Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants can take title race right to the wire: Awada

By Stuart McKinley

George Awada last night urged his Belfast Giants team-mates to take the Elite League title race right down to the wire.

And that means setting up a ‘winner-takes-all’ final night battle with Coventry Blaze.

Coventry missed the chance to open up a seven point lead over the Giants when they lost to the Cardiff Devils last night, but Steve Thornton’s side have just 10 games left in which to close the gap.

It’s a sizeable task that Awada and his colleagues have been set, but it’s not a challenge he is about to shirk.

“Nobody in our locker room is giving up on winning the league and I don’t see why we should,” said Awada.

“It’s going to be difficult and the mindset in north America is different to here where the Play-offs matter most rather than the league.

“Coventry have to keep winning their games, they go to Nottingham this weekend and if we can get four points from our matches against Sheffield then things can change.

“When the fixtures came out at the start of the season we all looked at that last match in Coventry and thought it could be a big one. In my time here the league has never got right down to the last night, but right now we’d take it. It’d be great.

“Coventry would probably be the favourites because they have had the better of the series between us this season, but we’ve gone in there before with the odds against us and won big games.”

The Steelers arrive in Belfast tonight before both teams head for Yorkshire tomorrow morning for a re-match in the evening.

Just two weeks ago the Giants won a Saturday night match in Sheffield, but then lost to the Steelers on the second night of a double header.

This time Awada has a plan that he hopes will see the Giants skate away with all the points, rather than sharing the spoils.

“Sheffield isn’t an easy place to go, but it is more comfortable than going to Cardiff,” said Awada, after the Giants lost 4-0 in the Welsh capital on Wednesday.

“We have three games in four nights and although it hasn’t started well for us it’s a chance for us to pick up points.

“It’s good to have the same team back-to-back because if you do your jobs right you can wear them down and make it hard for them to come back the next night.

“As well as that we’re both flying on Saturday morning, so nobody gets an advantage from that. If anything it benefits us because we know what it’s like to get up the morning after a tough game and have to travel because we do it almost every weekend.”

Giants tough guy Sean McMorrow is planning a hot reception for the Steelers too.

“I bossed Mike Sgroi in Sheffield, his town, earlier this month and now he needs to attempt to redeem himself,” he said.

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