Keefe praises his Giants players after Devils demolition job
Delighted Belfast Giants head coach Adam Keefe claims his side "brought the best version of themselves" in their 8-1 blowout win over title rivals the Cardiff Devils on Sunday.
In what was supposed to be their biggest test of the season so far at Ice Arena Wales, the clinical and ruthless Giants seared past their hosts, the defending league champions, and then refused to let up in a stunning third period.
Netminder Tyler Beskorowany continued his sensational form between the pipes by turning away 25 of the 26 shots he faced, conceding one goal on the weekend after keeping his first full-game shutout for Belfast a night before in a 4-0 whitewash against the Nottingham Panthers, making it another four-point weekend for the Giants.
But winger Kyle Baun was the star man in Cardiff with a five-point four-goal performance, with four goals on the powerplay setting the platform before Belfast sent out a real message to the rest of the league by netting three more times in the final period for an emphatic scoreline.
It means the Giants' incredible streak continues, putting them four points clear at the top of the Elite League table having won their last seven consecutive games and 16 from their last 18 in all competitions.
And Keefe was overjoyed at how his team refused to settle in the third period and instead kept pushing for more as the game went on.
"I'm very happy," said the Canadian head coach. "I thought from start to finish the guys were clinical tonight, even though we went into the third period with the lead.
"Sometimes you look down your bench and you think some guys might take their foot off the gas, and that can hurt you, a team like Cardiff can come back and bite you, but we wanted to make sure we kept playing and we kept playing the right way, and we took care of ourselves first.
"I challenged the guys to be the best version of themselves and I thought that, to a man, everyone showed up and got the job done tonight. I'm real happy with that."
On the opposite side, Devils head coach Andrew Lord was complimentary of the Giants' special teams and how they led them to victory, but was also scathing in his assessment of his own side.
"It was brutal. Not acceptable. Not to our standards," blasted an angry Lord.
"The first two goals just handed it to them. The first one was a little unlucky with the fall, but for the second the stick detail was atrocious.
"The other huge factor was special teams where we had a lot of powerplays in the first period but their (penalty kill) was great, and at the same time we weren't ready and didn't execute.
"The penalty trouble, you can't take five or six penalties against a team like that, their powerplay goals put us in a huge hole, and then a couple early in the third finished us off."
Belfast now take a break from Elite League action as they turn their attentions to European competition and this week's Continental Cup semi-final group stage.
Keefe and his men - who qualified for the tournament by winning the Challenge Cup last season - welcome former Giants forward Sebastien Sylvestre and his Medvescak Zagreb team-mates to the SSE Arena, as well as Polish side GKS Katowice and Italian outfit Ritten Sport.
The three-day event, which runs from Thursday to Saturday, will see each team play the others once, with the top two sides progressing to the final stage in January.