Belfast Telegraph

Keefe anxious for Giants to solve defensive issues

Final hurrah: Giants forward Hunter Bishop has retired
Final hurrah: Giants forward Hunter Bishop has retired
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Long after the players had departed for the second intermission of Saturday's game against the Coventry Blaze, Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe still stood on the bench furiously scribbling notes.

He'd just watched his side blow a four-goal lead, which they'd overturn to win 6-5, and they went on to complete a four-point weekend with an 8-5 victory over the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday.

However, it was the defensive frailties that had him more concerned than pleased come the end of a weekend that saw them cut the gap to the Cardiff Devils at the top of the Elite League table to three points.

The Giants have now conceded 27 goals in their last eight games, a far cry from the resolute performances they were putting in at the start of the season.

"Everything," was Keefe's response when asked what his side needed to do to get back on track defensively. "I can only hope we're fatigued and making mistakes as a result of it. We've still got a way to go here and we have to find another level because we'll need another level to win Championships. I do think it's in that locker room and we'll get back on track defensively."

Injured defenceman Guillaume Gelinas is set to rejoin the team soon to shore up the blueline and complement the Giants' sparkling recent offence, which has seen them snap out of a small skid and pocket 32 goals in their last six.

But the worrying trend in defence has left Keefe admitting that there is perhaps a lack of security within his rearguard.

"Confidence comes from hard work and right now we lack a bit of confidence," he confessed.

"We have to get back to working hard and doing simple things.

"That's a quality hockey side in that room there, with a lot of quality players, and if we work hard and do the right things then we'll start clicking again."

Meanwhile, Giants winger Hunter Bishop has announced his retirement and will return to the States to take up the head coach/GM role with USPHL Elite side the Charleston Colonials.

The 31-year-old skated in 44 games for the Giants this season, scoring five goals and adding 29 points, and won a silver medal in the Continental Cup.

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