Belfast Telegraph

Thornton ready to turn back the clock for Belfast Giants

By Stuart McKinley

Steve Thornton is supremely confident that the current Belfast Giants team can make history repeat itself.

The coach has previous when it comes to winning the Play-off title and five years after lifting the trophy on Easter Sunday he believes the team is well placed to do it all again, with a semi-final against Coventry Blaze to look forward to tomorrow, while the Sheffield Steelers face the Hull Stingrays in the other last-four battle.

That 2010 penalty shoot-out success over the Cardiff Devils was also Thornton's last game as a player, with Shane Johnson and Mark Morrison joining him in retirement.

As many as half a dozen Giants could be hanging up their skates after this weekend and Thornton wants them to experience the same feeling of going out on a high as he did.

"That Play-off win in 2010 is one of the best memories I have of my career," said Thornton, who also played in the Giants 2003 Play-off winning team.

"I knew going into the weekend that it was going to be my last as a player. What I didn't know at the time was that it was also going to be the end of my first spell as coach of the Giants.

"It was a great way for me to go out, as well as the other guys who finished up after that.

"There are some guys on our team who are retiring or are contemplating retirement and they deserve to finish in a great way."

The Giants Elite League title hopes ended early, almost at exactly the same time as they clinched it last season.

Thornton, however, has turned that into a positive and that is a big part of the reason why he believes that a third Play-off championship can be brought to the Odyssey.

"We have had a goal in focus and the one thing that dropping out of the league race early allowed us to do was allow us to prepare for a good run at the Play-offs," he said.

"We have been building down the stretch. The last four games have been good and when you win and you're scoring goals, confidence lifts and that's what we needed to happen."

Belfast Telegraph


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