Belfast Telegraph

Keefe won't allow Belfast Giants to rest on laurels ahead of Challenge Cup semi second leg


By Stuart McKinley

Adam Keefe will not let his Belfast Giants players sit back on their healthy first-leg lead as they prepare to face the Nottingham Panthers in the second leg of their Challenge Cup semi-final tonight at the SSE Arena (7pm).

A superb 5-1 victory in Nottingham seven days ago has put the Giants within touching distance of the final on Sunday March 4.

Keefe, however, remembers only too well that the Giants held a strong first-leg advantage against the Panthers in the final four years ago before losing on penalties in the National Ice Centre and he is determined that there will be no repeat of that failure.

His message to the players is therefore a simple one - 'win the game and we're in the final'.

"The way we will approach this is that we want to win the game," said Keefe.

"We can't have it in our heads that we are 5-1 up and that we have the job done.

"If we win the game, we go into the final.

"It will be defence first, the same as it was in the first leg last week, and if we keep the goals against down then it will set us up for success.

"They will come hard, I have no doubt about that, so we don't want to give them any hope that they can get back into the tie."

As captain, Giants fans expected Keefe to lift the Challenge Cup in 2014 after a 5-2 win in the home leg, but the Panthers snatched that away.

Those memories will play a part in the coach's motivation this time around as he looks to lead the club to their first success in the competition since 2009 in his first season behind the bench.

"That final is all too fresh in my memory and it's a lifelong lesson for me that these things are never over until they are over," he said.

"You have to close out these games and get the job done.

"We were set up for the trophy that night and didn't get the job done.

"This time we will be prepared and professional and if we win 1-0 I will be extremely happy."

The Sheffield Steelers will take a 6-2 lead to defending champions the Cardiff Devils in the other semi-final tonight.

Belfast Telegraph

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