Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants boss Keefe delighted to see mean streak

By Stuart McKinley

Adam Keefe has praised his Belfast Giants players for taking his messages on board and sparking a four-match winning streak.

And despite that run coming to an end when the Nottingham Panthers won 5-4 at the National Ice Centre on Wednesday night, Giants head coach Keefe won't allow his plans to be swayed by a single setback.

He will hope to get back to winning ways in tonight's Challenge Cup game at home to the Edinburgh Capitals before facing early Elite League pacesetters Manchester Storm tomorrow evening.

The old adage of defences win championships is one that Keefe believes in and that is why practice sessions have been dominated by work on cutting down opportunities for opposing teams.

After conceding 21 goals in their first five games of the season, things have turned around somewhat for the Giants, even though they let in five against the Panthers.

An in-depth discussion with his players and a video analysis session bore fruit when the Giants conceded only one goal in their two blockbuster games against the Sheffield Steelers last weekend - winning 3-1 in Belfast on Saturday night before a 2-0 victory in Sunday's return - but Keefe is passing on any credit to the men who take to the ice.

"We spoke about what we were doing that meant we were giving up so many chances," said Keefe. "We did a video session too, but there is no magic formula. You can do all that as much as you like, but in the end it's down to the players and how they go about doing their jobs and they did that last weekend."

The Giants' last loss before Nottingham - a 6-3 defeat to the Milton Keynes Lightning in their first away league game of the season - was followed by those four successive victories.

Keefe would love to see that repeated, but with Stephen Murphy and Dustin Johner injured, Cole Jarrett suspended and Jim Vandermeer doubtful, the defensive unit isn't the same as it was against Sheffield.

Belfast-born Stephen Eccles is expected to be among the forwards again for his competitive home debut. The 20-year-old was drafted into the line-up for Wednesday and will be included again, along with Andrew Dickson, who will back-up starting goaltender Jackson Whistle in the absence of Murphy.

"I want to see how the guys respond now," said Keefe. "I thought we were the better team for a lot of last weekend in Sheffield and that's the level I want us to be playing at in every game.

"We didn't get the result we wanted in Nottingham, but there were positives for us to take and we have to build on those.

"We've worked hard in practice to make our team hard to get goals against, now I want us to continue that work and focus on these two games this weekend and execute our plans."

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