Belfast Giants winger JJ Piccinich admits that pride nearly cost the team in their Play-Off quarter-final against the Coventry Blaze, but has vowed they won’t make the same mistake in this weekend’s semi-final.
The top-seeded Giants were off-colour in both legs against the lowest-seeded Blaze and were fortunate to progress in the lottery that is the shoot-out after a 3-3 aggregate draw.
They were very close to being eliminated, however, with Scott Conway’s sudden-death goal sparing their blushes after Janne Kivilahti had scored for the Blaze, which allowed Piccinich to win it in the 10th round.
Having survived that almighty scare to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive going into Play-Off Finals Weekend in Nottingham, the American insists they won’t dwell on it and will be much better for Saturday’s semi-final against the Dundee Stars.
“We were expecting what the Coventry Blaze have been to us all year,” he explained. "We’ve been finding ways to beat them all year and we thought they were going to lay out and die for us, but it was the opposite.
“They had all their eggs in one basket, they needed to win this series to advance and we maybe came out with a bit too much pride. We just came out slow, we were careless with the puck and I’ll throw myself into that conversation. Some careless plays up and down our roster.
“We’re going to move on. It’s over. When we walked out of the building on Sunday night, it was over. Now we get on and we enjoy this work week.”
How easy that will be is up for debate, but Piccinich insists they will be able to refocus and ensure they end the season on a high by completing the clean sweep.
“It’ll be easier than you think,” he added. “We’re a tight knit group here so I’m sure the banter will get flowing shortly.
“We got the win, it wasn’t pretty but onto the next. One more to go. It doesn’t feel right if we don’t get this last one.”