This weekend it is the Stena Line Belfast Giants vs Cardiff Devils for the first time this season with back to back games in Wales.
Saturday (7pm) and Sunday (4pm) at the Viola Arena sets up two mouth watering clashes as the top two from last season go head-to-head. Both games will be broadcast live online by Cardiff’s Ice Time TV.
In fact, in each of the previous three seasons – the Stena Line Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils have either finished 1st or 2nd in all nine Elite League competitions. The Sheffield Steelers Challenge Cup win of 2016/17 is the only occasion Cardiff of Belfast have not picked up a trophy in that time.
The trophy count in that time is edged in the Devils favour with the Welsh side picking up five – the Elite League in 2016/17 & 2017/18, the Playoffs in 2017/18 & 2018/19 as well as the Challenge Cup in 2016/17.
The Giants can boast three trophies in that time – a first Elite League title in five seasons in 2018/19 as well as back-to-back Challenge Cup victories in 2017/18 and 2018/19.
“I expect high intensity games,” said Giants Head Coach Adam Keefe ahead of this weekend’s double header. “Anytime we face the Cardiff Devils, there is a little bit more intensity level, I find, and I expect Saturday and Sunday to be no different.”
“It is a big weekend for us and a great challenge for us to go into Cardiff’s home and try to take points out of it.”
This weekends’ games continue the Giants six game road stretch before coming back to Belfast for the ‘Retro Games’ on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th December against the Sheffield Steelers – when the organisation will be celebrating their 20th anniversary season at The SSE Arena.
“Going on the road is good for the team in the sense that they are together. It is a great team building experience. It tests our character and our will to win.”
The Giants are still within touching distance of the leaders and currently lie fifth in the Elite League standings on 18 points following 15 games and are five points behind the first placed Glasgow Clan who have played two games more.
Though with the Giants currently on a run of four losses – this weekend gives the team a chance to respond against one of the league’s best sides.
“We are very aware that so far this season we have not been consistent enough and it has not been good enough. We are looking for an opportunity now to turn that around.”
In the early part of this week – the Giants made roster changes in releasing Jean Dupuy and Jesse Forsberg while bringing in David Goodwin ahead of this weekends’ games in Cardiff. Goodwin will go straight into the lineup leaving Coach Keefe with selection choices to make before the puck drops in Cardiff.
“Releasing players is not something to celebrate and it is something we do not feel good about. Though we feel we needed to improve the team.”
“We are looking for a response. These players are proud hockey players want to win and I expect them to show up on Saturday ready to go and compete for a full 60.”
Next at home for the Giants is the Sheffield Steelers double header on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th December at The SSE Arena, Belfast – tickets are now on sale at Ticketmaster.ie.