Doug Christiansen will motivate his deflated Belfast Giants players by telling them ‘we’re still in the title race’.
The Giants coach is determined to keep the pressure on the Sheffield Steelers and the Cardiff Devils and only two home victories — against the Edinburgh Capitals tonight and the Newcastle Vipers tomorrow — will suffice as the battle for the Elite League crown enters its last week with three teams still in the fight.
Christiansen is well aware that his team is in need of a favour or two after seeing them lose 4-3 to the table-topping Steelers on Wednesday night and he’s anticipating a final twist before the silverware is handed out on Sunday week.
“We’ve licked our wounds, the guys are down because things are no longer in our own hands, but now we go back to work,” said Christiansen, who will hand Nathan Craze a start tonight.
“We’re still in the title race and if we beat Edinburgh then we’re only one point back from Sheffield and if we go on a winning run between now and the end of the season then we’ll have played 54 meaningful games, which is what we set out to do.”
The Giants are three points adrift of Sheffield, but have a game in hand. Cardiff are one point better off with both having played 50 games.
Any slip ups can be capitalised, but only if the Giants win.
“There is still a lot of hockey to be played and the pressure is on everyone but us. It was always my assumption that we would have to win all our games and that’s how it’s panning out,” said Christiansen.
“We need to get four points this weekend to keep that pressure on.”
Off the ice Jon Gleed has been shortlisted for the Defenceman of the Year award, something which is no shock to Christiansen.
“Jon Gleed is the best defenceman in the league and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone. He’s the most complete player in the league too,” said Christiansen.