Belfast Giants need to turn up the heat at the Ice Bowl
Colin Shields wants to turn up the heat on Coventry Blaze as the Elite League title race gets close to boiling point.
And he is planning to do that by cutting the five point advantage leaders Blaze hold over the third placed Giants to just three.
Both teams have played 40 games, but the Giants have the opportunity to put pressure on Coventry with three games in four nights — starting this evening at the Dundonald Ice Bowl against the Hull Stingrays.
And if the Giants can take maximum points from their three outings — which also includes a double header away to the Sheffield Steelers over the weekend — then Coventry will be powerless to stop their lead being trimmed, even if they win their games on Saturday and Sunday.
The Giants are back on track after their slump to the Newcastle Vipers almost a fortnight ago and the back-to-back victories against the Nottingham Panthers at the Odyssey Arena propelled them right into the thick of the title race once again.
Now Shields wants to keep that winning form going so that he can perform trophy lifting duties in this his first season as Belfast Giants captain.
“Hull is a big test for us and a must win,” said Shields.
“Those two huge wins last weekend will mean nothing if we don't take full points on Thursday night.
“We need to keep up the pressure on Coventry Blaze and the only way we can do that is by putting points on the board.”
The three-team battle for the crown — which also includes the second placed Panthers — refuses to open up and instead it has intensified week by week.
Beating the Steelers on their own ice will be no easy task at the weekend as they are growing stronger all the time and coach Dave Matsos has recently added to his roster.
The Ice Bowl has proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Giants in the games they have played there. They are unbeaten in Dundonald and that's a record nobody wants to see change.
It may be smaller than the Odyssey — which was packed out on Saturday night — but the atmosphere is no less intimidating for visiting teams.
“It was awesome to see so many fans packed into the arena, the noise was unbelievable when we scored,” said Shields.
“On the ice we want to keep our form going into Thursday's match in Dundonald and off the ice we need the fans to keep their form going and get the Ice Bowl rocking on Thursday night.”