Keefe says Giants can sustain challenge for silverware after barren spell
Adam Keefe is determined that the Belfast Giants will be a force to be reckoned with as they try to end a two-season trophy famine.
The Giants captain, however, is expecting more teams than ever to be fighting for silverware this season, which gets under way for Derrick Walser's men with a Challenge Cup trip to the Fife Flyers tonight.
After storming to Elite League glory in 2014, when they won the title in record time, they have struggled to sustain a challenge, finishing fifth in 2015 and fourth last season.
The arrivals of forward trio Steve Saviano, Blair Riley and Alex Foster, along with experienced defenceman Ryan Martinelli, have refreshed a squad that Walser already felt had trophy-winning quality and Keefe is hungry to be raising silverware again.
"We know we're going to be competitive and we're going to be one of those teams that's in the fight and that's all you can ask for," said Keefe, who is back in Belfast for his fifth season.
"The rest is up to the coaching staff, and the leadership group, to get the collective buy-in that will pay dividends down the stretch and keep the team on the straight and narrow. That's what it comes down to over the course of a season."
Defending champions the Sheffield Steelers are always fancied to be in the mix and the Cardiff Devils, who were just two points short last season, have strengthened with the intention of closing the gap this time around.
After finishing second and third in the last two seasons Braehead Clan have their sights set on another serious challenge and while the Nottingham Panthers' 2013 Elite League win was their first since the 1950s they are always in the mix.
"There is going to be five or six other teams this season that are extremely competitive and are going to be there throughout the entire season as well," Keefe said.
"We're looking forward to another tight season right from the top to the bottom. Anyone can win on any given night so you've always got to be on your toes.
"That's where staying consistent comes in to it. That's what every team will be looking to do over the course of the year."
With just one Elite League contest mixed into a month of Challenge Cup group games, the Giants' quest for the main prize doesn't begin in earnest until October, but the next few weeks won't be just used as warm-up.