3 in 3 a Tough Prospect for Short Benched Giants

How do you follow an October where the Belfast Giants picked up 20 of the 22 points available across all competitions? Shall we include the fact that those 20 points included 4 being taken from the Nottingham Panthers home and away, or that 12 of those points came on the road?

What about the added excitement that 4 of those points came in overtime just last weekend with Adam Keefe’s side having to show real strength of character despite being down on numbers?

Yeah, it’s been a good October for the Giants.

But it’s now in the past and the road run rolls on with November beginning in Scotland and 3 tough games in three tough nights.

Friday starts in Kirkaldy with the Flyers. The Giants are 1-1 in the Fife Ice Arena and have only picked up 1 win against Todd Dutiaume’s side in the 3 games played so far. Fife currently lead the League and this will be a 1st v 2nd battle with the winner taking top spot. Can the Giants unlock the ability of goal-keeper Shane Owen who has been one of the league’s MVPs in the opening 2 months?

On Saturday the men in Teal return to the Shopping Centre in Braehead to face the Clan. In Challenge Cup competition Blair Riley broke the hearts of the Purple Army with a game winning goal in the final seconds of their Challenge Cup match 3 weeks ago. Since then the Clan have settled into their home rink, from which they were absent for the opening month, and have started to pick up a number of scalps. Not least taking points from their Sister Club, the Nottingham Panthers in the NIC and the Sheffield Steelers in Sheffield (how much of an achievement that really is though?. well..).

Pete Russell has secured the services of Vaclav Stupka, whose trial form put him on the radar of a lot of big clubs. And Wednesday night’s battle against the Cardiff Devils, limiting the charging Champions to a single goal, proved that the Clan are a very different prospect now to what we witnessed early in the season.

3 games in 3 nights is concluded in the Dundee Ice Arena against Omar Pacha’s Stars. Dundee took the spoils in the Giants last visit to Tayside, a comprehensive 5-3 defeat marked what was a difficult slump for the Giants at the end of September. Since then only a narrow defeat to the Flames has prevented the Giants having a spotless record. Meanwhile that victory for the Stars remains one of only 2 regulation wins on their league haul.

Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story. In their last 5 games they have faced the MK Lightning, the Manchester Storm, the Nottingham Panthers and the Glasgow Clan twice (one of which entertainingly documented by the BBC). All of these games went the distance in regulation and the Stars forced overtime.

Yet only 1 of those OT games, the most recent against MK, has resulted in victory. Pacha’s side are competing, they just are yet to pull many W’s from that competition. As such they are not an easy prospect to face on the third night of 3 games.

We are yet to see how the Giants line up will have recovered and if some of those players on the physio bench are able to put the skates back on. Yet with these three games opening the month, the Devils and Panthers waiting next week, and the Continental Cup battle on the horizon, November is a tough prospect when following the success of the month past.

PODCAST: ROAD WARRIORS – Blair Riley, Adam Keefe, Aaron Murphy are all part of this weeks A View From The Bridge Podcast, Official Podcast of the Belfast Giants, part of Kingdom Of The Giants.

Friday – Fife Flyers v Belfast Giants, 7.30pm, Fife Ice Arena, Kirkaldy; Webcast

Saturday – Glasgow Clan v Belfast Giants, 7pm, Braehead Arena, Braehead;

Sunday – Dundee Stars v Belfast Giants, 6pm, Dundee Ice Arena, Dundee; Webcast

Words: Patrick Smyth         Audio: Simon Kitchen / AVFTB    Pictures: Adam Gouldson

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