Belfast Telegraph

We're focused on giant opportunity, says Walser

By Stuart McKinley

Derrick Walser has a simple message for his Belfast Giants players tonight as they stand on the brink of a first Challenge Cup final appearance since 2014.

Jim Vandermeer's last minute winner in Cardiff last Wednesday night has the Giants one goal ahead in their semi-final tie against the Devils, but Walser is placing little or no importance on that strike.

Neither is he getting involved in permutations or scenarios, instead telling his troops - "win the game and we'll be in the final".

"To us it's just another game and one we'll be setting out to win," said Giants player-coach Walser.

"We have a one-goal lead, but it really means nothing.

"I would have been happy coming back to Belfast even, or maybe a goal down. Being up is a plus, but we still have to go out and play the right way and keep doing the things that we have been doing.

"Cardiff will come to play their game. They will play to win and they will know that if they do win they will at least be level in the tie.

"We'll just be focusing on trying to win the game because it's simple for us, we know that if we win the game we'll be in the final."

The Giants go into the game in red-hot form, with seven regulation time wins in succession.

They have scored a massive 39 goals in that time too and after being starved of silverware since the runaway Elite League title victory under Paul Adey three years ago Giants fans are hoping that there will be something tangible as a reward for this season's fine form.

Cardiff can have a say in how the Giants' quest for silverware turns out as they also currently lead the league table by a point - although the Giants can hit the front when they face the Dundee Stars on Friday night - but Walser is employing tunnel vision.

He is taking the 'one game at a time' approach but not because he is copying any template from elsewhere, but because it's a policy that has worked for the Giants over the last two and a half months when they have taken at least a point from 19 of their last 21 league games.

"We are one game away from a final and a shot at a trophy. That's our only focus. The games on Friday and Sunday will look after themselves when they come around," said Walser.

"We try to control what we can control. Injuries, sickness, refereeing calls, all of that, we leave all that and we just have to try to deal with it as best we can.

"We'll try to play our game, compete and if everyone does that we'll give ourselves a great chance to win the game."

Belfast Telegraph

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