Elite League preview: Title race going down to the wire?

Belfast Giants’ captain Adam Keefe has urged his teammates to carry their excellent recent form into the Elite League play-offs.

The Giants head into this weekend’s home games against Sheffield Steelers and Coventry Blaze on the back of a five-game winning run and Keefe is keen to keep things rolling.

“We want to get back to playing at the top of our potential – we’re working towards that, though we’re not quite there yet with a couple of mistakes here and there,” said Keefe.

“We want to gain momentum going into the play-offs and that’s been the focus for the last two to three weeks. We need to keep the train rolling.

“The years we won the league trophy, we recognise how difficult it is to get that momentum going into the play-offs when other teams are fighting for positions and they are playing at their best.

“It’s crucial to be playing at a high level – a fast-pace, a play-off pace going into those games. People elevate their game for the play-offs and the pace will be high and we need to make sure we are playing at the highest tempo we can.”

“We want to keep rolling and find ways to put pucks in the back of the net. We’ve been doing a good job of that with (Colin) Shields scoring a hat-trick on Friday and another one from (David) Rutherford on Sunday. Guys are finding the net which is great to see.

“We cannot look past Sheffield – they are a top side and have been for the past couple of seasons. It’s a huge game for us in order to secure the second place in the league.”

A Belfast victory on Friday would close the gap on league leaders Cardiff to three points, and with the Devils set to visit Sheffield the following day the title race could still go down to the final weekend.

The Devils return to home ice on Sunday to face Fife Flyers, but Player/Coach Andrew Lord admits he’ll be keenly watching how the Giants fare against the Steelers.

“It’ll be good to know what we’re dealing with either way on Saturday,” he told IceTime TV.

“At the same time we just want a good performance. Let’s play the right way like we’ve been doing so much lately on a consistent basis.

“When we do that our chances of success are very, very high.

“Sunday’s game against the Flyers will also be tough. Their top two lines especially have a ton of speed. We’ve seen how great their goalie can be too.

“They’ve got veterans like (Ric) Jackman and (Russ) Moyer who get their room and identity right, so it’ll be another very tough test.



Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers
Dundee Stars v Nottingham Panthers


Belfast Giants v Coventry Blaze
Edinburgh Capitals v Nottingham Panthers
Fife Flyers v Braehead Clan
Manchester Storm v Dundee Stars
Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils


Cardiff Devils v Fife Flyers
Coventry Blaze v Braehead Clan
Edinburgh Capitals v Nottingham Panthers

(Image permission: Press Eye)

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