Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Belfast Giants coach looks to big guns

Strong leadership is a must for Belfast Giants coach Doug Christiansen as his injury ravaged team faces their toughest week of the season.

And communication will also be key if they are to come out of this weekend with a full haul of four points.

The fixture schedule has thrown up a series of three games in the next four nights for the Giants — which would be enough of a test with a full strength side, let alone minus a handful of top players.

And with Rich Seeley possibly seeing his season ended before reaching the end of October the injury news doesn’t really get any better for Christiansen.

The Giants travel to Hull tonight followed by a trip to Coventry tomorrow and then the Stingrays provide the opposition again, at the Odyssey, on Tuesday.

“We don’t even have enough players to run with three lines,” said Christiansen.

“We have a little bit of good news in that Mark Garside is recovering.

“He will travel with us this weekend, but with three games in four nights we have to be careful with him and it’s a case of ‘wait and see’ if he plays.

“There is no other good news, Rich Seeley is out for at least three months and it could be the season for him.”

Having to double-shift certain players shows how hard it is going to be for the Giants to come through the next four days with positive results each time — and with increased ice time meaning the remaining players are more vulnerable to injuries, Christiansen could lose more men.

There will be more responsibility on the shoulders of captain Colin Shields and assistant Tim Cook, as well as Josh Prudden, who will also wear an ‘A’ on his shirt after being voted in to replace Seeley.

“The roles of captain and assistant captains are really important, especially in the situation that we find ourselves,” said Christiansen.

“Our leadership has been excellent and it is testimony to the impact that Josh Prudden has made on our team and the league since he signed in the summer that his team-mates in the locker room have voted him into the position of assistant captain.

“Having these three games in four nights and four in eight makes things a lot harder for us.

“Hull have the same schedule and that’s who we play on Tuesday night.

“We have to do as well as we can in these two road games, hopefully come back with maximum points and that will bring us back to the Odyssey on Tuesday still on a roll.

“My job is harder with having to work out which players to slot in. Sometimes it’s like a math puzzle.

“The players have to communicate with each other more because some aren’t used to being on the ice together, but they all know each other and they all get along, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”