Leonard wants cure for Giants' travel sickness
Belfast Giants defenceman Curtis Leonard says the team are tired of losing on the road and are determined to end their wretched away form this weekend at the Glasgow Clan.
The Giants are in the Braehead Arena for a double-header this weekend, meeting in a winner-takes-all Challenge Cup clash tonight (face-off 7pm) before meeting again tomorrow in the Elite League (face-off 4pm).
While the league game will see the Giants take on the early pace-setters in the Clan, all of the focus is on tonight's crucial cup clash that will decide who goes through to the quarter-finals.
Adam Keefe's side, the back-to-back defending champions, know they need at least a point from tonight's meeting to reach the knockouts - with the Clan in exactly the same situation, making it effectively a knockout game - however they are still yet to win outside of Belfast this season having lost three domestic games and two Champions League matches on the road.
But Leonard insists that the entire roster is united in a desire to end their five-game losing skid outside of Belfast, and that starts tonight in Glasgow.
"Being on the road is a bit of a different atmosphere. Travel's a bit different here but that's no excuse," said the defenceman, who is also one of the Giants' alternate captains.
"You have to play a simple game, take the crowd out of it on the road. Once you do that, you can impose your will, limit their scoring opportunities. If you do that then you'll have success.
"Winning on the road is a good feeling. It's a long ride back when you've lost, the bus is a lot quieter. We've had that feeling the last couple of weekends and I think guys are tired of it. I'm tired of it.
"This week we'll go in there and take care of business. We're a team that has a lot of pride. We're back-to-back winners of the Challenge Cup, so it's something we want to retain."
Making things even tougher is that the Clan are one of the in-form sides in the Elite League right now, topping the table after six games and having won away at Cardiff, Nottingham and Sheffield in recent weeks.
The Giants already own the bragging rights over their nearest geographical rivals having beaten them 6-1 in the reverse Cup fixture at the SSE Arena, but that was their first domestic game of the season, and since then Glasgow have gone on that exceptional run of form.
"It'll be a completely different test, they're a completely different team in their rink. It's a tough rink to play in, they're a great team at home, they come out with a lot of speed and compete really hard," warned Leonard. "They want to eliminate us and we want to stick around, so it'll be a good test. They have some quality players so the best team will come out on top."
The Giants are at full strength for this weekend, reporting no injuries, meaning head coach Adam Keefe will have to sit one import for both games due to the Elite League's import rules.