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Change in mentality has Kyle Baun and Belfast Giants looking up

 

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Darcy Murphy celebrates scoring against Milton Keynes

Darcy Murphy celebrates scoring against Milton Keynes

©William Cherry / Presseye

Darcy Murphy celebrates scoring against Milton Keynes

Out with the old and in with the new-look Belfast Giants.

Rooted to the bottom of the Elite League table after four defeats in five games, things weren't looking good for Adam Keefe's side, with most of the issues stemming from a lack of finishing despite plenty of chances created.

But this weekend they broke out, notching 12 goals in two games against the Milton Keynes Lightning - a 5-1 win on Friday night, followed by a 7-0 blowout on Saturday - to answer their critics in the best way possible.

What slump?

While a switch to a more simplistic style of play aided the Giants on the ice, as they finally took advantage of their dominance in games, the key difference to the change in fortunes came off the ice.

"Guys are more upbeat, it was huge for us after struggling for about a week and a half there," says Kyle Baun, who is ranked second in points for Belfast so far this season.

"It's been crazy, a rollercoaster ride, but we didn't get down with a couple of losses and we won't get high with a couple of wins, so I think the key thing is to remain level headed, but definitely a happier locker room.

"Some of the guys were struggling for a little bit and I think they've found their game again, which makes them happy and in turn makes everyone else happy - confidence was huge there. It was a good taste to see what this team can bring to the table offensively."

Baun and Patrick Dwyer continued their strong starts to the season with ten points between them over the two games, while head coach Keefe would have undoubtedly been delighted to see five different players find the twine in Friday's win.

Even more impressive was the hat-trick scored by winger Darcy Murphy in Saturday's shutout, the former Colgate star getting off the mark in the league this season with his treble.

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Darcy Murphy celebrates his hat-trick goal

Darcy Murphy celebrates his hat-trick goal

©William Cherry / Presseye

Darcy Murphy celebrates his hat-trick goal

 

"It sounds funny but every time you get in a slump, the pressure mounts around myself and the team, so I was happy to see the guys smiling and feeling good about their game tonight and hopefully we build on that," said Keefe.

"That was an important two games for us mentally and in the league standings first and foremost, it was good to put some points on the board to start climbing from the bottom.

"We're under no illusions, Milton Keynes are struggling right now through injuries but I was much happier with tonight's performance than last night's and I think it was a step in the right direction. It was a complete 60 tonight, bar some mistakes here and there, but I was happy with the effort shown tonight."

Having started the weekend bottom, the Giants have now jumped up to fifth and have a chance to make it a rare six-point weekend as they travel to the Skydome this evening to take on the Coventry Blaze (face-off 5:15pm).

The Blaze have started the season well, backed by the arrival of former NHL netminder Miroslav Kopriva - who has started the season strongly (.922 SAV in his first two games) - and a deep forward corps that has shared scoring across the lines.

Despite being shutout by the league-leading Nottingham Panthers last night, the Blaze sit at 3-1-1 to start the campaign and sit one spot above Belfast in the table, and will provide a stern test to finish the weekend for the Giants.

"The biggest thing is getting everyone involved," is the verdict of Baun on tonight's game. "We've been able to roll the lines a bit over the last two games which takes the brunt of the load off the top lines, which will be extremely beneficial, so if we can get everyone involved again (today) then that'll be helpful.

"And I think just playing simple hockey, which is what we've been trying to do this weekend and so far it's worked.

"We were trying to force stuff early on and that was leading to turnovers, and guys were getting frustrated and it was a bit of a snowball effect, so we put a bit of an emphasis on it and we put out four key points that we really wanted to focus on as a team, and we figure if we can trust that process then we should be successful."

Belfast Telegraph