Belfast Telegraph

Baun has the last laugh as Giants blow away Storm

 

Belfast Giants forward Patrick Dwyer has announced his retirement from hockey
Belfast Giants forward Patrick Dwyer has announced his retirement from hockey
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

When Manchester Storm netminder Matt Ginn somehow got his stick on a Blair Riley rebound that seemed destined to find the back of the net in the first period of Saturday's game, the Belfast Giants wondered if it was going to be another of those nights.

The Canadian goalie had produced a phenomenal 39-save performance on Friday to help the Storm to a smash-and-grab penalty shots win at the SSE Arena and it looked like he might do the same on Saturday as well.

But, as it turned out, the Giants found their scoring touch in the second game of the doubleheader and beat Ginn four times on their way to a 4-0 shutout victory for a three-point weekend.

In hindsight they can appreciate how good Ginn's save was. But in real time, it wasn't such a laughing matter.

"When (the save) happened I thought, 'oh man, is this guy going to play like that again?'" laughed forward Kyle Baun, who chipped in with two assists in the win.

"It was really good to end on a high note before Christmas. It was a tough one (on Friday), losing it in the shootout, but I don't think it had anything to do with our play, it was just one of those games where the bounces weren't really going our way.

"I thought we played a full 60 (on Saturday) night and now everyone's going to take three or four days to regroup before coming back for the second half."

With 30 games played, the Giants are exactly halfway through the season and they couldn't be sitting nicer, top of the Elite League standings at Christmas with a big run of home games to come in the second half of the campaign.

As well as that, Adam Keefe's side have the Continental Cup final coming up next month as well as a semi-final against the Glasgow Clan to look forward to as they continue their Challenge Cup title defence.

"We're happy with where we're at but there's still a lot of hockey left to play," warned Baun.

"We're only at the halfway point and all of this good work will be a waste if we don't keep it going and moving forward.

"This is when you get the chance to win, whether it be setting ourselves up in the league or winning the Challenge Cup or the Continental Cup, but it means nothing if we don't keep it going."

So, how do they do that?

"When we were struggling a bit at the start of the season we talked a lot about sticking to the process and that's what we've been doing ever since, and obviously it's been working for us," said Toronto native Baun.

"You never want to jump ahead and overlook a team, we've lost to some of the teams lower in the standings, so it's important we take one game at a time and approach every team as if they're one of the big teams."

When they come back from their Christmas break, the Giants are straight back into league action when they face a tasking three-game weekend at home, welcoming the Milton Keynes Lightning, the Clan and Dundee Stars to the SSE Arena.

And Baun, who has been very impressive with 24 goals and 41 points to his name this season, admits that hockey will be the furthest thing from his mind over the festive break.

"Coach has been highlighting that we should switch our brains off hockey for a bit and not think about it," revealed Baun.

"Eight months is a super long season, so it's important to get away from the rink and spend time with family, put your feet up and relax and get ready for the second half of the season."

Belfast Giants0

Manchester Storm0

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