The Giants face one more weekend on the road before they finally return to the SSE Arena in Continental Cup Action next Thursday. Before that they face one of the more testing weekends of the season with visits to Nottingham and Cardiff.
With 4 wins in their last 10 game, the Nottingham Panthers form can be described as erratic. At times they have had the tendency to look like the leagues strongest, at others they have struggled to find the consistency or cohesiveness to pick up the win. But following a weekend of success in cup and league action, Adam Keefe can be sure that the Giants will face a team who not only will want revenge for the OT defeat two weeks ago, but also will want to reassert their belief in the race for the EIHL title.
Speaking with Joel Neill of AVFTB, Adam Keefe is under no disillusion as to the ability of Saturday’s opponent, especially with the recent additions to their side,
“We’ll be facing a different team to what we’ve seen in the past especially with addition of Alexandre Bolduc who’s a former team-mate and room-mate of mine, I know what to expect from him and he will certainly improve that club. We need to understand we are facing a better Panthers team this time around and we want to be ready for that”
In their last encounter a 14-skater Giants team overturned a 2-0 deficit at the NIC to pick up the 2 points in overtime. With the series at 2-1 to the Giants, Adam Keefe will know that despite the Panthers additions, the Giants will be rolling into Nottingham with a stronger line up than that which took the victory 2 weeks ago.
On Sunday the Giants make their first trip of the season to Ice Arena Wales to open their account with the reigning league champion, Cardiff Devils. Andrew Lords side appeared to be on rich form up until the last week. Scoring for fun and picking up points in the charge for 3 titles in a row. Yet in the last 7 days they have conspired to 3 defeats.
The Coventry Blaze took what was a shock victory last Saturday in the 100th Devils game at IAW, made more surprising by the fact that Jordan Hedley, Coventry’s young British back up, was the last line of defence for a majority of the game.
They then went to Nottingham and lost a tight game 2-1 before coming back to the NIC mid week and undertaking a cat and mouse game against the Flyers which Fife took in Overtime.
So 1 point from 6 available leaves the Devils stinging, and the mid week departure of key defenseman Ben Blood brought a little bit of panic to the fanbase. The Devils acted quickly to bring former Nottingham Panthers favourite, Evan Mosey, into the line up. Yet questions marks still hang over a side that a matter of weeks ago were looking imperious.
Giants d-man, Paul Swindlehurst is relishing the challenge ahead in Ice Arena Wales.
“Us and Cardiff are in a battle for the top spot at the minute, it’ll be good to look at what their teams like and how we come up against them. This is a big, big weekend for us”
The Giants sit top of the EIHL and will be looking to do nothing other than consolidate this position. To prove their worth in the title race, the Panthers and the Devils are two opponents that they will look to overcome and stamp authority on their challenge.
They have shown character and ability already this season. There’s no reason to think this weekend will be any different.
PODCAST: LIVE BY THE SPEAR… – David Rutherford and Tyler Beskorowany join the lads on this weeks A View From The Bridge Podcast, Official Podcast of the Belfast Giants, part of Kingdom Of The Giants.
Saturday: Nottingham Panthers v Belfast Giants, EIHL, 7pm (No Webcast)
Sunday: Cardiff Devils v Belfast Giants, EIHL, 6pm (Webcast Details)