Belfast Giants winger JJ Piccinich has revealed that he encouraged former room-mate Jake Coughler to sign in the Elite League but is now intent on plotting his downfall tonight.
Coughler joined the Cardiff Devils four days after Christmas after giving ex-Orlando Solar Bears team-mate Piccinich a call to scope out the league and has since been excellent, scoring five goals in as many games including two in the 3-2 win over the Glasgow Clan on Wednesday.
But the Giants will hope they have the inside track on him through old pal Piccinich, who himself has been in sparkling form having scored 20 goals and 48 points in just 31 games, ahead of tonight’s Elite League clash at the SSE Arena (7pm).
“He asked me a couple of questions, nothing too specific, nothing too wild. He just wanted to get an idea of what the league was about,” revealed Piccinich.
“He’s got a really good shot, he can score the puck. He does all the little things correctly and I’m not surprised how he’s done since he got here.
“We’re going to have our hands full with him and we’re going to have to make sure we lock him down on the ice and keep him quiet because he doesn’t need many opportunities. He will be dangerous and if he does get an opportunity, he will take it.”
The Giants’ defence looks perfectly suited to deal with Coughler and the Devils’ other threats having conceded more than one goal just three times in their last nine games in all competitions, with their latest big defensive display coming in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over the Coventry Blaze that saw them reach the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Now Adam Keefe’s side switch their attentions back to their 10-game winning streak in the league as they look to claw back a five-point deficit on the league-leading Devils tonight, although they have played five fewer games than their rivals.
Despite their form, Piccinich is looking for the Giants to produce more in order to maintain their pressure on the leaders and second-placed Sheffield Steelers.
“We’re on a bit of a streak but I think in the last couple of games we’ve been moving away from having good starts, so we’re looking to build on that,” he added.
“Cardiff are a good team so we’ll have our hands full, but it’ll be a good test for us too.”
The Giants have had one of their postponed away ties against the Glasgow Clan rescheduled for next Wednesday, January 19, which will face-off at 6.30pm.