Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants must add steel to be successful, says Derrick Walser

By Stuart McKinley

Derrick Walser has told his Belfast Giants players to forget tomorrow's Elite League blockbuster against the Sheffield Steelers and focus on heading to Yorkshire with the confidence gained from getting back to winning ways.

It is four games since the Giants won in regulation time, claiming victory against Braehead Clan in a shoot-out and losing in overtime to the Dundee Stars and Cardiff Devils, the latter of those in an Elite League clash.

Walser's men face Clan again tonight in the Challenge Cup and even though a place in the knockout stages has already been secured and tomorrow's game is by far the most important of the weekend he won't settle for anyone taking a night off with the Steelers match in mind.

And he is warning that there is a major risk of getting caught out by an improving team if that happens.

"Braehead are getting stronger, they are finding their game right now so we've got to be ready and on our toes," said Walser.

"We can't look past them and think that just because we have clinched our spot in the next round it's going to be an easy game because they are still battling for their own spot, we want to make it as hard as possible and we want to get back on the winning streak.

"One thing I have started to realise about (Braehad coach) Ryan Finnerty is that he's starting to change his game up a little bit.

"They are starting to get more aggressive.

"It's a game of speed and you've got to be ready to play at a faster pace.

"We're used to playing quick. You've got to be ready for them," he added.

Mike Forney scored one and assisted on the other as the Giants went down 3-2 to Cardiff in last Saturday night's first home league game of the season.

The 28-year-old's current form is just one positive that Walser took out of that game.

The result might not have been what he wanted, but the performance - and the fact that the Giants did get a point from the game to give them three points from their opening two league outings - gave him reasons to be cheerful.

"I like the way we are playing," he said.

"We are playing tight, we're not giving up a lot of chances, we're not willing to sell the farm and the more you play these tight games the more comfortable you get into it and it's going to help us down the road.

"You've got to learn to win the games 2-1, 3-2, 2-2 going into over time and the more we get in there the better we're going to feel.

"We are hoping to get a couple of games that don't go into overtime, but I like how we're playing and I am extremely happy that we are getting the luck in the end with results, but we have to be smart too," Walser added.

"We're not willing to open up the game too much and try to win 5-4.

"I would rather see 2-1, 3-2 versus 5-4 games."

The signing of Jackson Whistle and the form of both the new comer and long-term number one Stephen Murphy means that for the first time Walser is in a position where he has to make a call about which goaltender will get the nod for tonight's game.

Whistle is fit after having to be withdrawn during the third period of the defeat to the Devils and the player-coach has revealed that his decision has been made, but won't divulge which man will face Clan.

It is likely that whoever plays this evening will then make way for the other when it comes to taking on Sheffield in the big one tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph


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