Doug demands Belfast Giants step up to plate
Going into battle with the Sheffield Steelers is, in some ways, akin to going to war.
You know it’s likely to be bloody, at times it might not be pretty to watch and you want to go into it with every available ounce of firepower.
Therefore the scenario that Belfast Giants coach Doug Christiansen is presented with tonight is far from ideal.
His leading goalscorer Benoit Doucet won’t lace up his skates again this season and another man who has been finding the net with a fair degree of regularity, former Steeler Robert Dowd, is laid up until the New Year.
Therefore it won’t be an all guns blazing approach from the Giants as they look to build on their five-point lead at the top of the Elite League table.
“We’ve only played Sheffield once this season and that was three months ago, so the first period will probably be about feeling each other out,” said Christiansen.
“Losing Doucet and Dowd has taken away a lot of our offence, so we have to be a bit more creative as a team and then try to shut them down.
“Guys stepped up last weekend and as a team we played much better than we have for the last month.
“The best players on our team were our best players last weekend. Jeremy Rebek came up with two goals, Aaron Clarke came up with two goals and and they are names that we need to see on the scoresheet if we are going to be successful.
“We have to play well defensively and we have to play a smart road game against Sheffield.
“You don’t want to have the crowd getting enthusiastic or excited.
“We want to slow the game down, have our special teams play well and not give up odd man rushes because Sheffield thrive on those.”
Tonight’s game is being screened live on Sky Sports 2 and with Ulster’s Heineken Cup clash with Aironi also on Sky there is a veritable feast of TV sport this evening for Northern Ireland fans.
“I think the game being on Sky makes it bigger,” said Christiansen. “It’s the first live game of the season, it’s the only game being played on Friday night, which means all the other coaches and players and fans will probably be watching it too.
“And it’s two title contenders in what should be an exciting game,” he added.