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Kyle Baun has huge goals in mind for the Belfast Giants

 

By Adam McKendry

Scoring four goals in one game will naturally put you at the centre of attention, so it's no surprise that Kyle Baun is a man in demand after doing just that.

Not satisfied with just the hat-trick in the 8-1 win over the Cardiff Devils last Sunday, the Toronto native went and grabbed a fourth in Ice Arena Wales for good measure, the first time he's done so in his pro career.

The quadruple tally has taken the 26-year-old joint top of the goalscoring charts in the Elite League alongside team-mate Blair Riley, and he has 22 points for the season from 19 games.

More importantly, his quality in front of goal helped Belfast to their seventh straight win following a 4-0 shut-out of the Nottingham Panthers the night before, and their lead at the top of the Elite League standings is now four points.

When asked if that was their best weekend of the season, Baun admits: "It's definitely up there.

"We had that weekend in Nottingham and Manchester, two overtime wins when we were shortbodied. They're obviously different, I think this weekend playing against two of the top teams was a statement to the rest of the league, but there are weekends mixed in there where we pulled out character wins in close games.

"Every week we've been building and last weekend was a culmination of that."

On the run the Giants have been on, which has seen them win 16 of their last 18 games in all competitions, complacency could become an issue, but Baun is sure that won't be the case.

"We're trying to stay level-headed," he says. "It's a long year, and if we start slowing down then the games over the past few weekends lose their value, so it's important not to get too high or too low.

"But you want to have that swagger, I think part of success is having that confidence knowing we can go in and dominate any team."

For now, the league takes a back seat as Belfast turn all their attention towards their Continental Cup semi-final group, which starts tonight at the SSE Arena against Croatian side Medvescak Zagreb (face-off 7pm).

The four-team tournament, which runs from today until Saturday, sees the Giants welcome Zagreb - who have former Giants favourite Sebastien Sylvestre among their ranks - Italian side Rittner Buam and Polish league leaders GKS Katowice to Belfast, with each side playing each other once over the next three days.

The top two finishers in the group progress to January's Super Final, and Baun believes that the best way to approach this week is to concentrate on what they can control.

"We're playing some good teams here coming up but we're trying to focus on what we can do," insists Baun.

"You'll focus on other teams' tendencies, but as long as everybody continues to trust this process and shows up like we did in Cardiff then that'll be the key to our success this weekend.

"I know some of our guys have played against these teams in the past, so they might have some more familiarity, but it's tough to say. I'm sure the early parts of the games will be feeling each other out, and the intensity will get ramped up pretty quickly and it'll be exciting."

Also key is the fact that it will be the first time Belfast have played at home in a month, having played 10 consecutive games on the road since.

"It's good to be back," admits Baun with a smile. "It's a month since we've been here and it really does feel like home."

Belfast Telegraph

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