Giants stand tall to avenge Steelers loss
Adam Keefe was convinced that his Belfast Giants team was in the mood execute a revenge mission on the Sheffield Steelers even before they took to the ice for round two of their weekend double-header.
In fact, it was as his players entered the locker room two hours before face off on Saturday night that Keefe knew they were determined to avenge Friday night's 3-2 defeat.
Even without Spiro Goulakos and Sebastien Sylvestre, who were suspended for part two after misdemeanours during Friday's ill-tempered contest - as was Sheffield's Zack Fitzgerald - the Giants were much too strong for the Steelers, with strong performance and a convincing 5-1 win.
"I wasn't surprised. After the first drop of the puck the guys showed up," said Keefe.
"I saw the guys before the game and you could just tell, there was something in the air.
"There was a real focus to them and even when I was speaking to them before the game I could see the whites of their eyes and they were really focused on the task in hand.
"They dialled in and were ready to go.
"I said to Rob Stewart before the game 'I think the guys are really coming tonight' and I wasn't surprised when they did."
The Giants were helped by a seven-minute powerplay in the first period after Andreas Jamtin pinned David Rutherford to the ice. They took full advantage as Colin Shields and Rutherford scored within 21 seconds of each other.
That was quickly followed by a third goal from Jonathan Ferland - all three coming in the space of just over three minutes.
Rutherford netted his second midway through the second period and although Ben O'Connor got one back for the Steelers on a third-period powerplay Shields - who scored his 600th point in Giants colours when he assisted on Ferland's goal - netted his second and his team's fifth 66 seconds before the end.
For Keefe, who had been critical of his team's powerplay on Friday night, but also took responsibility for the failings, it was taking advantage of opposition penalties that pleased him the most.
"Obviously the seven-minute powerplay helped us out, gets us off to a great start, but if you don't score any goals in that seven-minute powerplay, as we saw the night before, it can be a real downward spiral from there," he said.
"I was happy that the powerplay stepped up, was big, guys showed up and kept it simple, got pucks to the net and found them and buried them. That was the difference."