Boss Keefe tipping Whistle to make a big noise for Giants
Adam Keefe has backed Jackson Whistle to step up and show his class as the Belfast Giants find themselves in an injury crisis.
Long-serving goaltender Stephen Murphy is due to enter hospital today for surgery to repair a shoulder injury sustained a month ago, handing Whistle an extended run in the team.
The 22-year-old is no stranger to Belfast. His father Dave was the Giants' first coach and led the team to league title and play-off glory during his three-year reign.
Whistle's performances since being brought back to Northern Ireland by ex-coach Derrick Walser 15 months ago have shown that his signing was about his ability, not emotion or sentiment, and Keefe is expecting him to prove that even further, starting at home to the Guildford Flames tonight.
"Anyone who has seen Jackson play will recognise his talent and how much he brings to the team," said Keefe. "When both him and Stephen Murphy have been fit, it has given us a great tandem and it has allowed them both to get the rest they have needed.
"We don't know how long Stephen will be out. We have to wait and see how successful the surgery is, but we have Jackson and now it's his time to shine."
As well as Murphy, the Giants have defensive trio Jim Vandermeer, Cole Jarrett and Kevin Raine, plus forward Dustin Johner, also on the injured list.
Coming up short in defence and having to juggle his offensive lines isn't ideal for Keefe, but he remains upbeat despite a 6-3 loss in Nottingham last Sunday.
"I'm happy when everyone is fully fit, but being fully fit is proving impossible," said Keefe, who will take his team to face the Sheffield Steelers this Sunday. "Most teams will face the same things and we have to adapt our game."