Belfast Telegraph

Keefe won't let cup decider distract Giants from league mission

By Stuart McKinley

Adam Keefe won't allow thoughts of the Challenge Cup final against the Cardiff Devils to take his focus away from trying to stop the Welsh side retaining the Elite League title.

The showpiece decider - in Cardiff's own Ice Arena Wales home - will take place on Sunday, March 4 but Keefe wants his Belfast Giants players to remain focused.

With eight games in the 23 days before the final, starting at home to the Fife Flyers tonight (7pm), and a seven-point gap to make up on the Devils, the Giants must put Wednesday's dramatic 7-6 win over the Nottingham Panthers in the second leg of the semi-final out of their heads and get their minds in the right place if they are to stay in the hunt for a first league success since 2014.

"We now have to refocus everyone," said Keefe. "I am very quick to forget.

"We have come through a tough schedule in the last three weeks, but we had a day off after beating Nottingham and some rest and recovery and now we have to be ready to play against a team close to us in the standings and who will have their eyes on Cardiff too."

Keefe believes that despite the gap at the top of the table his men are in a position where they can play with freedom.

They also have the fixture schedule on their side, with six successive home league games looming and only four away trips remaining between now and the end of the season.

Two of them are in Cardiff and the key for Keefe is to make sure that his team are poised to make the most of the situation should Cardiff drop points in the coming weeks.

"The pressure is all on Cardiff and we have to keep the pressure on them by winning our games and making sure that when we come to play them, those games mean something," said Keefe. "We have to keep chasing them down and it may only take one slip up.

"We have to keep pace with them and if the slip up comes be at their heels and ready to pounce.

"They have 16 games left, the majority are on the road and they still have to play Sheffield four times and Nottingham twice as well as the three games we have to play them.

"If they win them all we'll tip our hats to them, but we'll be going all out to make sure we can take advantage if they don't."

Keefe will wait for an update from medical staff before deciding who his starting goaltender will be tonight.

Chris Truehl had to step in against Nottingham on Wednesday when Jackson Whistle picked up an injury.

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