Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Belfast Giants rediscover winning formula

Craig Peacock of the Belfast Giants sees his shot saved by Ervins Mustukovs of the Sheffield

Belfast Giants 4 Sheffield Steelers 2: The best way of responding to one unbeaten record ending is to start another.

And while Belfast Giants coach Doug Christiansen declared himself happy with how his players bounced back from seeing their eight-game winning streak on home ice brought to an abrupt end by the Sheffield Steelers on Friday night, there were certain aspects of the performance in Saturday’s 4-2 win in the second game of the double-header that didn’t please him.

Indeed Christiansen claimed that the Giants’ performance in the 2-1 loss on Friday had been superior to that which was delivered in the victory 24 hours later.

“It was a fantastic response in a difficult game,” said Christiansen.

“If anything we probably played better on Friday night, when we out-shot Sheffield 39-19, but we couldn’t get the goals and that meant we didn’t get the result.

“We’ve held surf; maintained the status quo against an excellent team and when you think both teams could have had a four-point weekend then two points each is a fair outcome.”

The Giants powerplay, which causes frustration for Christiansen, his players and the fans on a regular basis, delivered three of Saturday’s four goals.

Brett Hemingway and Brad Smyth in the first period and then Mike Hoffman in the second had the Giants coasting at 3-0 — with all three goals coming while the Giants had a numerical advantage.

That makes good reading, until you realise that the Giants had no less than nine powerplays during the game, including a 5-on-3 at the start of the second period, which came and went without a goal being scored.

Sheffield’s two goals — at the start and end of the third period — came either side of a Dan Welch empty netter as the Steelers went for broke in the closing couple of minutes.

“We were 30 per cent on our powerplay and if we were 30 per cent all the time we’d be the best in the league,” said Christiansen.

“I wasn’t overly pleased with the powerplay though, particularly the 5-on-3 which was frustrating.

“We didn’t get enough traffic around the goal to pick up on rebounds and never really hurt them.

“Mike Hoffman’s goal at the end of the second period was a big one for us.

“Two-nil is never a comfortable lead. One goal against you changes the momentum of the game and puts you on the back foot, but going 3-0 up allowed us to play differently in the third period.

“We were able to force them to try to come at us and the fourth goal clinched the win.”

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