Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Belfast Giants eye double whammy on road

Doug Christiansen’s unfamiliarity with some parts of Belfast resulted in him getting lost as he drove around the city last night.

Fortunately he knows the direction in which he wants to take his Belfast Giants team — and even better, he’s already heading that way.

Twenty games into the season the Giants top the Elite League and while the wins keep coming there is no catching them.

In order to keep the chasing pack at bay the Giants will need to collect maximum points from this weekend’s road trip, which brings clashes with Braehead Clan tomorrow night followed by a trip to Hull on Sunday.

And with half the league looking capable of being champions at the end of March every point is precious.

“Every team in the league would trade places with us,” said Christiansen.

“When you look at the standings things are so tight. Cardiff slipped a little, but reinvested and Coventry are coming back too.

“In the past teams might have been starting to think about concentrating on cups or Play-off qualification, but it’s not like that this season and overall that’s good for the league.

“There’s no doubt that half the teams in the league could win it. You can never write Cardiff or Coventry off, we’ve seen Nottingham and they are a very good team.

“We’ll see next weekend when we have a double-header against Sheffield how good they are, but I am happy with where we are.”

While Christiansen is focusing on making sure the players he has at his disposal are performing at the top of their game, he is still concerned about those who aren’t available through injury.

There was some light at the end of the tunnel last weekend when Jeff Mason returned to the team and the fact that he came back with a bang — netting three times in the space of two matches against the Dundee Stars and Braehead — has given others something to live up to when they are back on the ice.

“Having Jeff Mason back has been massive for our team,” said Christiansen. “Never mind the three goals he scored in two games, he had a great weekend.

“He has set the bar for how injured players should prepare to come back.

“He didn’t need two or three weeks to get back up to speed. He was straight back at it from the drop of the puck and showed that he is going to be a great defenceman for us.”

None of the other missing players will be back this weekend, although Mike Hoffman — who has returned to the USA for family reasons — will fly back across the Atlantic in midweek.

Colin Hemingway is a month away from a return, Brandon Benedict will be out until January and while Rich Seeley is working hard it is still possible he will be out for the season.

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