There’s another big game live on FreeSports coming as Adam Keefe’s Belfast Giants prepare to play host to Guildford Flames, with two league points up for grabs.
To give us the lowdown, former Giants and Nottingham Panthers coach Paul Adey joined us to cast his expert on the two teams before he takes his seat in the booth with commentator Aaron Murphy at the SSE Arena.
Belfast and Guildford come into the game on the back of unbeaten weekends. How much can momentum play a part in the game we’re about to see?
Both teams will have a lot of confidence for this and they’ve both been scoring goals. When you’re scoring, a lot of guys are contributing which gets the confidence.
You have to say, both teams have some momentum. There’s such a difference in experience, with Belfast having way more top level experience in their team. Could that be a factor? Possibly, plus Giants have a bigger roster too.
Guildford are a dangerous team and have some players averaging a point a game, which at the Elite League level, is very good so you have two teams scoring a lot right now.
After a stop/start league campaign, how important was it for the Giants to do as well as they did at the weekend?
It was really important for Belfast to get those wins over the weekend and obviously, it was a must beating Milton Keynes. They would have expected to get four points against them at home.
In the first game, MK hung in thete, but Belfast’s depth allowed them to pull away, while they dominated them the whole game on Saturday.
It’s never easy to go to Coventry and get the points from there so that was a big win to keep the momentum going and they’ll be really happy with that.
Now they come up against a tricky test in Guildford and it won’t be easy for them.
You worked with Adam Keefe as a player from your own time at the Giants. Was he a player you identified would go on to do well as a coach so far?
Adam was my captain when I was there and a real leader and you always think there are certain players that have the possibility of becoming the coach.
He struck me as a guy who could go behind the bench and he commands the respect of the guys, which goes a long way. You still have a coach and he’s done well with that.
It’s a learning experience and after a year under his belt, he’ll feel a lot more confident, especially after a trophy win. It has its ups and downs, but he seems to coping with that well.
This is Guildford’s second season in the Elite League. How impressed have you been at how well they’ve taken to the higher level?
I have to say very impressed and you have to give their coach, Paul Dixon, a lot of credit for that.
I’ve been even more impressed that they had players wanted by other teams, but they managed to keep them and they opted to stay there for a reason.
The club clearly treats them well and they enjoy playing under Paul. As I said, they’re a tricky team with a lot of firepower from all over the team and that makes them very dangerous.
What do you think has been the key to Paul Dixon’s relative success so far?
Paul’s just a quality guy. I’m not in the room so I can’t pinpoint what his secret is, but he comes across as a fair guy and a good coach.
I played with him in the national team and he’s an easy going guy who doesn’t unravel, which can help a team, especially if he keeps his emotions in check.
He was a quality player and he’s learned a lot over the years, which he has taken that into his coaching career.
Who will be the key players?
There’s a few key guys for both teams, with John Dunbar and Kruise Reddick scoring a lot for Guildford right now, so those guys are hot.
Patrick Dwyer is the same at Belfast right now, as shown by winning the Elite League Player of the Week award.
How do see the game going?
I think the Giants could edge this one, but for me, it’s going to be a tight game. You just never know on the night and this league can bring some unexpected outcomes.
You just need to look at Milton Keynes after their two losses at Belfast, they get a good win over Nottingham Panthers so you just don’t know.
But I’m of the mind where I think Belfast could edge it.