Belfast Giants coach Steve Thornton admits his side has reached a ‘critical’ juncture of their season as they prepare for a weekend on the road against the Sheffield Steelers and Edinburgh Capitals.
The current losing streak reached four on Wednesday night when Cardiff dumped them out of the Challenge Cup at the quarter-final stage and with a seven point gap to the Elite League leading Braehead Clan, the Giants can’t really afford to lose anymore ground.
“It’s been a struggle to find the consistency this season. We’ve had injuries and guys playing hurt and in a league that is as even as this one you need that high level of performance every night,” said Thornton.
“We won eight of nine games and I think we expected it to come easy after that but without going on the ice and doing the little things to get the job done you can’t expect to win. Now we’ve put ourselves in a position that with Braehead only having a small number of games left against teams in our conference, we cannot afford to drop many more points.”
At the moment it is up to the players to dig themselves out of the hole they’re in and fight through the injuries and the perceived injustice of some of the officiating decisions that have gone against the Giants in recent games.
Thornton said: “The little things I’m talking about are blocking shots, a higher compete level and hitting harder and that’s what we were doing during the winning streak that we enjoyed over the holiday period and we have to get back to that, we have to out work the opposition.”
On a positive note, with five teams chasing the league title, two wins this weekend and the table can look very different on Monday morning.
“When you look at it from a perspective of the adversity that we’ve gone through this year, to be still in a position to win a title, there are a lot of positives to be taken from that,” he added.
“It’s in the players hands, I’m asking a lot of them and regardless of injuries or the officials there is an expectation of winning and going into this weekend we know what we have to do.”