Giants look to give Stephen Murphy time off rink

Stephen Murphy of the Belfast Giants
Stephen Murphy of the Belfast Giants

Belfast Giants coach Paul Adey will consider giving netminder Stephen Murphy some time off this weekend ahead of the Challenge Cup final and end of season Play-offs.

Arguably the Scottish goalie has been the Most Valuable Player for the Elite League champions this season making clutch saves at big moments in key games.

Wednesday night’s 4-1 win over the Nottingham Panthers was Murphy’s 44th of the season but when the two sides meet again next Friday night in the first leg of the Challenge Cup Final at the Odyssey Arena it promises to be a more intense occasion than it was in midweek as both sides went through the paces of a league game that meant little to either.

The Giants travel to play the Fife Flyers on Saturday night followed by a home game against the Braehead Clan on Sunday afternoon and local netminder Andrew Dickson may get the call-up to start.

“We’re going to take a look at these two games this weekend and maybe give Stephen Murphy some time off.

“He’s played every game this season and has been superb for us making big stops at key moments in the big games but maybe we’ll give him a rest and make sure he’s ready for the final few weeks of the season,” explained Adey.

“It wasn’t the best of games on Wednesday and there was a lack of intensity and Nottingham’s goal is to have a good cup final against us and that’s the way they approached the game.

“They didn’t want to pick up injuries but we got the win a home and it was good to get that Sheffield defeat out of our system quickly.”

One of the players who has played a major role in the Giants success so far has been Chris Higgins. Nicknamed the ‘Belfast Datsyuk’ after Detroit Red Wings legend Pavel Datsyuk, his skill levels are amongst the highest ever seen in the Elite League and he’s been potent on a line with Evan Cheverie and Kevin Saurette and he grabbed a goal and two assists against the Panthers on Wednesday.

Adey added, “He so tricky with the puck and his movement on the ice is pretty good and he’s so difficult to track down and he knows where to put the puck in the offensive zone.”