Belfast Telegraph

Giants can compete with continent's finest: Pelech

 

Positive experience: Belfast Giants captain Matt Pelech
Positive experience: Belfast Giants captain Matt Pelech
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Belfast Giants captain Matt Pelech believes their Champions League campaign has proven that they can play with Europe's big boys - and now they need to translate that into results in the Elite League.

Despite finishing bottom of Group C with four points, the Giants did get a win over Czech side Bili Tygri Liberec, while they also took the Augsburger Panther to overtime in Belfast and ran them close in Germany.

Their European adventure ended on Tuesday night with a 4-0 defeat in Sweden against Lulea, but Pelech has challenged his team-mates to carry their compete level into domestic affairs.

"When we've shown we're on our game, we can play with some really good competition in Europe. That's something to be proud of," says Pelech.

"Obviously we didn't get the results we wanted but this is a tough tournament - the travel is difficult, the teams are hard.

"We can play. We went into Augsburg and played great. We beat Liberec at home. (Tuesday night) wasn't great but we played (Lulea) harder at the SSE.

"When we're rolling, we can hang in there with competition that's maybe a little bit above our league. So we need to bring that back into our domestic games.

"We need to play simpler like we play these teams because that's when we're good. We know we have the ability to be a really good team."

With only the Elite League champions qualifying for the tournament, there's no guarantee the Giants will be back in next season to contest it again, but head coach Adam Keefe is determined they will be.

"I thought it was pretty exciting, pretty cool. It's something we can learn from. Organisationally, on the ice, the tempo of pace we need to play at," said Keefe.

"There's a lot of things we can take from this tournament. It's certainly something we want to strive to get back to in future."

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