ICE HOCKEY: Packed schedule offers Belfast Giants chance to hit back

The Belfast Giants will be aiming to make up some ground in the Elite League this weekend
The Belfast Giants will be aiming to make up some ground in the Elite League this weekend

The busy holiday schedule for the Belfast Giants begins on Friday night with the first of a doubleheader against the Coventry Blaze at the Odyssey Arena, which will be followed by a trip to the Edinburgh Capitals on Sunday.

Three games in three nights is a tough assignment at any stage of the season but with Steve Thornton’s side looking to make up ground on the four teams currently above them in the Elite League standings, grabbing as many points as possible is a matter of urgency.

After halting a three game losing streak last Sunday with a 6-3 win over Nottingham Panthers, Thornton is hoping that level of commitment carries over to this weekend.

“That was a big win for us in terms of confidence,” he said.

“We’re still there or thereabouts in the standings, we’ve dropped a couple of games that we’d definitely like to have back.

“We know how important it is to win on your home ice especially against sides you’re competing against for the titles and we’ve got some huge games coming up against Braehead and Sheffield after this weekend, so this is a really important stretch for us.”

Eight games in 15 days could well determine if the Giants can maintain a title challenge this season with doubleheaders against Coventry, Braehead and Sheffield, who lead the league and are eight points ahead of the Giants going into this weekend’s action.

Thornton added: “The one thing you don’t want to do is have to rely on other teams, you want to control your own destiny.

“I do think there will be a lot more speed bumps for the other teams based on what I’ve seen so far, there have been a lot of strange results and that’s the way the league is this year from top to bottom its very even.

“It comes down to bounces, to refereeing, to goaltending and to special teams to win games and we have to find a way to get all of those things going but I agree this is a stretch of games were we can regain control of our own destiny.

“If we don’t take advantage then we become reliant on other teams and that’s a position we don’t want to find ourselves in.”