Belfast Telegraph

Brilliant Belfast Giants flying so high

By Stuart McKinley

Doug Christiansen and his Belfast Giants players fly out of Belfast today at the start of what is arguably the biggest week in the club’s history.

And they want to land back at George Best Belfast City Airport on Thursday having taken a major step towards securing two pieces of silverware.

The weekend went “exactly as we wanted” for Christiansen, as his team hammered the Sheffield Steelers 5-2 at the Odyssey on Saturday night to move to within a point of the Yorkshire men.

Sheffield’s 4-1 defeat in Nottingham last night means that when the Giants face the Steelers on Wednesday victory will take them to the top of the Elite League table — with a game in hand — with Belfast having four games to go.

Before that there is the not so small matter of a Challenge Cup final first leg against the Panthers in Nottingham tomorrow night — and when the Giants return they face home games against the Edinburgh Capitals and Newcastle Vipers on Friday and Saturday.

“Sheffield losing to Nottingham has obviously helped us,” said Christiansen.

“This weekend has gone exactly as we wanted and now we have a massive game in Sheffield on Wednesday.

“We’re now in a position where we wanted to be, where if we win then nobody can stop us.

“I hope that we can win in Sheffield and go to the top of the league and not look back after that.

“If we do win on Wednesday we’ll come back to Belfast on Thursday in first place and that would put pressure on Sheffield. They would have to win every game after that and hope that someone knocks us off.”

The Cardiff Devils beat Braehead Clan last night to join Sheffield on 79 points from 50

games and can’t be ruled out of the equation, but the fact that the Giants can leapfrog Sheffield with a win on Wednesday night and still have a game in hand puts Christiansen’s men in the best position — despite the fact that they sit third at present.

The way they are playing also gives them an advantage — with just two weeks of the regular season to go before the Play-offs.

It wasn’t just that they beat Sheffield on Saturday — it was the way they did it.

Two goals from Jeff Mason in the first seven minutes had the Giants very much in the driving seat. Josh Prudden struck on the powerplay to make it 3-0 before the end of the first period and two goals in a minute from Brandon Benedict and Prudden again had the Giants 5-0 up before the halfway stage.

Ben Simon and Rod Sarich did score for the Steelers, but they were second best all night and that’s what the Giants hope will be the story of Sheffield’s season.

Belfast Telegraph

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