Belfast Giants’ Player/Coach Derrick Walser says he enjoys games against Sheffield Steelers – but wants to get one back on them.
The teams contest the second semi-final of the Elite League play-offs on Saturday and Walser is out for revenge.
“The best thing about this game against Sheffield is that they came to us a couple of weeks ago and won both games, so that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” said Walser.
“We want to respond to that – we seem to enjoy playing each other and I think both teams will want to put a show on in the right way.
“We have the biggest respect for this team and they’ve shown why they were champions two years in a row. They have a ton of character, but we want to show our fans how good we are.
“Getting to the ‘dance’ though, there are too many variables about what could happen so we’re just going to go and see what happens.
“We’re going to lay it on the line in game one and if we get to the final then we’ll worry about that, so we have to do ourselves a favour and get the wins we need to pick up the final trophy of the year.
“If we don’t get to the final I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll take a lot from the year we’ve had and remain proud of the guys.
“It’s going to be really tight for whoever reaches the final, no matter who it is and it’s no easy path to get through.”
Sheffield Steelers’ boss Paul Thompson admits progressing to the play-off weekend was hugely satisfying.
The Steeelers cemented their spot after a 7-6 overtime aggregate win over Nottingham Panthers after coming back from 5-2 down in the first leg.
“We didn’t make it last year as the league took a lot out of us – to get back up to face a Coventry team that were going well at that point, we didn’t get it done,” Thompson said.
“I remember seeing the sea of orange in the arena for the finals last year and the other supporters ribbing them about our team not being there.
“So I woke up on Monday with a smile on my face and thinking that the orange army will be there to cheer us on and be there for it.
“We’ve got a tough test against Belfast on Saturday – a team that are similar in style to us and we’ve had some really good games against them. We’re expecting another barnstormer.
“They’re a really good team, with skilled players and really deep. I like them a lot and it’s going to be a hell of a game.
“We have to prepare like we do every week and hopefully we’ll win that semi-final. I don’t want to sound bolshy when I say that. If we win, we have to prepare for what’s coming.
“We put in six good periods out of seven at the weekend and I hope we can do the same this weekend, but we have to get past Belfast to have the chance to win a trophy.”
Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers
Cardiff Devils v Dundee Stars
3rd/4th place game
(Image permission: Press Eye)