Belfast Telegraph

Giants face test of Steel

Belfast Giants 6-0 Dundee Stars

By Stuart McKinley

James Desmarais' thoughts have immediately turned to a massive double header, away to Sheffield Steelers next Saturday and Sunday, after enjoying a five-star weekend.

The Belfast Giants forward netted a hat-trick in a 5-4 win over Nottingham Panthers on Friday night and then struck two more as the Dundee Stars were beaten 6-0 on Saturday.

Mike Forney, Steve Saviano, Chris Higgins and Jonathan Boxill were also on target against Dundee, while Stephen Murphy registered another shut-out to add to his record tally for the Giants.

Those two wins means the Giants have taken at least a point from all but two of their last 19 games and they will go to Sheffield hoping to not only get closer to Cardiff Devils at the top of the Elite League, but put some distance between themselves and the third-placed Steelers.

"It was important for us to have a big weekend," said Desmarais. "All the points are important at this stage of the season, everything is so close at the top so we've got to keep winning.

"It was a good performance by the whole team. We played really well, I was able to get a bit of 'puck luck' and get some goals, that was nice too, but I think everyone is playing really well."

The Giants have lost 5-1 on each of their two previous trips to Sheffield this season, but they are a very different looking team than two months ago.

Confidence is high and there is also the fact that the Giants have since won twice against the Steelers in Belfast - albeit Sheffield did get some revenge in the most recent meeting a fortnight ago, winning 4-1.

That's why the weekend double header will be so tough to call and Desmarais is ready to step up to the mark as he knows the importance of winning at this stage of the season.

"Every point right now is so big for us, especially against the teams at the top. Sheffield have a great team and we know they are going to be in the running right until the end so the points over there are really important for us," said Desmarais. "We know how important every weekend is, especially against teams like that so we're going to be prepared.

"We have to build off this weekend, we had two really good starts at home in back-to-back games. On Friday we let up a bit in the third. And let them come back into it

Against Dundee we were actually able to play a full game, 60 minutes of just going at them in waves.

"I think that's the way we've got to play and if we were able to do that over there I think we will be successful.

"We've got to go in there, play a simple game, follow our game plan, work hard and put pressure on them and see what happens."

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