Giants need to click up the gears: Keefe
Belfast Giants 1 Coventry Blaze 4
Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe has called on his side to step up their efforts after another frustrating weekend saw them split their double-header with the Coventry Blaze at the SSE Arena.
On Saturday, the Giants were excellent in dominating a comfortable 4-1 win over the Blaze, only to succumb to a reverse of the same scoreline a day later as they failed to make the most of their chances.
Keefe's side were the benefactors of a massively lopsided 44-18 shot count in yesterday's game, however their only goal came from Ben Lake on the powerplay. At the other end, Coventry were lethal.
Centre Andrew Johnston bagged a double, while Luke Ferrara and Matt Pohlkamp also got on the scoresheet as the Giants fell to 19-11-2 on the season.
They are now seven points off Elite League leaders the Sheffield Steelers.
The most frustrating thing for the Giants, however, was their inability to back up Saturday's strong display with another one yesterday, and that left Keefe seeking answers from within the changing room.
"I'd say it's very accurate in terms of the consistency," he said when asked if the weekend was perhaps a reflection on the season as a whole.
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"It also shows how good the league has become this year. I think you see everyone winning a few then dropping one then winning a few, and we're trying to break out of that spin cycle. Win two, lose one; that's not good enough to win the league.
"This group has to discover if they're happy to be in the middle of the pack or whether they want to be in the mix for first place. The only way to do that is to be consistent individually and then as a group. It's got to start with individuals.
"We have guys who are different players night to night. That's just a fact."
Ferrara had put the Blaze into the lead at 3:07 of the first period on the powerplay, with Johnston grabbing his first at 5:44 to make it 2-0. Lake's powerplay marker at 14:55 made it 2-1 at the first intermission.
But despite dominating zone time, puck possession and the shot count, the Giants couldn't beat CJ Motte - who made 43 saves in the Blaze goal - and at the other end Johnston (32:45) and Pohlkamp (35:56) made the result secure before the second intermission.
The belief within the Giants' changing room is still strong that if they can put together a string of results then things will come good, and they've been helped by the inconsistency throughout the league that they're still in with a shot at defending their title.
Beating the Steelers when the leaders come to the SSE Arena on Friday for what is increasingly looking like a must-win tie would be a good way to start.
"We've proved we can play with anybody if we're at our best. The title race needs to excite you to put together a nice run, not go out and lose one yourself," added Keefe. "We need to get that sorted, or we're going to constantly be chasing whoever is above us. If we can find some consistency and some form, then we'll be in the fight."