Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Kelman back to bolster Courtenay's defence

Todd Kelman is back in the Belfast Giants line-up - and he'll be staying there until at least the end of next month.

The club's general manager quit playing at the end of last season to focus on running the team, but was drafted into Thursday night's game at home to the Basingstoke Bison for his fifth appearance of the season.

And after that 5-3 win he will double-up as an important part of Ed Courtenay's defensive unit for around ten more games as the team comes through something of an injury crisis, starting tonight with a return game against the Bison.

Roman Gavailer has been missing for over a month, Trevor Johnson is recovering from surgery on an injured hand and Scott Cameron's broken foot will see him sit out at least a month and more likely six weeks.

"It was a severe blow to us losing Scott Cameron," said Courtenay.

" Todd Kelman is back in the line up, but he has skated and he'd be the first one to tell you that his conditioning isn't there and I don't expect it to be because he's in a desk job now.

"We are missing Roman Gavalier, Trevor Johnson and Scott Cameron - arguably the three best players on our team.

"Todd hasn't played, Shane Johnson has played a few games and he will train with us now that he is here in Belfast, but he hasn't been training and can't be at his best yet."

Thursday night's win - the Giants second in three games - moved them into seventh place in the league table and as they look for steady progress up the standings sixth place could be gained tonight.

The teams in the top five are tightly packed together and once the Giants put a run together - which has to happen given the talent in the team - a challenge for the title may still be mounted, but that has to happen quickly. Games like tonight's are highly winnable, particularly as Basingstoke are operating with their number two goalie between the pipes after Stevie Lyle moved from the Bison to Belfast earlier in the week.

"We need to move forward, take care of our own business and play a bit better," said Courtenay. " Hopefully we will get something from Basingstoke on Saturday and then Todd and Shane will have time to skate and get their conditioning up for next weekend."