Belfast Giants' Calvin Elfring driven by children's title wish
Calvin Elfring has two very special reasons for wanting to play a part in making this season the most successful in the Belfast Giants' history – his daughter and son.
Seven-year-old Adriana and Kurtis, who is six, haven't travelled to support the team at the Play-off finals weekend in Nottingham, but before daddy and his team-mates flew out yesterday afternoon they had one special request – to bring the trophy home for them.
And 37-year-old Elfring, the elder statesman in a hugely experienced Belfast Giants team, is determined to oblige by adding the Play-off title to the Elite League championship.
The Giants face the Fife Flyers in this afternoon's semi-final at Nottingham's National Ice Centre (1pm), with a final clash against either Braehead Clan or the Sheffield Steelers tomorrow if they get through.
"I said earlier in the season that it would be great for me and for my kids to see me win something because they are at the right age now," said Elfring.
"My daughter was only born when I won the first one seven years ago and they have no recollection, but they are at the age now where they will remember and it would be a special memory for me and the kids.
"It was just too much to organise for them to come to Nottingham for the weekend, but they are interested and they love coming to the games.
"They have asked me when I am going to bring the trophy home to let them see it – so I want to win the Play-offs so that I can do that for them."
The Giants' four league title successes and two previous Play-off wins have all been stand alone – they have never won another trophy in the same season as one of the big prizes.
The opportunity to make history has presented itself to the 2014 team and after missing out on a clean sweep when they lost to the Nottingham Panthers in the final of the Challenge Cup, Elfring revealed that the team will be motivated this weekend by the pain of that defeat.
"We had a bad night in Nottingham the last time that we were here and this time we want to leave with a better feeling," said Elfring.
"We haven't played at our best since we won the league and maybe people doubt us because of that, so we have a point to prove and we are determined to prove it.
"There is a huge opportunity here for us to win the Play-offs and make this a really special season.
"We have won the league and there is a lot of pride and prestige in that, but as a north-American the one that we want to win is the Play-offs – and it is nice to finish the season as winners too."
Fife only just scraped into the Play-offs by beating Braehead in their last league game, before shocking the Dundee Stars – who had finished third in the league – in last weekend's quarter-finals.
Giants coach Paul Adey, however, is playing down the favourites tag that has been attached to his team this weekend.
"We're in the Play-offs and when it gets to the semi-finals I don't think anyone is the favourites," he said.
"Everyone who is here is a good team and it will be a tough game against Fife.
"Throughout the league this season every team has been capable of beating everyone else and I think Fife has won against all the other teams at some stage of the season.
"There is a trophy there at the end of the weekend and everyone is after it."
The Giants go into the weekend without the injured Craig Peacock and a late decision will be made on the fitness of captain Adam Keefe.