Giants' coach Keefe: We need to be our best against Coventry

Belfast Giants head coach has told his squad that they need to just focus on their game ahead of tonight’s second leg of the Challenge Cup quarter-final at SSE Arena against the Coventry Blaze.
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Keefe is keen for his squad to book their semi-final spot tonight but is expecting that the Coventry, who have recently rallied after a poor start to their EIHL season, with all guns blazing as they seek to secure the spot for themselves.

Keefe said: “It’s a playoff game, so its a do or die game, its the first of the kind for us. I am looking forward to seeing how we respond to that challenge. Above all, its an opportunity for us to put ourselves into the semi-final. I think that will be motivation in itself for the squad to make the semis.”

He added: “There is a trophy up for grabs and we want to make sure that its ours, so this game will us the opportunity to put ourselves one step closer to that goal.”

Belfast Giants' head coach Adam Keefe. Picture: Al GooldBelfast Giants' head coach Adam Keefe. Picture: Al Goold
Belfast Giants' head coach Adam Keefe. Picture: Al Goold

Keefe expects with both teams on even standings going into the fixture with a goal apiece that the Blaze, just like the Giants, will have everything to play for.

He said: “I will be looking for another quick start from the squad, just like weekend in the double-header games. We want to carry that momentum into this game and carry it on for the full 60 minutes.”

Keefe agrees that Coventry have seen a resurgence as of late but that his squad just need to focus on their game and not worry about the Blaze.

“They are now sitting third place in the league and they are undefeated in their last eight games. We are going to have to be at our best,” he said. “But that is every night in this league, not just Wednesday against Coventry. We are more worried about ourselves that we are about anyone else in the league. We know that they are going to be good. They are going to want to get through to the semi-finals as much as we do. We have to be good.”

Looking back at last weekend's double-header against the Manchester Storm, which saw the Giants secure all four points available, Keefe says he was pleased with what he saw.

“I really like the effort from the team on Friday night. It was tough battle and I thought Manchester were very good,” he said. “We stuck with it to get the reward of the two points, we had a big goal from Charlie Curti. Then on Saturday I really like how we started that game. I think we were unlucky not to come out with more than the one goal lead after the first period.

“We did hit a bit of dip in the second period and the third period, but again the guys found a way to get the equaliser in the third and to get the win in overtime. Certainly over the past six weeks or so we have been finding ways to lose.

“On the flip side of that if feels a lot of better when you are finding ways of winning. It's much more fun to win than it is to lose. In addition to that, we have just had our first selection of the full roster, which was also nice to option and to create that inner competition in the squad.”

Tonight’s Challenge Cup quarter final at the SSE has a faceoff time of 7pm.

It will be followed by a busy final few days before the Christmas period, with the Fife Flyers at the SSE on Friday (faceoff time 7pm) and then the Giants travel to Kirkcaldy for the reverse of the fixture on Saturday (faceoff time 7.15pm).