Belfast Telegraph

Mike Hoffman gives Belfast Giants the X factor

By Stuart McKinley

Doug Christiansen last night revealed that he has been pleasantly surprised by the early impact of tough guy Mike Hoffman.

And so pleased with the signing, that Belfast Giants coach Christiansen is expecting Hoffman to be among the major players as he attempts to bring the Elite League title back to the Odyssey Arena.

The 6ft 5 enforcer has already recorded his first fight and first goal for the team — not to mention two goal assists — even though the season is only four games old and that has helped the Giants go to the top of the table with at least one point collected from every game.

Hoffman will turn 30 on Monday and four more points from tonight’s home clash with the Edinburgh Capitals and tomorrow’s trip to Cardiff, would be the best birthday present he and the team could ask for.

“I knew when I signed Mike Hoffman that I wasn’t just bringing in someone who could fight — I didn’t want to go out and sign a one-dimensional tough guy anyway, I needed someone who could play too,” said Christiansen, who will face his former team at the Odyssey this evening.

“Mike has shown from very early on, even before we played our first game, that he will be an important player for us — and at both ends of the ice too.

“With his ability to play in defence and as a forward Mike will be very useful to us as the season goes on.

“It’s not that I didn’t think he was a good player, but he’s a better player than I thought he was.”

The only point the Giants have dropped so far was on the opening night in Nottingham, when despite a below-par performance they still drew the game and could have taken another point only to misfire when it came to the penalty shoot-out.

Rather than peaking early, Christiansen spelt out after last weekend’s double success over defending league champions Coventry Blaze that there is still a lot of room for improvement in his fledgling team.

He isn’t complaining, though, about how quickly they’ve came out of the blocks, with the early season form at least sending out a warning to the rest of the Elite League that the Giants are once again genuine challengers for top honours.

“To have a record of three wins and one penalty shoot-out loss at this stage of the season is good,” added Christiansen. “I think most coaches would take that at this stage of the campaign.

“There is a very long way to go, a lot of hockey still to be played and we haven’t done everything we are capable of yet.

“To beat Coventry twice last weekend is a big boost to our confidence, but we have to put those wins behind us now and focus on this weekend and trying to pick up points again.”

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