Belfast Telegraph

Giants must wing it and take a leaf out of Pat Dwyer's book: Adam Keefe

 

Ice cool: Giants winger Patrick Dwyer celebrates downing the Sheffield Steelers
Ice cool: Giants winger Patrick Dwyer celebrates downing the Sheffield Steelers
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe has called on his team's big players to follow the example of Patrick Dwyer during their double-header with the Sheffield Steelers last weekend.

Back-to-back wins saw the Giants take all four points from the meetings with their bitter rivals at the SSE Arena and keep pace with the Cardiff Devils at the top of the Elite League table.

It was winger Dwyer who was key on both nights against Sheffield, the former NHL star grabbing the game-winner in overtime on Saturday night before scoring a hat-trick in Sunday's come-from-behind 4-3 victory.

And Keefe has challenged the rest of the team to maintain their high standards as they continue to battle on three fronts in the league, Challenge Cup and heading into this weekend's Continental Cup final.

"It wasn't our most clinical performance, that's for sure, but I thought we were pretty good," said Keefe after Sunday's victory.

"I told the players that in order to win titles you need to find ways to see these games out, and they did that.

"We had some key guys step up and put us on their back which was important, Paddy Dwyer had a big night for us and that's huge, we need that from our players.

"We need guys to step up and realise where we are in the league, and in close games like this we need guys to keep going, find ways to contribute and I thought we did that."

The league will be put on the backburner for a week as the Giants prepare for their return to European action this weekend in the Continental Cup final.

They'll be joined for the three-day tournament in Belfast by Belarusian side HK Gomel, Kazakh outfit Arlan Kokshetau and familiar opponents in Polish league leaders GKS Katowice, who they faced in the semi-final.

The Giants are aiming to become the second British winners of the tournament after the Nottingham Panthers in 2017 and Keefe knows it will be a massive test for his side.

"First I've got to try and find some game tape on the Belarusian team, that should be easy!" he laughed.

"The other teams will be very opportunistic on turnovers, their transition game will be fast and they'll all be skilful, so we don't want to play into their hands.

"We want to possess pucks in the offensive zone and put pressure on them - that's the identity of this team and when we do it then we create chances and don't have to force things."

Keefe also confirmed that Chris Higgins will make his first appearance of the season in the Continental Cup after rejoining the team over Christmas, although he's not sure where the forward will slot in yet.

"We'll have some good, hard practices, get the flow back and then see where Chris Higgins will fit in," said Keefe. "We'll try and build some familiarity between him and his line-mates."

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