Belfast Telegraph

Keefe demands that Giants find a cure for their travel sickness

Deep frustration: Adam Keefe wants to win on the road
Deep frustration: Adam Keefe wants to win on the road
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Having seen his Belfast Giants lose their fourth straight away game to start the season, head coach Adam Keefe believes his team need to learn how to pick up points on their travels.

Despite beating the Fife Flyers 7-2 at the SSE Arena on Saturday night, the Giants lost 5-2 to the same opponents at the Fife Ice Arena a day later, leaving their hopes of reaching the Challenge Cup knockouts in the balance.

If the Giants are to stand any chance of reaching the quarter-finals, they'll need to gain at least one point from their final two group games, which are both away at the Dundee Stars and the red-hot Glasgow Clan.

It will be a tough task given the Giants' away struggles, having lost twice in the Champions League to Bili Tygri Liberec and the Augsburger Panther, as well as in the Elite League to the Manchester Storm in overtime.

Sunday's defeat in Fife was the latest in their troubling performances on the road and Keefe admits he is concerned by the side's form away from Belfast.

"We've got to learn how to play on the road, it's that simple. No excuses. We need to start winning on the road because we haven't done that yet," said the frustrated head coach.

"That's the challenge for the players. We have to show up in these rinks and play like it doesn't matter where you are. It's just a hockey game.

"If we want to win anything this year, we have to learn how to win on the road."

The Giants weren't helped by the fact they took nine penalties during the game against Fife, with two of the Flyers' goals coming on avoidable calls.

Jonas Emmerdahl opened the scoring when Curtis Leonard took consecutive cross-checking calls to force the Giants onto a four-minute kill, while Kyle Just scored the Scots' second when Ben Lake took a tripping minor with the Giants already killing off a too many men call.

While the Giants' penalty kill early in the season has been exceptional, on Sunday it caught up to them, and Keefe admits their discipline needs addressed.

"You can't take penalties and stay composed, especially on the road, so you need to stay disciplined," added the Canadian.

"Penalties are always a problem when you take that many. This team has proven it can be disciplined, we just need to get a grasp of it again.

"More so than the powerplay goals we conceded, it's the energy that's sucked out of the bench and the guys that are killing the penalties for us. It has to stop."

In that regard, it's maybe good that the Giants' next game is against one of the best powerplay sides in the Elite League in the Guildford Flames on Friday.

The Flames come to the SSE Arena headlined by Calle Ackered, the league's best powerplay d-man, and they'll be forced to tighten up to keep him quiet.

"We've got a tough week of practice ahead of a fast Guildford team coming in," acknowledged Keefe. "We know one thing about Guildford, they're very good on the powerplay, so we can't be that indisciplined on Friday."

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