Riley: We have to do our part

Riley helped deliver a league title to Belfast last season (PHOTO: William Cherry/Press Eye)

Belfast Giants captain Blair Riley has called on his team to win their final two games as they face a nervy final regular season weekend.

Giants need a favour from either Milton Keynes Lightning or Coventry Blaze against Cardiff Devils as well as win their two home games, starting against Fife Flyers if they are to win their first title since 2014.

And Riley admitted there was a mix of emotions as the title race took a couple more twists to keep them in it last week, after they lost at Manchester Storm last Friday then rivals Cardiff were beaten at Dundee Stars.

“These are the exciting games that you play for,” he said. “Obviously having the possibility of winning the league is exciting so we have to do our part and want to put on a good show for the fans.

“It’s been neck and neck for the most part and it’s a little out of our hands.  All we can do is keep winning and hope we get some help from somewhere.

“If Cardiff wins out, fair play to them.  It’s been a great title race, especially for the fans and it’s been a while since we were in the thick of things, but it would mean everything to this group to come out on top.

“Last week was a mix of emotions.  There’s no gimmes in this league and every team is playing for something at this late stage.

“People may not have thought the results went the way they did, but fortunately for us, Cardiff’s loss in Dundee put us back in the mix and here we are.”

Riley has already lifted the Challenge Cup this season (PHOTO: David Williams)

Riley also paid tribute to team-mate Colin Shields, who announced his decision to retire at the end of the season.

And the Giants skipper, who lifted the Challenge Cup three weeks ago, is keen to lift the Elite League championship trophy for him and others who may move on this summer.

He added: “Colin’s been a great team-mate in my time here and into a great friend.  I was a little caught off guard by the announcement earlier this week.

“He deserves all the accolades and respect he gets, not just from Belfast, but from all over the league and he’s an ambassador for the sport in this country and has probably inspired a lot of young people to play for the career he’s had.

“We’ve had a few discussions with some guys in the room who are maybe moving on, one way or another, so it would be nice to send them off on a positive note like this.

“We’ve had such a great team this year, it would be really special to get it over the line and end the way we think we should.  As for Colin, it’s been a pleasure to play with him.”

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