Belfast Giants coach Thornton has player poser
Edinburgh Capitals 2 Belfast Giants 4
Steve Thornton will be back in the Belfast Giants line-up for the first-leg of the British Knockout Cup semi-final against the Cardiff Devils on Wednesday night.
And that means that it’s decision time for the Belfast Giants player-coach.
The Giants currently have one non-British qualified player too many to comply with Elite League rules and with everyone nearing full fitness someone will have to spend the next six games — the minimum de-registration period — watching from the sidelines.
And that will mean the odd man out will miss both legs of the Knockout Cup semi-final as well as two Challenge Cup final dates with Manchester Phoenix.
One man who it won’t be — barring a late injury — is leading goalscorer Paul Deniset. With Colin Shields creeping up on him in the goal charts, Deniset blew the competition out of the water on Saturday night when he helped himself to five goals in the all-action 8-6 win at home to the Hull Stingrays.
He didn’t get onto the scoresheet last night though, as the Edinburgh Capitals took advantage of fatigue in the Giants camp in their third game in as many nights to win 4-2.
“The way I feel right now I definitely will be back on Wednesday night,” said Thornton.
“I have taken a full week off like I was supposed to, now I am getting into some training and I have trained pretty hard.
“I have felt fine, no headaches and feeling more like myself.
“We will see where guys are at and if we have a healthy roster it’s a great problem to have.
“It’s a hockey decision, that’s my job and I’ve been fortunate this season that we were pretty successful in the recruiting of guys that we haven’t had to fire anybody.
“That would have been something that I wouldn't have looked forward to. You have to do it, it’s part of being in management I suppose.
“This is just another decision that has to be made. I will do what’s best for the team and I won’t look back.
“It’s hard because not a lot of guys deserve to be sitting out. It’ll be based on whether there are any tweaks, pulls or injuries.”