The Belfast Giants face the Hull Stingrays at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday night looking to keep the pressure on the Nottingham Panthers at the top of the Elite League standings.
Four points separate the sides with 15 games of the regular season remaining and as the weekends pass so does the Giants margin for error becomes less.
They have two head-to-head meetings with the Panthers still to come at home in the middle of March but in order to make that a potentially title deciding weekend Doug Christiansen’s side need to take care of their own business and recently that hasn’t been automatic.
They lost two points on the Panthers last weekend following an embarrassing home defeat to Braehead and the Stingrays and a road trip to Cardiff on Sunday will provide another stern test but Christiansen is remaining defiant.
“We don’t have to worry about what Nottingham does, we only have to worry about ourselves,” he said.
“As long as we still have to play Nottingham twice and we are four points behind them then our destiny is very much in our own hands. We need to make sure that on Saturday night against Hull we come out with the intensity level that we did against Edinburgh last Saturday night and if we do that hopefully we’ll have a positive result.”
Last time Hull were at the Odyssey the Giants produced a superb opening 20 minutes and built a comfortable lead only to take penalties in the second period that allowed the Stingrays and in particular leading scorer Jeremy Tendler to come storming back to tie the game at 4-4. It took a third period winner from Craig Peacock to eventually see off their challenge.
Christiansen added: “The one thing Hull have is their ability to score goals. Tendler is obviously a gifted goal scorer and Jason Silverthorn is a talented offensive player.
“We have to sustain offensive pressure and not give up those chances and if we do that we’ll have success.”
The Giants have had decent success in Cardiff in recent seasons.
A four-point weekend could see them make up some ground as the Panthers have two tough ties against Coventry and third place Sheffield.