between the local side NI Tridents and Reykjavik Ice Falcons, whose warm-up was always preceded by the singing of a song in the dressing room. One Tridents goal came in at my end but it was not enough against the mighty Icelanders, who won 6-2. Two Gardaí are members of the Tridents team. The local fans really got behind the Tridents and hopefully the thrilling atmosphere will have given them a boost as they prepare to return to their day jobs.

Medal Ceremony at the Odyssey Arena

Medal Ceremony at the Odyssey Arena: Photo © Michael Fisher

Scores:

Russian Home Affairs Ministry  11  Trondheim Fire Department   0  (45+)

Service Incendie de Montréal  7  Finland Police  2  (45+)

UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados  1   South West Finland Emergency Services  11   (Novice)

Toronto Courts  6   North America Blue  4   (Novice Gold Medal Match)

NI Tridents  2   Reykjavik Ice Falcons  6   (Novice)

There will be more action tomorrow (Wednesday), my final day at the Odyssey Arena to bring a busy week to an end. Four matches will be held there and remember, they are all FREE! So drop in to see some fast and exciting action on the ice!

1pm  New York Fire & Ice  v  Trondheim Fire Department   (45+)

3pm  Russian Home Affairs Ministry  v  Service Incendie de Montreál

5pm  Boston Police Emerald Department  v  New York City Fire Department

7pm  Windsor 45s  v  Jyvaskyla Fire

The matches will continue from Friday 2nd until Friday 9th August, but I will not be involved with them as I have other work to do. A full schedule of ice hockey games at the Odyssey Arena and at Dundonald Ice Bowl can be found here. I will be back in action as a volunteer on August 9th and 10th and you will be able to read my blog about my experiences.

WPFG: ICE HOCKEY DAY5

First win for NI Tridents 4-2 against UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados

First win for NI Tridents 4-2 against UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados

A great win tonight (their first in the round robin tournament) for the home team, Northern Ireland Tridents and their coach, Beni McAllister. The crowd at the Odyssey Arena cheered them on to a 4-2 victory over UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados. Their last match in the world police and fire games ice hockey will be tomorrow at 7pm against Reykjavik Ice Falcons from Iceland. I had time to take a break during this game but saw the third period and the team afterwards were delighted with their victory.

I was the announcer at the other four games today, arriving at the Arena at 9:30am and arriving home after 9:30pm. In the last match at 7pm Las Vegas Guns and Hoses who had proved a big hit with the locals defeated Reykjavik Ice Falcons 7-4. It was the last game for the Vegas side, who have now finished their participation in the games before the official opening ceremony on Thursday!

Las Vegas Guns & Hoses bid farewell with victory over Reykjavik Ice Falcons

Las Vegas Guns & Hoses bid farewell with victory over Reykjavik Ice Falcons

This morning the action stepped up a notch or two, with two games at division two level. Both featured teams from Finland. Fire Department New York beat Jyväskylä Fire. In the second match at 1pm, Tempere beat Boston Police Emerald Department. The third game at 3pm saw the return of the dancing Finnish ladies in support of SW Finland Emergency Services. It went to a penalty shootout against North America Blue, resulting in a thrilling win for NAB.

For those five and a half hours I was operating under the guidance of an expert resident team and the help of a few fellow volunteers in the small control area at the audience side of the ice. You have to remember not to try to attempt to cross the ice while the Zamboni resurfacing machine is at work. The ice is flooded after every two periods and the process takes at least 12 minutes, during which time the two goal nets have to be moved and then put back into place: one job I did not try to tackle!

