Belfast Giants: Let's go all out to down Devils: Keefe
Adam Keefe wants his Belfast Giants team-mates to forget that their Challenge Cup semi-final against the Cardiff Devils in a two-legged affair.
Instead the team captain has told them to treat it like a one-off winner-takes-all battle.
After the Giants suffered final defeat in both 2011 and 2012, before losing in last season's semi-final – all three to the Nottingham Panthers – they are determined to go all the way this time.
And Challenge Cup success could also be the catalyst for a trophy treble for Paul Adey's team, who have built up a 17-point lead at the top of the Elite League.
"It's our goal to win all three trophies," said Keefe, ahead of tonight's first leg clash at the Odyssey Arena.
"We know that if we are going to achieve that then we have to show up and play every night.
"It's about winning games and we have to have the same approach for every game we play.
"Whether it's the league or a Challenge Cup semi-final, at the end of the day it's a hockey game and we've got to go out wanting to win it and not let any other mindset take over.
"I have been here for three seasons and I have lifted a trophy in that time, but I haven't lifted one as captain and that is something that I really want to do.
"We have a chance to do that in the Challenge Cup and it's an opportunity that we are hungry to take."
The Giants beat Cardiff 7-2 on their last visit to Belfast just over a fortnight ago, but did even better 24 hours later in Wales, rattling up an 11-4 victory, with two of Cardiff's goals coming late in the game.
There has been an influx of new arrivals at the Devils since then, with goaltender Kamil Kosowski, defenceman Martins Gipters and forward Markus Rama being added to the roster.
And that's why Keefe is warning Giants fans not to expect the Devils to be rolled over easily.
"Cardiff have got a lot better lately and they have had big wins in their last three games," said Keefe.
"They made changes to their roster, they have a full line up and extra imports who are all fighting to play in every game – it's a good problem for them.
"We have to forget about the last Cardiff team that we played and try to put our best foot forward and try to get to the final.
"Anyone who follows the league will know that Cardiff were short and that they have had some troubled times, but they have done something about it and they will want to finish the season strongly.
"They will be coming to Belfast with something to prove. I expect a strong showing from them, but we won't let any of that take our focus away from the job that we have to do."
While Keefe is expecting the names and faces to be different, he is under no illusions that Cardiff's style of play will be exactly the same as it has been since he first encountered them.
"I think they might have lost a bit of physicality with the changes that they have made, but since I have been in Belfast the matches with Cardiff have always been physical battles and I don't expect this one to be any different," he said.
"We'll be ready for that, but we have to set the pace of the game and dictate to them that they have to play to our level."
And Keefe is also warning Cardiff that after taking the foot off the gas in that 11-4 win, there will be no let up from the Giants tonight.
"With it being a two games and aggregate scores winning rather than a longer series with most wins we want to put ourselves in a good position going into the second leg next week.
"The best thing for us to do is to go out and win both games, that way we are guaranteed to go through."