Bishop: Giants are simply oozing with confidence
Belfast Giants forward Hunter Bishop believes that the side are in the kind of form where they just know how to win matches after they extended their unbeaten domestic run to nine games at the weekend.
Wins on the road at the Coventry Blaze and Guildford Flames saw the Giants increase their lead at the top of the Elite League to four points over the Cardiff Devils, while they've now won 20 of their last 23 games in all competitions.
Both matches at the weekend were hard-fought, with Kyle Baun's last-minute short-handed goal securing the win in Coventry and two empty-netters adding the gloss on a gruelling battle with the excellent Flames.
Their run has seen the Giants go from bottom of the table to holding a commanding lead in the standings, win their Challenge Cup group and have top seeding for the quarter-finals, and also progress top from their Continental Cup group to January's Super Final.
Aided by the outstanding netminding of Tyler Beskorowany and a shrewd defence, winger Bishop admits that the team are feeling really good right now, and that's translating into performances on the ice.
"It's that back of the mind confidence, we keep winning," said the Arkansas native, who has three goals and 17 points on the season for the Giants.
"The more times you do it, it's that memory in the back of your head saying we know we'll pull this out and never give up.
"That's infectious, and it'll turn into big wins down the stretch because the guys know we can do it, we can pull it out and hold onto wins. It's definitely a confidence thing."
On the ice the Giants have been particularly impressive, showing no ill-effects on their return to domestic action and putting in two strong performances.
"Guys are playing the right way, we're playing honest two-way hockey," claimed Bishop.
"It's an effort all-round, everyone's pulling their own weight and taking care of the puck on both lines and eliminating turnovers.
"Obviously Besko's playing unbelievable between the pipes too, that helps as well, but it's a collective effort and guys are playing the right way and we're getting rewarded."
Tonight, the Giants are back in Scotland to face a familiar opponent in the Dundee Stars in the first leg of their Challenge Cup quarter-final, the first of three midweek clashes with the Scots in consecutive weeks.
The Giants lead the head-to-head 4-1, however the Stars have improved over the last few weeks and recorded two big wins over the Fife Flyers at the weekend.
"It's a huge game, you can't afford to take a night off or even a period off so guys have to get ready," said 31-year-old Bishop.
"At this point it's about what we do and not getting away from what we're doing. That's where we're going to get our success."