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Giants' strength in depth fills Desmarais full of belief

By Stuart McKinley

James Desmarais hogged the headlines last weekend with five goals in two games as the Belfast Giants kept up their chase of the Cardiff Devils at the top of the Elite League.

That was enough to see him voted as the league's Player of the Week after a hat-trick against the Nottingham Panthers and a double in a 6-0 win over the Dundee Stars, but it is the fact that he isn't the only man capable of such feats that has the Canadian forward brimming with confidence.

Ahead of a potentially pivotal weekend in the Giants' season - they face the Sheffield Steelers in an away double-header tonight and tomorrow - Desmarais' belief that they can overtake the Devils, who are ahead by just a single point, increases every time he looks around the locker room.

"We have a very deep team this year. On some nights you get a couple of lines doing most of the damage," he said.

"Other nights you get other lines doing more damage. We are a hard team to cover because we have a lot of depth in our line and that has been our strength lately.

"The fact that we are that deep, it's nice to have everybody chip in and it helps us be harder to cover for other teams and that allows more room for everybody on the ice.

"It's rare that you are going to play against a team that can cover all three or four lines and that gives us more room on the ice to maybe not try to shoulder all the responsibility alone, which is nice to have."

At 37-years-old, some may have thought that Desmarais had come to Belfast just to play out the final days of his career, but after finishing last season as the team's top points scorer he is showing no signs of slowing down as the years advance.

And while the Steelers could go into second this weekend, Desmarais is fully focused on ensuring that the Giants maintain their high level of performance and isn't concerned with what Sheffield do.

"We just need to go in with our game plan, play the way we play and they should be two good games," he said.

"We do some video and we analyse things that some other teams do, some of their habits, but when it comes down to it we try to focus on what we do and try to make other teams play to our level.

"I think we are really good at playing our type of hockey and that is the strength of our team."

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