The Belfast Giants have had their weekend travel plans severely disrupted by a fire aboard a Stena Line ferry.
They ended up suffering a four-hour delay in their plans ahead of their Challenge Cup clash with the Dundee Stars on Sunday.
The fire aboard the ship moored in Belfast at the Victoria Terminal on West Bank Road was reported at 5.13am on Sunday.
Stena Line confirmed that a small fire had started in the Superfast VII’s exhaust system.
A spokesman said he was quickly brought under control by the crew, but emergency services were called as a precaution.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said 13 fire appliances and 61 firefighters attended the incident, including the Specialist Marine Response Team.
The Giants, whose title sponsor has been Stena Line for 11 years and who use the ferry operator for all their trips to away games in Scotland, were due to travel at 7.30am from Belfast to Cairnryan before the face of 5pm -off at Dundee Ice Arena.
However, due to the cancellation, they were forced to wait for the 11.30 a.m. crossing which, added to the nearly three-hour coach journey once docked, left them in a race against time to get there on time. for the face-off in Dundee.
Fortunately, the hosts Giants – whose head coach is former Belfast defender and assistant coach Jeff Mason – agreed to push the face-off an hour and a half to 6:30 p.m. to give them enough time to settle down. travel to the arena for the game, which allowed it to run uninterrupted.
Although they were able to arrive with time to face each other, the Giants’ afternoon plans were severely disrupted, with the team usually booking into a hotel before the game where they would complete their video analysis for the game. that evening and would get some last minute rest.
Players then usually arrived at the arena about an hour and a half before the start of the game, with warm-ups beginning 40 minutes before the puck was dropped.
Despite the four-hour delay, the Giants were still able to arrive in Dundee close to the scheduled time.
However, they had to do without their scheduled hotel stopover, making it less than ideal preparation for Adam Keefe’s visitors.
After the two teams faced off at the SSE Arena on Saturday night, the Stars themselves also returned to Scotland using a Stena Line sail, although they used a night crossing instead and so avoided the same disruption as the Giants.