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Still plenty of fight left in Giants, insists Morgan

 

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Stuck in: Liam Morgan with the Cardiff Devils’ Joey Martin

Stuck in: Liam Morgan with the Cardiff Devils’ Joey Martin

William Cherry/Presseye

Stuck in: Liam Morgan with the Cardiff Devils’ Joey Martin

In many ways, Liam Morgan dropping the gloves with ex-Giants captain Blair Riley at centre ice on Sunday accurately resembled how the Belfast Giants are approaching the run-in this season - taking no prisoners.

The Giants' 21-year-old winger was not only giving up 11lb to his opponent, now of the Cardiff Devils, in going toe-to-toe with him, he was also tangling with a man with 13 years more experience, and with a longer record of fights in his career too.

Indeed, Riley had plenty of scraps while with the Giants, not adverse to sticking up for his team-mates with his strength, the same as in his time in the AHL. By agreeing to tussle, Morgan was sending out a statement.

"Back in junior hockey I had a couple (of fights), so, yeah, it's been a while since I've fought somebody," recalled Morgan.

"It felt a little weird, but exciting at the same time. I wasn't really thinking about that in the moment, it just kind of happened. It was a good fight. I didn't get beat up too badly so I'll take it!"

The fight could accurately be summed up as a draw, coming to a disappointing and premature end when Riley dragged Morgan's jersey over his head after both had landed a shot or two.

Quite aptly, the outcome was a rather accurate reflection of the weekend as a whole for the Giants, who split the weekend with the Devils two points each after a 1-0 win apiece at the SSE Arena.

It's a weekend that leaves the Giants more or less where they started. At 24-15-2, they gained two points on league leaders the Sheffield Steelers - who they now trail by seven with two games in hand - but the Devils themselves remain two points ahead of the Giants having played two fewer games than Adam Keefe's charges.

It is the Welsh side who now pose the bigger threat to the Giants' aspirations of defending their Elite League crown, and with 14 games left they know time is not on their side.

But Morgan of all people knows how hard they're going to have to fight if they want to emerge at the end of the season on top of the pile.

The weekend gone by was a chance missed and they can't afford any more like that, but once the team return from their week off - while GB begin their Olympic qualifying campaign - Morgan insists they'll not hold back as the league reaches its final stages.

"I know after this weekend some of the guys are a bit banged up. It was a war out there pretty much. We're looking forward to some rest and relaxation," admitted the Canadian winger.

"In the last four games we've been playing some good hockey. If we keep that momentum going then we'll make a run down the stretch. We're a little more dialled in here now. We're trying to give everything we've got."

Winger Liam Reddox is expected to return to the roster for the next game, at home to Manchester Storm on February 15, after reporting no issues after a warm-up prior to Sunday's game following a spell on the sidelines.

Belfast Telegraph