Belfast Telegraph

Keefe urges Giants to move on from near collapse

 

Looking ahead: Adam Keefe
Looking ahead: Adam Keefe
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Despite finally breaking their losing streak on the road with a 6-5 shoot-out win at the Manchester Storm on Saturday, and recording their first four-point weekend of the campaign, the Belfast Giants won't be pleased by the way in which it happened.

Leading 5-1 after 5:57 of the second period in Altrincham, forcing Manchester netminder Matt Ginn out of the game and seemingly cruising to their first away win of the season, the Giants contrived to throw away the lead in the remaining 35 minutes and were forced to win on the extra shots, ending an eight-game winless streak outside of Belfast to start the campaign.

Adam Keefe's men let their opponents back into it with two powerplay goals before the second intermission, with Cameron Critchlow and Dallas Ehrhardt's third-period goals tying it 5-5 and sending it to overtime for the third time in four meetings between these two sides.

Having lost the first two overtime clashes, on this occasion it was the Giants who prevailed, with Curtis Hamilton - who scored a hat-trick in regulation time - grabbing the winner in the shoot-out, Ben Lake and Jordan Smotherman also finding the twine.

The win sees the Giants improve to 5-1-2 in the Elite League, taking them into fifth in the standings with several games in hand over the teams around them, while forward Hamilton will be delighted to end an eight-match scoring drought.

However, the fact that they surrendered a four-goal lead halfway through the game and needed overtime and a shoot-out to take the two points equates to another concerning away performance for the Giants.

"I thought we were in control of the game for the most part, especially in the first 30 minutes, and then Manchester completely took over for the last 30 minutes," said head coach Keefe.

"We ran into some penalty trouble which put us into a scramble we never really recovered from. But I'm certainly happy with the two points. A four-point weekend for us is great.

"I would have liked it to have come on better terms and to have seen it out in a better way, but we'll take the four points."

The Giants are back on the road on Wednesday night in the first of FreeSports' live offerings this season when they travel to the Fife Flyers (face-off 7.30pm) looking to make it four wins on the spin and back-to-back victories away from home.

The Giants have already been beaten once by the Flyers in Kirkcaldy this season, a 5-2 loss in the Challenge Cup, and head coach Keefe is urging his side not to dwell too long on Saturday's near capitulation in Manchester.

"We'll take a lot from the first 30 minutes and we'll learn a lot from the last 30 minutes. We'll put this game behind us, take the points and focus on Fife Flyers now," added Keefe, who may be able to welcome back d-man Patrick Mullen for Wednesday.

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