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Keefe wants his Belfast Giants to maintain their focus


By Stuart McKinley

Adam Keefe won't allow his Belfast Giants players to use this weekend's Challenge Cup ties as warm-up to the massive double-header against the Sheffield Steelers in a week's time.

Instead the Giants coach wants to ensure that his players are in tune to face the Steelers by getting into the habit of playing 'the right way.'

The Giants have yet to hit any real rhythm with just three competitive games played this season and that's why Keefe is placing major importance on tonight's home clash with the Dundee Stars and tomorrow's trip to the Edinburgh Capitals.

"It doesn't matter if it's the league, the Challenge Cup or play-offs, it's all about how we approach it and the way I want to approach it is that it's another game and we want to play the right way," said Keefe.

"There is a bigger picture and it is no different who we are playing or what competition.

"We have to prepare and we have to try to play the right way by everyone being on the same page."

Keefe is still trying to put his stamp on the team in his first season as coach and it is a process that is impossible to have completed by mid-September.

"It's about everyone being on the same page, playing to the same system and buying into what we're trying to do - as well as making the right decisions at the right times and if we do that we'll be a better team and one that is tough to compete with," said Keefe.

The Giants suffered a heartbreaking penalties defeat in Dundee two weeks ago.

Leading 2-1 with just 26 seconds remaining, they were pegged back before losing the shoot-out.

Since then they have scored half a dozen in beating the Guildford Flames 6-4, but then conceded six in Milton Keynes, when only able to score three in reply.

Keefe is happy with the goal return from his team, but knows that defensively they must be better as they won't be able to outscore opponents every night.

"We need to nail it down defensively and help our goalies more than we have been doing," said Keefe.

"Teams have had their share of quality chances in front of them, but we will get better and a lot of that is down me as a first year coach trying to get my message across to players.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how we respond this weekend, because good teams respond and correct their mistakes."

Keefe will have Jim Vandermeer in his line up after the veteran ex-NHL defenceman escaped a suspension following a checking from behind offence against Guildford.

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