Historic Grand Slam would be so special: Leonard
Belfast Giants defenceman Curtis Leonard insists that the dream of completing a Grand Slam of trophies this season is all the team need to stay focused heading into the Elite League play-offs this weekend.
The Giants, who last week won the Elite League title to go with the Challenge Cup and Erhardt Conference trophies they had already lifted, face the Coventry Blaze in a two-legged quarter-final for a place at Finals Weekend in Nottingham next weekend.
The two sides meet in Belfast tonight (face-off 7pm) in the first leg before the return in Coventry tomorrow (6pm).
Adam Keefe's men are aiming to become the first side in Elite League history to win all four trophies in one season and Leonard believes they won't be lacking in motivation.
"It's a special thing because nobody has ever won the Grand Slam before, so if we could have that accomplishment then we'd be delighted and I know our fans would be happy too," said the 25-year-old Canadian.
"I don't think it'd set in until the summer if it actually happened. It'd be a really special thing, not just for us but for the whole organisation."
Ironically, the Giants will have to overcome the side that effectively handed them the league title last Sunday in the Blaze, whose win over the Cardiff Devils ensured the Giants ended the season top of the standings.
Coventry defeated the Devils 3-1 at the SkyDome to deny the Welsh side a third consecutive title, at the same time setting up the quarter-final with the Giants.
"We'll maybe have a quick laugh and then it's business right away," said Leonard.
"We want to win. We're appreciative that they came out and competed even though they'd clinched their spot, but they're a team with a lot of pride."
The Giants won all six league meetings between the two sides during the regular season, including a 7-2 hammering at the SkyDome only a week ago.
However, Coventry's win over Cardiff proves they are a dangerous team.
"We're going to take care of business - they're a good team, they've competed against us well all year so it won't be a cake walk," warned the Ontario man.
"We have a good leadership core, experienced guys that have played lots of hockey and seen things like this before, so we realise this is a 120-minute game. We need to compete for both legs and if we do that then we know we can win.
"We want to be there at that final four in Nottingham, and I've heard nothing but good things about that weekend. I really want to get there and everybody else does too."