Giants set for 'classic battle'

Published Thursday, 02 February 2012
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The Belfast Giants are hoping to capitalise on the home advantage on Saturday night, when they double up for a league and Challenge Cup clash with the Cardiff Devils.

Giants set for 'classic battle'
Giants netminder Stephen Murphy is ready for action against the Devils. (© Michael Cooper)

It may seem like double the pressure for the Giants, but manager Todd Kelman has revealed the decision not to play an extra stand-alone Cup game was definitely tactical.

"Our travel is harder than every other team in the league, so we try to eliminate as many games as possible at this time of year," he explained.

"If we advance to the final, that'll add two more games to an already busy schedule and last season we ended up with a log jam of games in the final month of the regular season."

The Giants go into the game 2-1 down after the first leg of the Cup semi-final against the Devils in Cardiff, but the side are hoping they'll be boosted this time round by the Odyssey Arena support.

We doubled up the games last season and we won our semi-final and hopefully we can do the same thing again.

Todd Kelman, Belfast Giants

"From Christmas on, every game seems to be more important than the week before and our fans know when the big teams are coming to town," Kelman said.

"They want to see the Devils in Belfast, because they always bring with them passion, grit and determination - you're always going to get a hard-fought game at both ends of the ice when Belfast and Cardiff face off against each other.

"The Giants and Devils have had some memorable games over the years and Saturday will be another classic battle between two great teams."

But Giants netminder Stephen Murphy insists the side aren't feeling the pressure, as Saturday night's clash is just "another big game we have to win".

He faced 32 shots on goal from the Devils in the first leg last week, but his counterpart at the other end - former Giant Stevie Lyle - was kept busier, with 43 shots on target from the Giants.

Murph's not predicting as busy a night for either netminder this time round though.

"Cardiff's a much smaller ice surface, so it seems like anything from the blue line in is a good shot," he said.

"It's a very tough building to play in and they play a brand of hockey that suits their home rink - hopefully our skilled guys can use the bigger ice in Belfast to our advantage."

The Giants will be out for those all-important league points, but must also secure the win before the game goes to overtime to progress to the Challenge Cup final.

The Belfast Giants face the Cardiff Devils at the Odyssey Arena on Saturday February 4 at 7pm.

© UTV News
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