Belfast Telegraph

Pearce is drafted in to bolster Giants' attack

 

New arrival: Elgin Pearce, the seventh roster change of the season
New arrival: Elgin Pearce, the seventh roster change of the season
Matt Pelech
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

With yesterday's signing of forward Elgin Pearce, the Belfast Giants have now made seven roster changes since the start of the season, a reflection on a turbulent campaign so far.

Ryan Lowney, David Goodwin and Rickard Palmberg have all been mid-season arrivals in addition to Pearce, while the outgoings have seen Jean Dupuy, Jesse Forsberg and Patryk Wronka - who was confirmed to be joining French side Gap yesterday - leave the side since the summer.

It's an unenviable task that head coach Adam Keefe and head of hockey operations Steve Thornton have in deciding when a change is required, but the bottom line is the team haven't been performing as they would have liked, as reflected in Wednesday's 4-0 loss to the Cardiff Devils.

Their third shut-out in their last five games saw the Giants' Challenge Cup defence come to a premature end at the quarter-final stage and once again highlighted how tough consistent attack has been for the team this year, with Pearce the latest name drafted in to try and rectify that.

With such upheaval in the locker room, what it does to the mentality of the team can sometimes come into question, but it's something that the team themselves aren't dwelling on, as tough as it is to lose team-mates.

"It sucks to lose guys who you've worked hard with. We have a bit of a brotherhood in there. When a guy leaves, you lose a friend, that's happened a couple of times this year," admits captain Matt Pelech.

"We're trying to get better as a team. Steve and the guys in the front office are trying to make us better, everyone's trying to help.

"We can't look back, we have to look forward. That's been the message."

For Pelech himself it has been a trying year as captain of the team, not just because of the indifferent results but also because he's spent time on the sidelines through injury and has had to maintain a watching brief instead.

However, the imposing defenceman, who led from the front against the Devils on Wednesday by dropping the gloves with Mark Louis for the second week running, insists he doesn't have to do much to rally his troops and that they, as a team, are well aware of what needs to change this weekend.

"There's so much character and leadership in that room outside of our leadership group. Everyone in there is a pro. Everyone knows what we need to do," said the 32-year-old.

"(Yesterday) was a step in the right direction with our practice and we need to keep building on that. This weekend represents a huge moment for us as a team. We need a big character performance, for sure."

The schedule has shone kindly on the Giants in that not only do they get the chance to bounce straight back from Wednesday's disappointment tonight, they do it against the same opposition.

The Devils (14-6-2, 30pts, 2nd) are the visitors to the SSE Arena this evening (face-off 7pm), this time in Elite League action, and, despite their rocky displays, it's a chance for Keefe's side to move ahead of their rivals into second in the standings if they win.

"That's the great thing about hockey. Normally if you have a bad game you have a quick turnaround to try and redeem yourself," added Pelech.

"It's good that we play them because they're the team we play in the standings, but after a game like Wednesday you have to be ready to rebound no matter who you're playing."

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