Belfast Telegraph

Giants will be prize guys, says Ferland

 

Jonathan Ferland
Jonathan Ferland
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

When it comes to competing for championships, veteran winger Jonathan Ferland knows what he's talking about.

A Calder Cup winner with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2007, an EBEL champion with the Vienna Capitals back in 2017 and a Challenge Cup winner with the Giants last year, the Canadian has experience with silverware.

So when he says that this Belfast Giants team has what it takes to bring home a trophy this season, you know he means it.

"We have that character in the room, it's always about the group," insists the 35-year-old.

"You can have the talent but if you don't have the group, the friendships, the people to go with it, then it's impossible to do it.

"I can tell you for sure, we have what it takes in that room right now, but that's one step. The next step is we have to go out and play, and you have to want it more than the other group.

"I believe we have everything we need, now we have to keep moving forward and build our way towards playing for championships."

The Quebec native is speaking after the Giants' gut-wrenching penalty shots loss to Arlan Kokshetau in the final of the Continental Cup last week, and the scars are still raw.

The Giants were a post away from securing their first trophy of 2018 - Patrick Dwyer ringing the pipes in the shootout - and instead had to watch as the Kazakhs lifted the title instead.

But Ferland doesn't despair because he thinks that setback will only spur them on to future success, as ironic as it sounds.

"We've had a chance to refocus and we've had a week to prepare for another big weekend," he says.

"We knew when the Continental Cup was over, the season wasn't, and the emotions were high because we played hard and we gave ourselves a chance to win it, but we didn't.

"At the end of the day we have to go back to work and keep making ground on Cardiff. We were close to winning a championship together, now we want to go and make sure we do everything we can to get one."

They can take a huge step towards that goal this weekend when they face a massive double-header against Elite League title rivals the Cardiff Devils at the Viola Arena.

The gap between the Devils at the top and the Giants in second currently sits at five points, but Belfast have a game in hand and two wins this weekend would reduce that gap back down to one.

History favours the visitors too, with the Giants winning both games so far this season, including an 8-1 thrashing the last time they met in Cardiff.

And Ferland wants his team to relish the big challenge awaiting them this weekend as they try to channel the energy and passion from last weekend into two massive efforts in Wales.

"We have a chance to bring that energy into two games against a great hockey team, they've been playing very well for almost two months and have been solid for a few years now," says Ferland.

"But we have that feeling in our locker room that we can beat any team on any night and we know we can beat them and make ground on them.

"We have to love the challenge and enjoy it too, because it's a big game, it's a big weekend and it'll be a lot of fun to play in."

With the two sides still to meet for another double-header at the SSE Arena late next month, this weekend's clashes aren't must-wins in the context of the title race, and a win apiece would probably do for the Giants.

But thinking that way doesn't even cross Ferland's mind.

"You don't play games to split them," he says. "We always play to win."

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