Belfast Telegraph

Keefe wields the axe as Belfast Giants make changes in bid to revitalise roster

 

New Belfast Giants centre David Goodwin in his SaiPa days
New Belfast Giants centre David Goodwin in his SaiPa days
Adam Keefe
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

The axe has well and truly been wielded at the SSE Arena in the wake of the Belfast Giants' recent run of results, to the tune of one man in and two men out.

In comes American centre David Goodwin, who joins from Swedish Allsvenskan side Mora IK, and out go defenceman Jesse Forsberg and centre Jean Dupuy as head coach Adam Keefe (below) goes for a roster shake-up to try and turn things around at the misfiring Giants.

It's not hard to argue that it was a necessary move for Keefe to make given the Giants are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, which is incredibly their second such run already this season - with the last extending to six - and struggling for consistent firepower in front of goal.

Over the last two weeks, the Giants have fallen out of a tie for first place in the Elite League and now sit five points behind leaders the Glasgow Clan, while their goalscoring has been a problem all season and has been exacerbated in recent weeks.

The numbers don't lie. Keefe has seen his side score just six times in their last four games - half of which came in Sunday's latest defeat against the Coventry Blaze at the SkyDome - and on the season as a whole they are scoring just 3.07 goals per match on average.

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Glory trail: Belfast Giants centre Jean Dupuy

That has forced the coach's hand. After the home defeat to the Dundee Stars on Saturday, he threatened changes. After being turned over by the Blaze on Sunday, he's acted with ruthless authority, and few can blame him.

"We are still within striking distance of first place, though we cannot continue our current run of form. We are lacking offence right now, and it is important for us to address it," blasted the head coach.

With Goodwin's arrival, it was always unlikely that the Giants would carry three spare imports, with two players leaving - and which two - not coming as much of a shock.

Defenceman Forsberg is undoubtedly the unluckier of the two to be exiting the team, forced out of the line-up for a long stretch to start the season after picking up an injury in the opening game against Bili Tygri Liberec, and a victim of not having a role on his return having been unable to impress early.

Unable to crack the blue-line corps given their strong displays in his absence, the 26-year-old was forced into an unfamiliar forward role and understandably struggled.

Dupuy, on the other hand, never found his scoring touch and recorded just four goals and seven points in 26 games, leaving him as the lowest scoring forward on the roster. While the lack of scoring was not solely at his feet, his low tallies made him the stand-out candidate to be cut adrift, and so it proved.

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Belfast Giants defenceman Jesse Forsberg (William Cherry/Presseye)

In their stead comes Goodwin, who will make his debut in what is now becoming an ever-increasingly important double-header against conference rivals the Cardiff Devils at the Viola Arena this weekend and will be charged with inspiring a goal-shy forward group to find some form.

The 27-year-old St Louis native will likely take Dupuy's spot as third line centre in a straight switch and will be relied upon to bring more depth scoring to the line-up having been a reliable producer as a collegiate player with Penn State University - 44 goals in 147 games - and with Liiga outfit SaiPa - 25 in 130.

"Once we knew David was available we wanted to bring him to Belfast. He will bring quality and speed to our offence," added Keefe.

"We have to move forward and get back to work right away with important games ahead."

With that double-header against the Devils next on the agenda, and the goal-laden Sheffield Steelers coming to Belfast for another double-header in a couple of weeks' time, the changes have come at a time when the Giants have to see an upturn in form or risk falling further behind in the pursuit of defending their league title.

If it doesn't come, Forsberg and Dupuy may just be the first out the door.

Belfast Telegraph

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