Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Hoffman the latest blow for Belfast Giants

Belfast Giants boss Doug Christiansen

Doug Christiansen last night admitted that playing entertaining hockey isn’t top of his priority list at present.

The Belfast Giants coach, however, is still determined that the fans will savour victories while they wait for the current injury crisis to ease.

The problem for Christiansen is that, just when it looked like there might be some light at the end of the tunnel with Jeff Mason and Mark Garside close to comebacks, Mike Hoffman has headed back to north America for family reasons.

Despite having as many as half a dozen players missing over the last month, the Giants are still holding on to top spot in the Elite League and Christiansen is planning to down a double Scotch this weekend and remain in first place.

The Dundee Stars are first up at the Odyssey this evening, followed by a first meeting with newcomers Braehead Clan in Belfast tomorrow.

“Everyone has got a bit better and raised their efforts to help get us through the situation we find ourselves in,” said Christiansen.

“We’re not pretty, there’s nothing fancy about our play and right now the depth in our roster is among the worst in the league, but we are holding the fort.

“From our standpoint, with the adversity we’ve faced, the issues we’ve had and the injuries, we are very pleased to be where we are.

“Are we in a phenomenal position? No, but we’re in a good place and I’m happy to be where we are.

“Since we’ve been hit with injuries we’ve only had two losses and we’re still strong.”

Without Hoffman, Christiansen will continue to turn to a man who when he’s not on the ice spends his time working as an electrician to add spark to the Giants.

Ross Dalgleish was brought in a month ago on a short-term contract, but will be around for the next few weeks at least.

“I would expect that Ross will still be with us until at least the end of November,” said Christiansen.

“He stays in Edinburgh and skates with the Capitals, which is great for us, because he runs his business over there, but he has fitted in well in our dressing room and he’s been a big help to us too.

“There is no way to mask it, Mike Hoffman is a huge loss to us.

“ There’s nobody else like him in the league. He gives us defence, offence, toughness and can score goals too, but when he spoke to me, for me sending him home was a no-brainer.

“We hope that everything works out alright and we want to ensure that by the time he comes back we’re still in the same position.”

The biggest positive this weekend for the Giants is there are no early starts to catch a flight to London or a ferry to Stranraer.

“It’ll be good that guys can sleep in their own beds and then relax before a Sunday game and that it will be our opponents doing the travelling,” said Christiansen.

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