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Derrick Walser glad to be facing a selection headache

By Stuart McKinley

Published 01/03/2016

Red-hot form: Chris Higgins has sparkled for the Giants since his return from injury
Red-hot form: Chris Higgins has sparkled for the Giants since his return from injury

Chris Higgins' return has contributed to giving Belfast Giants player-coach Derrick Walser the kind of headache that every coach would love to have.

Twice this season the Canadian forward has spent time in the stands injured and then came back to show both Walser and the fans what they were missing.

Not only has he come back with goals this time, the team around him has clicked with a five-match winning run thrusting the Giants right back into the Elite League title mix.

The only problem, if it is one, for Walser is that he now has to figure out just how to get the maximum return out of his goalscoring talent, who have contributed 24 goals in those five matches.

"Ever since we got Chris Higgins back, him, Kris Beech and Mike Forney have been our best line," said Walser ahead of tonight's trip to face the Fife Flyers.

"Now we have James Desmarais firing again - he was back to himself and he's going to be moving up in the line-up.

"Craig Peacock, David Rutherford and Mike Radja are also a good line. We're trying to figure out how we get three lines going.

"Darryl Lloyd, Desmarais and Colin Shields were solid in Braehead on Saturday night. They had some looks and they are getting some chemistry."

The Giants' current run of form - which is their longest winning streak of the season - has moved them into third place in the Elite League table.

They remain five points behind joint-leaders Cardiff and Sheffield with a game in hand on the Steelers and two on the Devils.

Tonight's clash against Fife and Saturday's home battle with Braehead Clan are now huge - particularly as they are followed by three successive meetings with Cardiff that are likely to decide the season.

Walser is trying to apply the old adage every coach uses of taking one game at a time, but he also knows what's coming in the next few weeks and how potentially pivotal every clash now is.

"It's far from anyone giving it to us," said Walser.

"We can't take Fife lightly. It's another Play-off game. We went there and played well and lost because we gave it away. We have to go and make sure we win this time."

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