Belfast Giants boosted as Keefe makes return
Belfast Giants coach Paul Adey is expecting Adam Keefe to deliver more goals on his return to the line-up.
Keefe has missed the last three matches through suspension after being deemed guilty of checking to the head in the 5-3 win over Dundee two weeks ago.
He remains the Giants' leading goalscorer with five in just four appearances ahead of his comeback against the Cardiff Devils in Wales tonight.
Better known as the team's tough guy, Keefe has made a flying start to the campaign and while he won't be slow to react if he needs to protect his team-mates, it's what he's been doing with his stick rather than his fists that has impressed Adey.
"Adam Keefe has had a great start to the season. He was our top goalscorer before his suspension – and he still is," said Adey.
"He is our captain and we missed him. Anytime that you don't have one of your key players in the line up you miss them.
"He has so much to his game and it's great that he is scoring goals too.
"He is doing that because he is shooting the puck. He isn't trying to look for the extra pass and he isn't passing up his opportunities when they come.
"Adam's style is to drive to the net. He doesn't play with finesse or pick out magical passes. He can get the puck up and below the bar and that makes it hard for goaltenders to stop."
Keefe, who scored twice in the Giants 7-2 win in Cardiff on the first weekend of the season and also won a fight with Brad Plumton, is probably the last player that Devils under-pressure coach Gerad Adams wants to see right now.
The Cardiff boss held showdown talks with the club's owners this week after just three wins in eight games this season – and just a solitary victory in four league outings.
Most of those games were played without goaltender Dan LaCosta between the pipes, but he is now back in the team and that is part of the reason why Adey isn't expecting such another one-sided game this evening.
"Cardiff have had their number one goalie back for the last two games, when they won one and lost one to Sheffield," he said.
"They will be a different team than the one that we played a month ago.
"They have a couple of other new guys in as well and it will be interesting to see how they perform.
"They haven't started well, but we're not thinking about that.
"Cardiff is always a tough place to play – everyone in the league knows that – but we have the experience, size and speed to cope with that and those kind of things don't hurt you."
Top spot awaits the Giants if they can win tonight and current leaders Dundee lose on their visit to the Hull Stingrays.
And with just tonight's match to think about this weekend, Adey will ask his players to go all out for the victory.
"Only playing one game on a weekend is a help because if I need to, I can play certain players for more minutes than I usually would if we were playing on consecutive nights," said Adey.
"When you have two games it gets difficult to use guys a lot because we're trying to conserve as much energy as we possibly can and then after games we're trying to recover.
"We have three solid lines who will all play. Our defence will all play, but if one or two of the guys are having particularly good games then I can give them more ice time and hopefully make the most of them being on-form."