Monday’s five games at the Odyssey (there were also two in the 45+ division at Dundonald Ice Bowl, Trondheim Fire Dept 4  Service Incendie Montreal 11 and Finland Police 4  New York Fire & Ice  3) :-

FDNY (New York)  4   Jyväskylä Fire 5

Tampere Police Dept  8  Boston Police Emerald Dept  5

SW Finland Emergency Service  4  North America Blue 3  (after penalty shootout)

NI Tridents  4   UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados  2

Las Vegas Guns & Hoses  7   Reykjavik Ice Falcons  4

Tuesday’s schedule at Dundonald Ice Bowl sees two division 2 matches:

Windsor 45s  v  FDNY and an all-Finnish clash between Jyväskylä Fire and Tampere Police Dept. The schedule for the Odyssey is:-

11am   Russian Home Affairs Ministry v Trondheim Fire Department (45+)

1pm  Service Incendie Montreal v Finland Police (45+)

3pm  UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados  v  SW Finland Emergency Service  (Novice)

5pm  North America Blue  v  Toronto Courts  (for the gold medal in the novice section)

7pm  NI Tridents v Reykjavik Ice Falcons  (Novice)

WPFG: ICE HOCKEY DAY4

NI Tridents (5)  v Las Vegas Guns and Hoses (6) Photo: © Michael Fisher

NI Tridents (5) v Las Vegas Guns and Hoses (6) Photo: © Michael Fisher

It was a great night at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, with nearly 2000 people managing to create a special atmosphere in the stadium. Local team NI Tridents put on their best performance so far in the round robin ice hockey tournament at the World Police and Fire Games in Belfast. In a closely contested match against the experienced Las Vegas Guns and Hoses, they lost by a single goal, 5-6. The crowd really got behind the Tridents, which I’m sure encouraged them. At one stage the match was at level pegging, 3-3, but Vegas scored again soon after the Tridents got their equaliser in the second period.

All this action is FREE and FUN! Tell your family and friends and get down to the Odyssey to follow the NI Tridents!

NI Tridents v Las Vegas Guns & Hoses: Photo © Michael Fisher

NI Tridents v Las Vegas Guns & Hoses: Photo © Michael Fisher

I began my day as a volunteer giving a lift to several members of the UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados team, who must have thought they were being kidnapped when I spotted them on the Malone Road! But I recognised a couple of them from watching them in action since Thursday. When we got to the Odyssey, I was told it was the birthday of the net minder, so the team organised a little present for him: as the announcer, I got the crowd to join me in singing Happy Birthday to Roger Hemming. His teammates then doused him with a bucket of water which had been hidden in the penalty box! The Tornados went down 11-2 to Toronto Courts, who have emerged as one of the top teams in this tournament.

It was an almost similar scoreline in the second match, with South West Finland Emergency Services seeing off their Nordic counterparts from the Reykjavik Ice Falcons 11-1. Before the game I mingled with the crowd and went up to where the Finnish ‘dancing ladies’ were sitting and greeted them with the only word in Finnish I could find this morning: ‘tervetuloa’, or welcome, and I got the crowd to applaud them.

So the results of today’s three games:

Toronto Courts  11   UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados  2

SW Finland  11   Reykjavik Ice Falcons 1   (1st period: 5-0)   (2nd period 8-1)

NI Tridents  5   Las Vegas Guns & Hoses  6

NI Falcons 5 Las Vegas Guns & Hoses 6

NI Falcons 5 Las Vegas Guns & Hoses 6 Photo: © MIchael Fisher

The NI Tridents Ice Hockey Club was formed in 2010 and originally comprised members of Northern Ireland’s three main emergency services; the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and the Northern Ireland Prison Service. The team now includes members of An Garda Siochana, giving the Tridents a unique first as the only all-Ireland joint emergency services sporting team on the Island. When Dundalk Ice Rink was open, they played some of their games there.

Tomorrow there will be two matches at Dundonald Ice Bowl. In the 45+ competition, Trondheim Fire Department from Norway take on Service Incendie Montreal (Fire Service) at 1pm and Finland Police take on New York Fire & Ice at 3pm. At the Odyssey the first two games will be Division 2 standard, with New York City Fire facing off at 11am against another Finnish team, Jyvaskyla Fire and at 1pm, Tampere Police Department also from Finland take on Boston Police Emerald Department. SW Finland take on North America Blue at 3pm, followed by NI Tridents against UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados at 5pm, so please turn out in support of our home team. The final match at 7pm will see Las Vegas Guns & Hoses pitched against Reykjavik Ice Falcons.

