Belfast Giants coach Adam Keefe says his team are working on getting their consistency back as he looks ahead to a tough weekend against Cardiff Devils.
It will be the first meetings of the season between the two since the play-off final that saw Cardiff Devils snatch that honour, a week after Belfast Giants swiped the league crown from under their noses.
But an inconsistent campaign so far has meant Keefe is working hard to try and regain the sort of displays his team showed in the Champions Hockey League.
“We had a good pre-season and a decent outing in the CHL, but something of a let-down in our Challenge Cup campaign, which wasn’t the way we wanted to get out of the gates,” he told this week’s British Ice Hockey podcast.
“It’s still a work in progress but we knew there would be growing pains, with a group including 13 new imports and that many new faces to the league and adjusting to the way we play.
“We snuck into the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup by the skin of our teeth with 17 seconds to spare. That being said, we’ve tried to refocus and regain composure and it’s been a bit up and down.
“It’s about trying to get back to the way we played before and proved that we could in the CHL, but it’s going to take one big period at a time and we know it’s going to be great challenge to get this thing back on track against a big rival in Cardiff.
“I expect it to be really tight and that’s what I’m prepping my guys for, a real close knit affair defensively at both ends and who makes the least mistakes will have the most success.
“We’ll have to do a good job about shutting them down and it’s something we’ve been working on this week.”
It was a big week for the Keefe family when Keefe’s older brother, Sheldon, was appointed the new head coach of NHL side Toronto Maple Leafs after the dismissal of former Whitley Warrior Mike Babcock earlier this week.
And Keefe couldn’t have been more prouder of his sibling and reckons Sheldon’s move to the “The Big Show” has been a long time coming.
He added: “It’s exciting times. My parents boarded a flight at 5am from Toronto to Arizona to watch Sheldon running the bench for the first time in the NHL.
“It’s been a long time coming for him and I’m extremely proud and inspired by what he’d done since he started coaching.
“He made it to the NHL as a player and got injured at the age of 23/24 years old with a torn ACL and began his coaching career at 25 and has worked his way up through the ranks and has had great success in the AHL in the last four or five years.
“The fact he’s a Brampton, Ontario kid coaching his first game in the NHL on the Maple Leafs bench makes it extra special and for the family as well.”
PODCAST: Listen to the full interview with Adam Keefe on this week’s British Ice Hockey podcast