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Giants must take grip of title race: Walser

By Stuart McKinley

Derrick Walser wants his Belfast Giants players to instantly forget their Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to the Cardiff Devils and instead turn their focus towards cranking up the pressure on the Welsh side in the Elite League title race.

The Giants slumped to a 5-1 loss in the second leg of the last four tie on Wednesday night after holding a 5-4 lead from the first meeting seven days earlier.

That killed off the first opportunity to lift silverware this season, but Walser and his players still have their sights on trophies.

Over the last two and a half months the Giants have gradually chipped away at a gap which once saw the Devils sit 15 points ahead of them in the title race and they are now in pole position to overtake them thanks to taking at least a point out of 19 of their last 21 games.

Victory over the Dundee Stars at the SSE Arena tonight would take the Giants into top spot and while Cardiff would have two games in hand the onus would then be on them to win those.

Cardiff play Coventry Blaze tomorrow night and then face the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday, when the Giants make the trip to the Fife Flyers, before what is set to be a huge weekend in Belfast when the Devils come for a double-header next Friday and Saturday.

"We've tried to go to the well too many times and it finally caught up with us and bit us on the rear end," said Walser.

"I'm still proud of the guys. We had an opportunity, it's one down, now we've just got to forget about it and move on to the next one."

Walser expects the four meetings between the teams to come between now and the end of the season to be the key games.

"Nobody is beating Cardiff. We have done it, but we're not getting any help so we'll just have to try to do it ourselves," he said.

Walser has what could be a key call to make on goaltenders.

Jackson Whistle started the Challenge Cup game, but was taken out of the firing line midway through the game, with Stephen Murphy entering the fray.

The Giants will make a special presentation to forward and all-time leading goalscorer Colin Shields before tonight's game.

The Scotsman played his 500th game for the club, over three spells, against Cardiff on Wednesday.

Belfast Telegraph

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