There can be no doubt over the commitment of the Belfast Giants players in the battle for the Elite League title.
Doug Christiansen’s men are so focused on bringing the crown back to Belfast for the first time since 2006 that they’ve cancelled their normal day off.
Mondays are usually spent either travelling home from a Sunday night venue or enjoying a well earned rest but, with two huge contests with the Nottingham Panthers at the Odyssey Arena on Friday and Saturday nights, there is no time for relaxing and instead Christiansen will have his men on the ice this morning.
The Giants will take a psychological edge into the double-header after coming from 3-1 down to beat the Panthers on penalties in Nottingham last Friday evening.
That’s not all that they will take into the game though, with Christiansen confident that the post-Christmas losing streak — when they suffered three successive home loses — is now behind his team.
“I expect that the win in Nottingham will be huge for us in terms of confidence,” said Christiansen.
“After having had the five days we did after Christmas, which was focused on by a lot of people, to come out of that with our first shut-out of the season and to follow that up by coming from behind to win in the home building of another contender shows that if we stick to the system then we’ll be on the right track.
“I think I’ve got the response I wanted from the players over the last three games.
“Even against Newcastle when we lost, we dominated the game, we just couldn’t score.
“We shut Hull down and we’re known for our solid defence. Nottingham average five goals a game and we kept them down to three.
“It didn’t bother me that we gave up a point to Nottingham. When we were 3-1 down all I was worried about was getting a point ourselves and then fighting for the second in overtime or, as it turned out, in a shoot-out.”
There were further signs of commitment at the National Ice Centre on Friday too. Something which Christiansen believes is key as the real battle for the title begins with 20 games to go.
“The guys know that they have to pay the price for wins. You see against Nottingham, Brett Hemingway getting into a fight and then Colin Shields getting cut in a fight and players crashing the net, that’s what it takes to win games,” he said.
“Guys know that they are going to come off after games a bit beaten up and, if we can have the same desire and the same energy this weekend, then it can be a good one for us.
“We know it’s going to take that to win the league.”