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Giants will need to be close to perfect to snatch title: Smotherman

 

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Strong belief: Jordan Smotherman is confident the Giants can go on a winning run and successfully defend their league crown

Strong belief: Jordan Smotherman is confident the Giants can go on a winning run and successfully defend their league crown

William Cherry/Presseye

Strong belief: Jordan Smotherman is confident the Giants can go on a winning run and successfully defend their league crown

With just seven games left in the Elite League season, and the Belfast Giants five points off the pace in the standings, the defending champions know there's no more room for mistakes.

The Giants saw a brilliant opportunity to claw back a point in the table go begging at the weekend, unable to back up Friday's excellent 7-3 win over the Guildford Flames at the SSE Arena by losing to the same opposition 5-4 in overtime on Saturday.

With league leaders the Sheffield Steelers also losing to the Flames on Sunday, and the Cardiff Devils beaten by the Nottingham Panthers on Saturday, the Giants have pulled back a point on both of their rivals, but with time running out, the weekend has to be seen as a point dropped rather than a point gained.

Giants winger Jordan Smotherman, who scored in Saturday's loss as the Giants came from 4-1 down to force overtime, acknowledged: "Any point you lose at any time during the season is a tough blow in this league."

The Giants now enter the final few weeks of the regular season knowing that if they do want to win back-to-back Championships, it will require them to be close to perfect for the remaining seven games of the campaign.

That will be a tough ask, however, given that their longest winning streak this season has been six games back in October, while they still face two games against title rivals the Panthers in Belfast and one on the road against the Devils in the final weekend of the campaign.

They do still have to play bottom side the Fife Flyers three times at home, which should yield six valuable points, but in order to come from behind and snatch the Elite League crown, the Giants will need something special down the stretch.

"We've got seven games left and if we really want to give ourselves the best chance of winning then it has to be seven wins," added Smotherman.

"I don't think it's 14 (points) or nothing, but if we want to give ourselves the best chance then that's what we have to do. The cliche is it's one game at a time, but there's 14 points up for grabs and that's what we have to get."

Regardless of their predicament, the Giants still have belief that they can win the title if they can finally shake off their inconsistency and go on a run, with Smotherman convinced there are still twists and turns to come in the title race.

"It's a four or five-horse race and anybody can take points off anybody on any given night, so a four or five-point advantage at this stage of the season means nothing," insisted the winger.

"Everybody in the standings is playing each other at least once more, so teams are taking points off each other in the standings and it's about us making sure that we take the most that we can.

"It all comes down to that play-off drive. There's still two trophies on the line and we want to be in the hunt for both of them."

Belfast Telegraph