Thornton demands improvement from Giants

Belfast Head of Hockey Operations, Steve Thornton, wants the Giants to put a disappointing year behind them by challenging on all fronts next season.

A fourth place finish in the Elite League, coupled with a quarter-final exit in the play-offs and a Challenge Cup semi-final defeat have left Thornton frustrated at his team’s failure to deliver success.

“When you set expectations at the beginning of the season of winning a trophy and you do not come home with one – you have to take a look back and I do think there was more in the tank for us,” said Thornton.

“There were a lot of positives – a lot of guys had good seasons and we were two or three wins away from winning the league.

“It makes us more motivated for next season and the expectations here in Belfast will never change – we want silverware.”

Thornton has already been planning for the new season with Head Coach Derrick Walser as they look to build a team capable of winning trophies.

“It started months ago,” he added. “Throughout the whole season you are monitoring the guys you have, players around the league and then trying to find an equation that will work and make you better – because the league is getting better and we need to be ahead of the curve and not behind it.

“I think speed is the key. Speed kills and we were missing it at times this year and our team, in general, needed more commitment.

“We were a pretty team to watch, but I thought we were a bit perimeter so we need to get a bit more gritty.

“The learning curve for Derrick is done. He knows the league, he knows the players and he has an idea of who he wants and it can be his team.

“We are having constant chats everyday about what he wants his line-up to look like to give him the best chance to win and that is what I need to do.

“He is a big believer in team speed and that’s what we are looking for.

“We will be starting in a better position because we have a good core of guys in place, however changes are still needed as, when you do not win a trophy, you have to make changes to help us progress and move forward.

“We need to win – without a doubt the fans here in Belfast and the Odyssey Trust expect to have a winning team.

“Our fans deserve to be entertained and we will expect our guys to come here and win.”

(Image permission: Andy Gibson)

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