The Belfast Giants return to Elite League action on Friday night with the first of a doubleheader against the Coventry Blaze at the Odyssey Arena this weekend.
With 13 games remaining in the chase for the Elite League title, only two points separate the Nottingham Panthers and Giants although the gap between the sides was more clearly evident in the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final on Wednesday night as the Panthers ran out 5-1 winners.
“First and foremost through the first 40 minutes of the game I felt while we hadn’t played our best but neither had they and trailing 2-1 we would have taken that going into the second leg.
“Both teams looked tired, many of the players from both sides had been away with the GB team at the Olympic qualifiers in Latvia and that involved a lot of travel and meant both sides were a little sluggish.
“But in the final period they upped the anti and we made some mistakes, sometimes they happen and we were unlucky that from a rolling puck that bounced over a stick they got their third goal.
“After that we started to press and gave away a shorthanded said coach Doug Christiansen.
Anything is of course possible in the return clash later this month but realistically Christiansen’s side are now left to chase two trophies and with the Panthers, on paper at least, expected to claim maximum points from their home games against Braehead and Fife, there is little room for error against a Blaze.
Christiansen added, “We need to find a way to get into a groove at home especially against Coventry. Every game except one has been close so we have to put in a good performance.”