Belfast Giants Impress on Four-Game Road Trip: Elite League Takeaways

Ben Lake, Belfast Giants (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Ben Lake, Belfast Giants (Image: Scott Wiggins)

After another busy week in the Elite League, the Sheffield Steelers remain top of the standings while a pair of Scottish teams stay beneath the playoff line.

1. Sheffield Steelers (27-4-1)

  • W: 5-2 v Manchester Storm (12/2)
  • W: 3-2 v Glasgow Clan (13/2)

Winning back-to-back has become quite the habit for the Steelers. Aaron Fox’s side extended their winning run to seven games, beating Glasgow thanks to a late strike from in-form winger Marc-Olivier Vallerand.

2. Belfast Giants (25-7-2)

  • W: 1-7 @ Coventry Blaze (9/2)
  • OTL: 4-3 @ Dundee Stars (11/2)
  • W: 0-7 @ Dundee Stars (12/2)
  • SOW: 2-3 @ Fife Flyers (13/2)

Belfast Giants Impress Amid Hectic Schedule

Belfast head coach Adam Keefe wasn’t pleased by his side’s overtime defeat to Dundee on Friday. “The second period is where we lost that game,” he said, bemoaning his team’s trips to the penalty box for fouls committed in the offensive zone.

In his post-game remarks, Keefe lifted the lid on what he said to his players before the third period. “Good teams find a way to comeback,” the 37-year-old explained. And they did on Saturday, thrashing Dundee 7-0.

Justin Hamonic, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Justin Hamonic, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)

The bottom line is this. The Giants secured seven points from the eight available on a tricky four-game road trip. If that isn’t a good week, I don’t know what is.

3. Cardiff Devils (25-10-1)

  • W: 4-2 v Glasgow Clan (9/2)
  • W: 5-2 v Nottingham Panthers (12/2)
  • L: 4-1 @ Nottingham Panthers (13/2)

Last week, I wrote a short piece about the title race. I argued that Sheffield are the team to beat, with Belfast their main source of competition. Cardiff, I said, were running out of games to close the gap at the top of the standings.

Related: Iron Clad Steelers to Claim Elite League Title?

Well, the Devils’ 4-1 loss against Nottingham only reinforced my view that the regular-season title may be beyond them. Cardiff crumbled on Sunday, dropping points on a night they couldn’t afford to. For all the good work Jarrod Skalde’s team did to start the week, they undid much of it on the road in Panthers nation.

4. Nottingham Panthers (15-15-3)

  • L: 4-2 @ Manchester Storm (11/2)
  • L: 5-2 @ Cardiff Devils (12/2)
  • W: 4-1 v Cardiff Devils (13/2)

“It was great to see,” Mark Matheson said of his teammates’ performance on Sunday. “Absolutely every single guy responded and that resulted in our best game of the season.” Will the Panthers’ 4-1 victory over Cardiff spark a winning run for the Nottinghamshire side?

5. Guildford Flames (13-16-4)

  • L: 1-5 v Fife Flyers (12/2)
  • W: 5-1 @ Coventry Blaze (13/2)

After a dismal showing at home against Fife, Paul Dixon’s Flames came out fighting against Coventry. Guildford’s special teams were the difference-maker on Sunday, they scored three goals on the man advantage and killed three Coventry power plays.

6. Coventry Blaze (13-14-2)

  • L: 1-7 v Belfast Giants (9/2)
  • W: 4-6 @ Glasgow Clan (12/2)
  • L: 1-5 v Guildford Flames (13/2)

The Blaze, rocked by COVID-19 and injuries, added a contingent of two-way and guest players to their roster last week – leading to a mixed set of results.

Although Danny Stewart was unhappy with his side’s 5-1 loss to the Flames, Coventry showed a lot of character in their 6-4 win over Glasgow. Nathan Ripley, in particular, deserves praise – he was excellent following his call up from the Sheffield Steeldogs.

7. Manchester Storm (12-18-3)

  • W: 4-2 v Nottingham Panthers (11/2)
  • L: 5-2 @ Cardiff Devils (12/2)

In his second season as a professional, Adam Brady has become a standout performer. The 26-year-old has ten points (three goals, seven assists) in his last six appearances for the Storm and played a vital role in Manchester’s win over the Panthers.

Brady potted a brace and provided an assist on Friday night, much to the delight of head coach Ryan Finnerty.

“I think we did a lot of good stuff out there,” Finnerty said. “Even when Nottingham came back, it didn’t feel like we had any panic in our game… I thought we had a tonne of sustained pressure, we stayed with it, stayed on the gas and found a way in the third period.”

On Saturday, the Storm were second-best versus Cardiff – although most teams have come up short against the Devils this term.

8.Glasgow Clan (11-15-4)

  • L: 4-2 @ Cardiff Devils (9/2)
  • L: 4-6 v Coventry Blaze (12/2)
  • L: 3-2 @ Sheffield Steelers (13/2)

Malcolm Cameron will have better weeks behind Glasgow’s bench. Following the Clan’s narrow loss in Sheffield on Sunday, the Canadian said: “We battled, we played hard. We’ve had a lot of these games, real tight games against the top teams, and we’ve had our hearts broken in a few of them.”

In retrospect, the Clan won’t lose much sleep over their defeats to Cardiff and Sheffield – but losing to the injury-depleted Blaze will sting. Despite ending the week pointless, Glasgow remain in a playoff berth.

9. Dundee Stars (11-16-3)

  • OTW: 4-3 v Belfast Giants (11/2)
  • L: 0-7 v Belfast Giants (12/2)

“Not good enough,” Dundee head coach Omar Pacha said of his team’s performance on Saturday. “From everybody, from myself to the players, we disappointed a lot of people tonight. Last night, I thought the second period was our best of the year and tonight was the complete opposite. The third goal killed us.”

It’s difficult to know what to write about the Stars when they’re excellent one night and rudderless the next. They’ll attempt to bounce back on Wednesday for the visit of the Devils.

10. Fife Flyers (9-21-2)

  • W: 1-5 @ Guildford Flames (12/2)
  • SOL: 2-3 v Belfast Giants (13/2)

Todd Dutiaume, though disappointed to lose on penalties against Belfast, will be delighted with his team’s performances last week. The Flyers’ slump is over.


Did the Belfast Giants impress you? Join the conversation by tweeting @BritIceHockey.

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