Boss Keefe is demanding a reaction from Giants stars
Adam Keefe has told his Belfast Giants players to learn valuable lessons from last weekend's defeat against the Guildford Flames - one that has left him short of three players for tonight's clash with Manchester Storm.
Spiro Goulakos and Brendan Connolly will both miss the game after receiving suspensions following two separate incidents in Guildford, with Jonathan Ferland also banned as the consequence of an offence the previous weekend.
A series of other penalties led to the Giants finding themselves 5-0 down to the Flames before restoring some respect by scoring three times in the third period, but it still wasn't enough to keep them at the top of the Elite League table.
Keefe now wants to see improved discipline and an increased effort level as the Giants pursue the Nottingham Panthers at the summit.
Ashley Tait (above) has been signed to help out their short bench, with Ferland and Connolly both returning for tomorrow's game in Sheffield, as the Giants reach the halfway stage of a 10-game stretch on the road.
"We spoke about our goals going into this 10-game road swing and approaching it either a weekend at a time or in three-game segments," said Keefe.
"If you look at that I am certainly happy with the first four games.
"I am obviously disappointed with the effort and the fashion in which we lost in Guildford. Some of the discipline we had in that game, both with the puck and penalty troubles, we put ourselves behind the eight ball and didn't really put it all together until the third period, and by then it was too little, too late.
"In this league these days, if you get off to a slow start and you put yourself behind the eight ball it's really hard to get back into it.
"The goalies are that good in this league, no matter how much you take over a game in the third period it's tough to get five.
"I'm not happy with the effort and discipline on Sunday, but overall as a four-game segment if we look at it that way I'm happy with that effort. Now it's about resetting and refocusing on this weekend."
The Giants have had mixed results against Manchester this season. They had a resounding 9-3 win in their last home game three weeks ago, but suffered a 2-1 defeat to Storm back in October, and Keefe knows from that night that his men need to be on top of their game if they are to secure two points this time.
"Our character guys really need to shine through in a building like that," said Keefe.
"It's tough, they make the play physical, your time with the puck is cut down by a second or two and if you hang onto it too long the chances are their back pressure is going to catch you and they'll turn pucks over and come back at us quickly.
"We need to be aware of the ice surface, the size and the physicality and energy that Manchester bring.
"We have to match it and play our game and I think if we do that our skill will take over.
"They have a good goaltender and if you don't do your best to get second chances against him and get to that net and create havoc in front of him then it's obviously going to be tough to beat him."