All you need to know about the Belfast Giants' game against Edinburgh Capitals
The Belfast Giants host the Edinburgh Capitals in Belfast and here's all you need to know.
BELFAST GIANTS vs EDINBURGH CAPITALS
Saturday 30th September, 7pm
SSE Arena, Belfast
It's back to Challenge Cup action for the Belfast Giants as they welcome the Edinburgh Capitals to the SSE Arena in their fourth group match.
Belfast are second in the group, one point behind the Dundee Stars having played one game less, and will be looking to ensure their progression to the knockout stages as soon as possible.
This game also provides an excellent chance for the Giants to bounce back from a disappointing midweek loss in Nottingham to the Panthers where their shorthanded roster gave it a brave go but ultimately couldn't come up with the win.
They should get back to winning ways against an Edinburgh side who are yet to pick up a point this season and are a perennial basement side in the Elite League.
Relying on a strong contingent of Eastern European players, the Capitals are still looking for that winning formula, and Adam Keefe will be confident his side can kickstart their momentum again in this fixture.
Last time they met
Edinburgh Capitals 5-6 Belfast Giants (Challenge Cup, Murrayfield Ice Rink, 17/9/17)
These two sides have met already in the Challenge Cup in the reverse fixture at Murrayfield, which the Giants edged 6-5 in a thrilling climax.
Despite Alexander Islamov handing Edinburgh a 1-0 first intermission lead, Belfast exploded into life in the second and scored five goals through Sébastien Sylvestre, Spiro Goulakos, Cole Jarrett, Colin Shields and Darcy Murphy.
Dylan Anderson added a second for the Capitals in the second period, and they fought back early in the third as Taylor Stefishen and Mike Cazzola netted to reduce the arrears to one.
But Sylvestre’s second of the night made sure of the two points for the Giants, who recorded their first away win of the season, with Michael d’Orazio’s late goal nothing more than consolation for Edinburgh.
Adam Keefe will hand local goalie Andrew Dickson his first appearance of the season, opting to rest regular starter Jackson Whistle ahead of the trip to Manchester tomorrow. Ballymoney man Dickson, 29, has only been used to spot starts and occasional stints off the bench, but this is a chance for him to stake a claim for more ice time.
One of Edinburgh’s many eastern imports, 24-year old Russian netminder Pavel Shegalo (0-4, 4.42, .867) is likely to be the one thrust into action for the Capitals at the SSE Arena. Shegalo comes into this game off the back of a loss against Braehead, where he made 31 saves on 34 shots. In his previous game against Belfast he made 20 saves on 26 shots, good for a .769 save percentage, taking the loss.
Players to watch
He had a little bit of a slow start to his time in Belfast, but Darcy Murphy has showcased what he can do with two goals in his last two games and is beginning to pose the threat the Giants front office knew he could. At this stage he is still competing for more ice time during games, and a few more goals would certainly back up his claim.
With 30 goals in 67 games for the Fort Wayne Komets last season, Mike Cazzola was an impressive coup for the Capitals over the summer, and he proved his class when these two sides met two weeks ago by scoring a goal and three assists. He hasn't added any more points in Edinburgh’s other three games, however he did enough last time out to prove he's worth keeping an eye on.
Keys to the game
1. Pace yourselves: The roster is still missing a few players and with a trip to high-flying Manchester on Sunday to contend with the Giants have to ensure they don't burn out.
2. Don't underestimate them: Edinburgh don't have as many threats as other sides, but that doesn't mean they can't be dangerous. Belfast should win, but they shouldn't go into the game thinking that.
3. Eliminate defensive turnovers: In Nottingham midweek it was again defensive turnovers that cost the Giants a couple of goals - getting out of the defensive zone is imperative to stopping shots on their own net.
Much the same as in midweek, the Giants will be missing Stephen Murphy and Dustin Johner due to injury, while Cole Jarrett serves the second game of his suspension. As a result, Stephen Eccles will again be called upon.
However there is good news for Adam Keefe, who will have Jim Vandermeer back in the line-up after the veteran defenseman was sorely missed in the defeat in Nottingham.
Belfast Telegraph Digital