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Belfast Giants winning performances heighten expectations of trophy haul

Belfast Giants ace David Rutherford celebrates scoring against Sheffield Steelers in the Elite Ice Hockey League game at the SSE Arena, Belfast in January. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye.

BELFAST Giants head coach Adam Keefe insists that his team's sense of togetherness as much as their playing ability have heightened expectations that a trophy could be on its way to the city after three barren seasons.

Four wins in a row - three of them achieved against the traditionally tougher sides in the Elite League in the shape of Sheffield and Nottingham - have boosted confidence going into a particularly busy weekend.

For the first time in the campaign, the Giants face a triple-header, with two home games against Coventry Blaze, starting tonight at the SSE Arena followed by a trip to the Guildford Flames on Sunday evening.

However, Keefe has been buoyed by his team's performances in recent weeks and especially the reaction when Sebastian Sylvestre scored the all-important goal against the Nottingham Panthers last Saturday night with 22 seconds remaining.

"It was a great moment and it reminded me of us scoring a late goal in Nottingham when we went on to win the title seven years ago." said the Canadian.

"You saw the reaction of the guys on the bench when Seb scored - everyone was hugging each other and this team deserves a trophy so hopefully we can deliver that."

"They are a group of guys who like each other, work hard and play well together and the work started in the summer.

"Along with (head of operations) Steve (Thorton), I sat down in many meetings then to discuss the way forward and what sort of players we needed to sign.

"These guys have made me look good and they play with such an intensity that we got into penalty trouble earlier in the season.

"But we still need to improve and Coventry showed what they can do to us earlier in the season (in a 6-1 win) so we need to be at our best."

Meanwhile, Sylvestre has been named the Elite League's player-of-the-week after his four goals in two games last weekend against Nottingham.

The result got the Giants to within five points of the Cardiff Devils as Keefe's men extended their recent good run of form to six victories in their last seven.

Sylvestre spoke of his delight and gave an insight into the goal that raised the roof on Saturday night as they overcame the Panthers.

"I'm delighted to be given this (accolade) but I'm much happier with the four-point weekend we got against a really good team." Sylvestre said.

"For the winner on Saturday, I've been playing with (Brendan) Connolly and he's good when he does his thing and he has great vision.

"We've been on a roll and it's all about winning those games. We've got a big weekend of three games in three days and if we play they way we are, the chances of all the points are on our side with the four-point weekend we got against a really good team."

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