Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants ace Mason wants double whammy

By Stuart McKinley

Jeff Mason last night insisted that the Belfast Giants “can beat anyone” as they approach the biggest 48 hours of the season.

Back-to-back victories tonight and tomorrow will see Doug Christiansen’s team take a huge step towards two pieces of silverware and Mason has the smell of success in his nostrils.

First up is the Challenge Cup final first leg against the Nottingham Panthers at the National Ice Centre tonight and there will be no respite for the Giants with a crunch Elite League battle against leaders Sheffield to come tomorrow evening.

If they can win that one the Giants will hit the front in the title race with a game in hand over the Steelers and a 12-game winning run has filled the players with a key ingredient in a trophy chase — confidence.

“No game is a ‘gimme,’ but we are confident in our ability and we know if we are playing well then we can beat anyone,” said Mason.

“It doesn’t matter who the opponents are, we have to do what we do and if we do that we’ll be in good shape.

“Hockey is a huge momentum game. When you’ve got it going and you’re playing well you feel that things are going to happen for you.”

For goalscoring defenceman Mason — who netted the first two goals in Saturday night’s stunning 5-2 win over Sheffield at the Odyssey — and the other players who have plied their trade solely in north-America before arriving in Belfast last summer, cup competitions are a new thing.

It hasn’t taken long though for the understanding of the importance of every competition to filter down from those who are more experienced in the British game.

And if a healthy lead can be built up tonight, lifting the trophy in Belfast next Wednesday will be a more straightforward task.

“For us it’s different going into a competition with this format,” said Mason.

“We’re not used to it, but we know what it means and we definite want to win it.

“It’s good for our confidence to play well and to win a first championship would be huge

“We set out to win three, this is the first and we really want it.”

Goaltender Stephen Murphy has received a boost to his confidence ahead of the two key games.

He has been nominated for the Elite League’s Goaltender of the Year award along with Coventry’s Brett Jaeger and Sheffield’s Ervins Mustukovs.

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