Belfast Telegraph

Giants ready to bounce back after fading against Storm

By John Flack

Derrick Walser gave his leg-weary players a day off yesterday to prepare for tonight's Elite League clash with Braehead Clan at the SSE Arena (7pm) when the Belfast Giants will be hoping to get back to winning ways.

Manchester Storm ended the Giants' eight-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory at the same venue on Wednesday and player-coach Walser attributed the defeat, in part at least, to fatigue.

The Clan travel to Belfast in sixth-place in the standings while the Giants trail leaders Cardiff Devils by six points with the benefit of a game in hand following their first loss in 11 matches

Walser's team have beaten the Clan in all four previous encounters this season, including a 5-1 league win on Monday night in Glasgow but the 38-year-old Canadian is taking nothing for granted.

"Once you beat a team you can't go back to the past and say we beat them 5-1 so we'll do it again, not in this league," he said.

"The scoreline didn't reflect the game and they played well for two periods; it was even and then we capitalised on our chances.

"We can't go in thinking because we beat them the last few times, it's going to be a walk in the park; no, it's going to be a tough one and we need to bring our 'A' game.

"They've been winning a lot of games on the road like we were this time last year so they're going to bring us their best effort into the game.

"We've got to be prepared to play our best game as well and don't make this losing streak turn into two games.

"We've got to get back on to a winning streak again, make sure it's one and then go out against Coventry on Monday and turn it into two."

In spite of Wednesday night's defeat against Manchester, Walser was able to find positives in the performance and he's happy with where the Giants are in the standings following the best sequence of results to date during his 18-month tenure.

"Manchester were the better team and we just looked tired and flat and I think four games in seven nights and the travelling took its toll," he added.

"We didn't quit, that was the good news and I'm proud of the guys although when you're tired mentally and physically, mistakes can creep in.

"But in the third period we got some power-plays, created some opportunities and battled to the end even though we were out of gas and running on fumes.

"We need time to practice but it's tough with so many games.We're doing the best we can and we'll work on things on the morning of the Braehead game after a day off to recover.

"I'm happy with where we are now and if I'd been told we'd be four points or six points off the top after 25 games in, I'd have taken it in a heartbeat.

"Manchester caught us on an off-night just like we've caught other teams on an off-night and it's a battle of fitness now for the last 25 games but we've no injuries and everyone is healthy so that's a bonus."

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