Unity the key behind Belfast Giants success according to head coach Adam Keefe
After another four-point weekend in the Elite League, head coach Adam Keefe says he's delighted by the buy-in from his league-leading Belfast Giants.
Four points clear of the chasing pack, led by defending champions the Cardiff Devils, after two more road wins over the Coventry Blaze and Guildford Flames, it's become something of a habit for the Giants to pick up back-to-back wins on a weekend.
They've won nine consecutive games in the Elite League, all away from the SSE Arena, and 20 of their last 23 in all competitions and show no signs of slowing down either.
The top line continues to fire, the triumvirate of Darcy Murphy, Blair Riley and David Rutherford contributing six points in the win over Guildford, while Tyler Beskorowany continues to be almost unbeatable at the other end.
But for Keefe, it's more than the stand-out names on the roster, rather it's been a collective effort that has seen them establish themselves as the early pace-setters.
"Our guys are playing for each other at the minute and that's the reason why, even when we're not at our best, we're finding ways to grind out wins, and that's because of the little things our guys are doing like blocking shots and battling for each other, and that's good to see," says Keefe.
"It's certainly a lot easier to coach when you have a team that buys in and compete for each other like that."
- Last minute Kyle Baun heroics see Belfast Giants win thriller over Coventry Blaze
- Belfast Giants get big road win in Guildford for four-point weekend
For the moment, the league push is sidelined again as the Giants turn their attentions to mid-week hockey and a trip back to Dundee to face the Stars in the first leg of their Challenge Cup quarter-final.
After breezing through their group and securing top seed status, Belfast selected the Stars as their opponents and will be hoping to take a lead into the second leg on December 11 back at the SSE Arena.
The Giants lead the season series 4-1, however Dundee have shown a lot of promise since the two sides last met, picking up two big wins at the weekend over the Fife Flyers.
"It's the first leg of the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup, so I suppose it'll be nice to switch the league brain off for a game," claims Keefe. "We approach every game like a play-off game, and the first leg of the quarter-final will be no different.
"Dundee are playing a lot better and they picked up two really good wins at the weekend, and they've already taken points off us this season, so we need to go in there and be at our best to get off to the right start."
- Netminder Darion Hanson leads Union College to Friendship Four glory
- US college ice hockey chief hails Belfast tournament as 'phenomenal experience'
Your weekly reminder that Tyler Beskorowany is too good for this league, his .945 SAV and 1.60 GAA see him lead both categories in the EIHL by a considerable margin... interesting to hear former Giants defenseman Ryan Martinelli claim he no longer has any emotional attachment for Belfast after joining Sheffield, who the Giants play this weekend, particularly after the off-season fall-out of those moves... an enjoyable break from the ice for some of the Giants players as they got the chance to work out with England football legend Alan Shearer at the new Bannatyne Health Spa and Gym at Holywood Exchange, with Jonathan Boxill seemingly the most excited... it's clear the Friendship Four is going from strength to strength as 23,000 attended the four games, with record viewing numbers on NESN and TSN in North America... Union College netminder Darion Hanson deservedly won ECAC Goaltender of the Week for his phenomenal performance at the Friendship Four last week, turning away 70 of the 72 shots he faced - I'm still not sure how he made that ridiculous kick save.
Belfast Telegraph Digital