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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006, 20:43 GMT
Giants clinch Elite League title
Ed Courtenay
Ed Courtenay's Giants are celebrating Elite League success
The Belfast Giants have been crowned Elite League champions after title rivals Newcastle Vipers lost 5-2 away to Edinburgh Capitals on Sunday night.

The Giants, who still have two matches left, now cannot be caught at the top.

"It is awesome and shows how important it was to get those wins early in the season," said Ed Courtenay, in his first season as coach of the team.

"The guys have shown great dedication all year and have emerged with their heads held high."

The Giants travel to Nottingham on Wednesday before Sunday's final league game away to Edinburgh.

This is not a one-man sport. We have a great team
Ed Courtenay

Former Giants coach Tony Hand, now back with Edinburgh, got one of the goals as the one-from-bottom Capitals pulled off the win over Newcastle.

"It is not so surprising at this stage of the season, any team can beat any team," added Courtenay.

"Tony always gets his players up for matches. He said he would be going all out for the win and obviously that is what they did. I owe him a beer."

The Giants, Superleague winners in 2001-02, had been bolstered early in the campaign by the signing of former NHL star Theo Fleury, a gold medal winner with Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

But Courtenay said the league success was not down to Fleury alone.

"I read recently that one coach claimed if any of the top four teams had Theo Fleury they would win the league, but I beg to differ," said Courtney.

"This is not a one-man sport. We have a great team, players who are just happy to come to the rink.

"We were in first place before Theo arrived and I am not taking anything away from him because he is a special person, a great guy for players to be around. Everybody looks to him.

"The league should be thankful a guy like him has come over. That was illustrated on Saturday when Basingstoke had their first sell-out."

Courtenay said the Giants would love to keep Fleury for another season but the decision was up to the player.

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