Giants won't let bad blood get in way of glory bid, says Keefe
Adam Keefe doesn't want an incident that took place more than two months ago to knock his Belfast Giants team's focus ahead of what could be a pivotal weekend in the Elite League title race.
Giants defenceman Spiro Goulakos was the victim of an ugly hit by Sheffield Steelers forward Colton Fretter in late October - an offence which landed him a six-match suspension - and they will come up against each other for the first time since then when the teams lock horns in a huge double-header at the SSE Arena tonight and tomorrow.
Fretter expressed his anger at the ban and an earlier collision between the Steeler and Goulakos that saw the Giants player suspended for two games.
The suspension meant little as Goulakos missed a number of games due to a concussion he suffered in the hit by Fretter - including one against the Steelers - and Keefe hopes the passage of time will mean his players have their minds on cutting the Cardiff Devils' six-point lead at the top rather than seeking retribution.
"I've been in these positions myself before. You never really know what way things will go until guys come up against each other," said Keefe.
"Sometimes time is a healer and guys just get on with things and play the game - sometimes it isn't.
"Knowing Spiro I don't think that is what his focus will be on. There are two important games ahead, we need to perform well if we are going to win them and that is what our focus will be on."
The players will have an extra set of eyes on them this weekend as the league's new two-man refereeing system, as well as two linesmen, comes into play.
It will be the first time that the Belfast fans will have seen this and Keefe expects some adjustments to have to be made in the early days.
"The league has adopted the four-man system and I think it's a positive move," said Keefe.
"It's the first time for us at home and we will have to get used to it. It might help us or it might hinder us, but one thing's for sure, we will have to be a lot more disciplined."
The Giants have won all four meetings with the Steelers this season - including three victories in Sheffield - and are two points better off.
"It won't be easy for us and I just want us to try to be the best Belfast Giants team that we can be and if our focus is in the right place then I think we'll be alright," added Keefe.