Good crowd at the Odyssey Arena for the ice hockey

Good crowd at the Odyssey Arena for the ice hockey

WPFG: ICE HOCKEY DAY3

Ice Hockey Fans at Odyssey Arena for WPFG 2013: Photo WPFG

Ice Hockey Fans at Odyssey Arena for WPFG 2013: Photo WPFG

The busiest day so far for me as a volunteer at the World Police and Fire Games, working at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast from 8am until 9pm. But I enjoyed being back at work again and having the opportunity to do some narrowcasting rather than broadcasting as an announcer in the stadium for the ice hockey. Thanks to the regulars who usually work at the Belfast Giants games for giving me some much needed guidance and support and helping me to say the right things (time of goal scored, for example) at what I hope was the right time.

finns (2)

Finland fans enjoying the ice hockey action: Photo WPFG

With six ice hockey matches running from 9am until 9pm there was much to be done. The ‘regulars’ were great in bringing on board those of us with little or no ice hockey experience (apart from watching the Belfast Giants!). Even Finn McCool dropped in to encourage the support for the home team, Northern Ireland Tridents in the last match at 7pm.

One group of supporters who seemed to be enjoying every second were the dancing ladies from Finland, who moved into action once the music got going! Even when their team was behind in their second match, they remained vocal throughout the proceedings and if I had a prize to give out to visitors from outside Northern Ireland, it would surely go to them. I acted as announcer at the first two matches, took a break while the third was on, acted as a goal judge at the next and announcer at the fifth. I remained over on that side of the ice to take charge of one of the penalty boxes for the last match, so it was certainly a busy day.

Now for the results:-

9am     Toronto Courts  4  Las Vegas Guns & Hoses 5 (after penalty shootout)

11am    NI Tridents 1  SW Finland Emergency Services 15

1pm      North America Blue  7  Reykjavik Ice Falcons  1

3pm      UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados  3  Las Vegas Guns  Hoses  8

5pm      Toronto Courts 7   SW Finland Emergency Services 4

7pm      NI Tridents 1   North America Blue 5    wpfgpuck

There are three more matches on the schedule tomorrow, at 3pm (Toronto Courts v UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados), at 5pm (SW Finland Emergency Services v Reykjavik Ice Falcons) and the final one at 7pm when the NI Tridents take on Las Vegas Guns and Hoses. Remember, admission is FREE! Come and support the local team!

WPFG: ICE HOCKEY DAY2

SW Finland Emergency Services on way to 8-0 win over Las Vegas Guns & Hoses Photo: WPFG

SW Finland Emergency Services on way to 8-0 win over Las Vegas Guns & Hoses Photo: WPFG

My expertise as a broadcaster was out to good use at the ice hockey competition of the 2013 World Police and Fire Games when I was asked to fulfil the job of announcer. Only problem was I read out the names of both teams at the beginning and by that stage the face-off had already taken place! Maybe my timing will be better if they ask me to do another game. I did my best at the start to welcome all visitors, local and otherwise. At the end I encourage the fans of SW Finland Emergency Services to congratulate their team with their chants of ‘Suomi’. They finished 8-0 visitors over Las Vegas Guns and Roses, who I mentioned in my blog yesterday.

Toronto Courts v Reykjavik Ice Falcons

Toronto Courts v Reykjavik Ice Falcons


Taking a meal break, I was able to watch a bit of the action in the second game when Toronto Courts won 10-0 against Reykjavik Ice Falcons. In the third and final game I took on a new role of goal judge and needed to switch the red light on six times: four goals for North America Blue in the second period and then against the run of play, two goals for UK Firefighters/HMP Tornados. Good support from the crowd when they scored but the result was a comprehensive win for Toronto Courts 10-2 over the Tornados. So the spectators were well rewarded with thirty goals in total.