Belfast Telegraph

Giants must power on in league and cup: Keefe

 

By Stuart McKinley

Adam Keefe won't change his approach as the Belfast Giants prepare to play in two competitions within the space of 24 hours.

The coach is only concerned about winning in tonight's Challenge Cup quarter-final clash against the Fife Flyers and it will be exactly the same in tomorrow's Elite League battle with the Nottingham Panthers.

The Giants' position as league leaders will be under threat while they are in cup action this evening - although Keefe isn't worried about things that are outside of his control.

All he is interested in is taking a step towards the last four of the Challenge Cup and he will be looking at it only as a one-off battle.

"We want to make sure that we have a strong defence against Fife, but that is how I want to approach every weekend," said Keefe.

"I want us to go in there and win the game and then we'll worry about the second leg when the time comes. To me this is a 60-minute game and we want to win.

"Of course, we understand the scenario and the aggregate goals system - even though it's quite new to some of our guys - but when you break it down the simple facts are that if we win both games the scoreline looks after itself and we go through to the next stage."

The Giants went to the top of the table after a fourth win of the season against the Sheffield Steelers, but that is in sharp contrast to their record against the Panthers.

There have been two defeats - 5-4 and 6-3 - in Nottingham and a 5-4 overtime loss in Belfast a month ago.

That is something that Keefe knows must change - and quickly - if his team are to remain the leading contenders for the Elite League title.

"Nottingham are the one team in our conference that have eluded us so far," said Keefe.

"Our guys know that if you keep losing to a team in the head-to-heads then it usually means that you end up behind them in the standings, so it's something that we have to start turning around.

"We need to have the same kind of weekend as we did last weekend. We need a full 60 minutes on Saturday and another full 60 minutes on Sunday."

The Giants will have Spiro Goulakos back from suspension tomorrow night and while Ashley Tait's temporary deal with the club only covered last weekend there is still a possibility that he could pull on a teal jersey again, but that won't happen in Fife tonight, even though Mark Garside and John Kurtz remain out.

The players that have been on the ice have shown great character in the first six games of their 10-game road stretch - which has resulted in being top of the table - and Keefe wants the focus to remain on keeping that going rather than the festivities that might be surrounding his players.

"It is easy to let distractions get in your way and have the focus taken off the task in hand, but I don't think the players have allowed that to happen to them," said Keefe.

"Everyone is busy at this time of year - whether guys are doing things here or getting presents to send home - but I think the results we have had show how focused our guys are."

Belfast Telegraph

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