The Elite League title race reaches its halfway point this weekend and back in September you would have gotten long odds on a top-two clash at Christmas between the Belfast Giants and Braehead Clan.
But that’s the festive dish that will be served up over the next two nights and these games, the first at the Odyssey Arena this evening with the return in Glasgow tomorrow, could be decisive in the race for the championship.
The Giants have a commanding seven point lead that could turn into double digits if things went their way while the Clan, with the other clubs just below them in the standings including Dundee, Sheffield and Nottingham cheering them on, could cut into that deficit and make the second half of the season much more interesting for the neutral.
Paul Adey’s side have been the one club that have shown any sort of consistently this season in a league which has more parity between the ten teams than ever before.
They went on a month long eight-game road trip and went 6-2 and so far this season at home they’ve lost only once in regulation to Coventry and to Cardiff in a penalty shoot-out.
“I think we’re a team that just wants to go out there and win every night. We’ve got some tough games coming up and I think our success so far has come because we’ve played well against the top teams.
“We’re very consistent in our play and if we continue to do that then we’ll be on the right side of a lot of results,” explained coach Adey.
The Clan got off to a slow start before really playing some tough aggressive hockey that saw them rise up the table.
They suffered a couple of recent defeats in games they’d have expected to win and this is the first time the two sides have met in the league this season having only played twice in the Challenge Cup group stages.
“Braehead are a well balanced team and a little more offensively minded than they were at the start of the season and I think that’s why they’re fighting it out at the top of the standings.”