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Massive ties only concern for Keefe


Big time: Giants captain Adam Keefe can’t wait to get stuck into Fife and Sheffield

Big time: Giants captain Adam Keefe can’t wait to get stuck into Fife and Sheffield

Big time: Giants captain Adam Keefe can’t wait to get stuck into Fife and Sheffield

Adam Keefe is certain that the Belfast Giants won't be affected by the Continental Cup this weekend.

The Giants captain is so sure that his team mates will be looking forward rather than back because of the magnitude of the matches they face tonight and tomorrow.

First up is a Challenge Cup trip to the Fife Flyers this evening, with Keefe having revenge on his mind, with a 6-1 defeat in Belfast at the end of September still fresh in his mind.

And that is followed by a blockbuster at the Odyssey on Sunday, when the current Elite League leaders, the Sheffield Steelers, come to town.

"Fife taught us a lesson the last time and I am eager to get revenge for that," said Keefe.

"We can't underestimate them, I know that they will play hard against us, they always do and we have to give a full 60-minute effort if we are going to get the win that we want.

"We know what Sheffield are all about. They are a good team and we have to be ready to take them on physically."

The Giants' European adventure ended in major disappointment - with a fairly large measure of controversy thrown in for good measure.

After beating Neman Grodno of Belarus and Sanok of Poland in last weekend's Continental Cup semi-final tournament, the Giants lost out on a place in the Super Final when the only outcome that could deny them - a one-goal win for Neman over French hosts Angers Ducs in the final games, provided it was greater than 3-2 - came to pass, with a 4-3 success sending the Belarussians through.

Fans and players alike voiced their frustration over how their team had been denied the opportunity of a place in the final tournament, but Keefe is more upset that the team didn't do enough to make sure they qualified.

"We really would have liked to have made it to the Super Final and to host it in Belfast - it would have been great for the city," said Keefe.

"It's really disappointing that it didn't happen, but we should have made sure that we got through ourselves by beating the French team and not had other results affect us.

"It stung for a while and it took a day or two to sink in, but it's behind us now - it has to be.

"We have to get over it because we have a big weekend where we can take another step forward in the Challenge Cup and then we have a top-of-the-table battle with Sheffield.

"The best way to get over it is to collect two wins from our two games and we can't afford to be anything less than 100% focused on our jobs."

The Giants are three points behind the Steelers, with both teams having played 17 games.

Following two defeats in Sheffield already this season, Keefe is aware of the problems that the Giants have had and is now working on putting them right.

"We want to win the league again and get back into the Continental Cup and the way to do that is by having as many four-point weekends as possible," he said.

"We haven't had enough of those and it's been a while since there was one. Although one of our games this weekend is Challenge Cup, we want to get into good habits and we can't turn it on and off, we have to show up to play every night and be almost playing in overdrive all the time.

"We need to be putting in 60-minutes performances in every game and I don't think we have been doing that enough.

"At times we have been dominating games and looked comfortable, but then we've taken our foot off the gas for 10 minutes and it's cost us.

"It's important that everyone is at their best, particularly now as we are coming into December and it's a vital period of the season."

Keefe's role in the team has changed just slightly in recent weeks. He has always been the man to look after his team mates during his time in Belfast, but the arrival of Kevin Westgarth means there is less reason for him to fight - and not only because the former NHL-er is ready to drop his gloves.

"He is a big player, a household name and other teams are more wary of playing physical when he is on the ice," said Keefe.

Belfast Telegraph