Keefe piles the praise on Giants rearguard after pre-season joy
Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe made a case for his defence after his side opened the new season with back-to-back exhibition wins over Swedish outfit Mora IK.
Beating the Allsvenskan side was a real early statement from the Giants - even if it is pre-season - but what would have pleased the coach more is not the wins themselves, but the manner in which they came.
Against a team that would be considered a lot faster and more skilful, who were already a month into their pre-season preparations already, the Giants went toe-to-toe with them and matched them in every aspect.
After the games, Keefe was quick to praise his team's rearguard, including new netminder Shane Owen, for limiting the Swedes to just two goals across six periods of action over the weekend.
Having boasted the Elite League's stingiest defence last season, the Giants improved it in the off-season by adding the experience of veterans Patrick Mullen and Matt Pelech and the physical style of Jesse Forsberg to the returning trio of Curtis Leonard, Kevin Raine and GB international Paul Swindlehurst.
"If I want to pull out something in particular, I think our defence was great," praised a delighted Keefe.
"They shut down Mora through the neutral zone and when you see that as a coach, it gives you a lot of confidence.
"Even when they did break through, Shane was there for us and that's something we saw the last few years against Fife. It was nice to see him get that first win under his belt."
While praising his entire roster for their first wins of the season, Keefe also mentioned the impact of electric winger Patryk Wronka, who showcased some stunning hands and the lightning quick pace he promised after joining from Polish side GKS Katowice over the summer.
"It was nice to see Patryk do exactly what he did to us last season against a fast-skating team like Mora," added Keefe.