Wednesday night sees the Stena Line Belfast Giants take a break from Elite League action with the Semi-Final against the Nottingham Panthers. Face-Off is 7pm on Wednesday with Giants in a commanding position to advance to the Challenge Cup Final which will be hosted in Cardiff on Sunday 4th March. The other Semi-Final also takes place on Wednesday with the Sheffield Steelers taking a 6-2 lead to Wales for the 2nd Leg against the Cardiff Devils.
Goals from Rutherford, Vandermeer, Saviano, Goulakos and Sylvestre saw the Giants build a 5-1 lead following last week’s 1st Leg in Nottingham and Head Coach Adam Keefe was pleased by his side’s performance on the road in the first half of this Semi-Final encounter.
“We have obviously given ourselves a nice cushion. I asked the guys to win the game 1-0, so we will obviously take the 5-1 win.”
Despite the four goal lead, the Giants will not be sitting back when the puck drops on Wednesday. Coach Keefe is preparing the team for a ‘winner takes all’ game against a quality Panthers side.
“I choose to put that 1st Leg aside and win a hockey game,” said Keefe. “We will be approaching Wednesday’s game as a ‘one-off’ – we need to win it to move forward.”
“I expect the guys to show up and put in a solid performance. This gives us a good opportunity to focus on our defence first. We need to make the right decisions and shut them down early.”
The Giants are preparing for a battle on Wednesday night at the SSE Arena with the Nottingham Panthers standing in the way of a first Challenge Cup Final appearance since 2014 and the opportunity to win the trophy for the first time since 2009.
“We need to take away their hope and desire to win the game. They will come and bring the pace to us and want to get some goals on the board early.”
“We will need to be at our best or else it will give them life. We need to be at our best to win the hockey game and know that a 1-0 win will put us through.”
Challenge Cup Semi-Final tickets will be available until face-off at 7pm on Wednesday. Fans can purchase from the Arena Box Office in person or by calling (028) 9073 9074 or online with Ticketmaster.ie.
Photo: Press Eye