Faltering Belfast Giants' aces to avoid axe
Derrick Walser says he will spare his misfiring Belfast Giants players from the sack.
Despite being on a five-game losing streak, the player-coach has decided that wielding the axe isn't the course of action that needs to be taken in order to turn things around.
Instead he is running with two extra imports on his roster, which means that when everyone is fit he has to make a decision on who to leave out for each game.
Determined Walser has tried his best to spark a revival by bringing former NHL defenceman Jim Vandermeer to Belfast and he will make his competitive debut when they face the Dundee Stars at the SSE Arena tonight (7pm).
"There's less than a couple of months of the season left so I can't see that happening now," said Walser.
"You don't know what injuries might come up and given what we have had to deal with in that respect this season, we have to anticipate that there will be more.
"We don't want to leave ourselves short and whatever happens between now and the end of the regular season we still have the Play-offs to come.
"Besides, as a club they don't have a record of cutting guys and I don't think it's something that is good for a club to do."
After losing the last five games - four in the Elite League followed by the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final with the Cardiff Devils - the Giants are 13 points adrift of league leaders Cardiff with two games in hand.
The games played will be level before the weekend as the Giants also host the Nottingham Panthers on Friday night and to maintain realistic hopes of staying in the title race the three games this week - with a trip to Coventry to come on Saturday -have taken on must-win status.
The Giants will take some confidence from their two weekend friendly victories over Italian side Cortina.
Mark Garside, Jonathan Boxill, Colin Shields and Craig Peacock will return to the team after being on international duty with Great Britain over the weekend and Chris Higgins proved his fitness during Saturday night's game.
James Desmarais and Johan Ejdepalm were both given the weekend off, but should play tonight while youngsters Adam Robinson and Ryan Hancock -who stepped up from the Junior Giants to play against the Italians - will now wait their chance for another shot at making the senior roster on a regular basis.