Belfast Giants having a merry Christmas as title tilt hots up
Derrick Walser has praised the attitude of his Belfast Giants team as they start to cling even tighter to the Cardiff Devils' tail at the summit of the Elite League table.
And now the Giants are ready to turn up the heat in the title race even more after closing the gap on the leaders to just four points.
A seven-game winning streak has put the pressure on the Devils, whose defeat to Manchester Storm on Friday night was their third loss in their last five league matches.
Both teams play tonight, with the Giants travelling to Braehead Clan while Cardiff are in Coventry.
Things could get even more interesting later this week, however, as the Giants have two more games - at home to Manchester Storm on Wednesday and then Braehead on Friday - compared to the Devils whose return battle with Coventry tomorrow is their last game of 2016.
By the end of the year both teams will have played 28 games and an exciting battle until the end of March is now in store.
"Our compete level has been there all the way through and that's why we've got to where we are," said Walser.
"We're not going to win every game, it just doesn't happen, and we're not going to play well in every game either, but I would say we've played well in all but a couple of games this season and I'm happy with that. What you've got to do then is try to steal wins when you're not playing well.
"No team is going to go 50-and-0 through the season, no team is going to have a season where they don't face adversity so it's about having the strength to get through that."
Just a few weeks ago Cardiff were 12 points clear and the Giants had to overtake the Sheffield Steelers first before chasing down the leaders.
"There are no easy games in this league. You go somewhere like Manchester, like Fife and you know you are going to get a tough game and you're going to have to play well to win," said Walser.
Walser is expected to start Stephen Murphy in goal in two of this week's matches with Jackson Whistle playing in the other.
The decision as to who will play in which games is something that the coach will have deliberated over his turkey yesterday.