Giants boss is banking on speed
Derrick Walser has declared that size doesn't matter as he sets about trying to start off the Belfast Giants' Elite League campaign with a win.
Only four members of the Giants new-look team measure in at more than six feet tall. Some of the forward pack that will face Manchester Storm, who are returning to the Elite League, in Walser's first home game at the Odyssey Arena tonight (7pm) come in at 5ft 10' or lower.
Speed comes before size for the new coach, who stands at 5ft 10' himself, as well as the impact that his players will have one the ice.
"Size really doesn't matter. It's who wants it more," he said.
"Of course, if you get into a fist fight you want some size, but there are a lot of small guys who can hit harder than big guys.
"It's a big rink, on a smaller rink in the NHL size can maybe be a factor. Speed, hockey IQ will hide our size. I would rather have the puck."
Walser experienced mixed fortunes on his first weekend as Giants player-coach, with a defeat to the Dundee Stars, followed by a win against the Edinburgh Capitals in their Challenge Cup double header.
While the pre-season target might be a trophy treble, their performance in the league is what ultimately the Giants will be judged on and Walser is happy to take the team built by Director of Hockey Operations Steve Thornton into battle for the top prize - with the need for speed uppermost in his mind.
"Everything I asked of Steve, we were on the same page right off the bat," he said.
"I asked for speed, guys who can skate, if they can't skate just tell them 'no thank you' because that is how hockey is won."