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Belfast Giants’ collective battle through adversity is paying off, says Ben Lake

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Net gains: Ben Lake battles with Manchester Storm’s Jason Bacashihua. Credit: William Cherry/Presseye

Net gains: Ben Lake battles with Manchester Storm’s Jason Bacashihua. Credit: William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Giants’ Tyler Beskorowany. Credit: William Cherry

Giants’ Tyler Beskorowany. Credit: William Cherry

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Net gains: Ben Lake battles with Manchester Storm’s Jason Bacashihua. Credit: William Cherry/Presseye

After a run of blow-out victories in the Premier Sports Elite League, the Belfast Giants provided a timely reminder that they can grind out those tough away triumphs that form the backbone of a title win at the Guildford Flames on Wednesday night.

The performance at the Spectrum was top notch from Adam Keefe’s side, out-shooting their hosts 47-16 and looking sharper in all departments, but the 3-1 scoreline reflected the difficulty they had in dousing the Flames.

Taking just a 1-0 lead into the final period thanks to JJ Piccinich’s opener, the same man doubled their lead with his 17th goal of the season in the third period, with Ben Lake rounding things off after Ian Watters had made it a nervy game again with Guildford’s only goal of the night.

“We’ve been dialled in lately and some of our wins haven’t been all that close, so it was nice to show we can still gut out those close games,” admits Lake.

That’s now six wins in a row for the Giants in the Elite League which leaves them third, nine points behind leaders the Sheffield Steelers with three games in hand, and, as Lake points out, some of the wins haven’t been in the balance.

The Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan were shut-out in one weekend in Scotland, the Nottingham Panthers were thumped 7-2 in Belfast and then the Clan were accounted for again, this time 5-1 at the SSE Arena on Boxing Day.

“I’m not sure if you can put our form down to one single thing,” continues Lake.

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“We’ve come through a lot of adversity. Those two games, the Fife and Nottingham weekend, we were down to two forward lines and two defensive pairings and everyone just rolled up the sleeves and got to work. That was good to see and watch the guys battle through it together.

“The last game against Glasgow after the break, we just picked up where we left off.

“I don’t think there are any specific changes or anything, it’s about sticking together and sticking to our process that we’ve been doing all season long.”

One of the Giants’ strengths this season has been their watertight defence, which has conceded exactly two goals per game on average in all competitions, half a goal better than any other side in the EIHL.

Netminder Tyler Beskorowany has been in elite form recently, keeping five shut-outs this season and letting in just five goals in his last six starts, but in front of him the defence has been exceptional, playing an aggressive style that shuts down opponents’ time on the puck at the blue-line and has been extremely effective.

Today the Giants take on the Dundee Stars at the SSE Arena (4pm), one of only three teams to score more than twice in a game against the Giants in their last 13 fixtures, and Lake admits their forwards are brimming with confidence knowing they don’t need to be on top form to win games.

“Starting in net, we have two really good goalies — Besko and Whis (back-up Jackson Whistle) are excellent at what they do — and we have six really strong d-men who are defence first but can also chip in offensively too,” praises the GB international.

“And then even up front, I think everyone is really hard working and is able to get back and support our defence when we do give up a rush. That gives our D the confidence to stand up at the blue-lines and shut down any attacks.

“I don’t think it’s anything we do in practice every day, it’s the personnel we have and the work we all put in that helps.

“Even in Guildford, we only scored three goals but we still won by two, so that gives us a massive amount of confidence knowing our goalies are going to give us a chance to win every night and our defencemen are probably the toughest to play against in the league.”

Head coach Keefe is likely to start Whistle in goal against the Stars this afternoon.


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