Welcome once again to “The Belfast Beat”.
This article is purely a review of the season so far for the Giants. It’s of course purely my observations and not that of the Belfast Giants themselves. Your own views are welcomed with open arms. So with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s review the 2018-19 season for the boys in teal.
As we enter the packed Christmas and New Year schedule, the Giants currently find themselves perched atop of the Elite League standings, a couple of points clear of defending champions Cardiff. Cardiff have two games in hand on the Giants at the time I write this piece, but games in hand have to be won if you want to claw back a deficit. Still, at the moment the Giants are sitting rather pretty as they chase their first EIHL title since they ran away with the 2013-14 title under Doug Christiansen.
What plusses have we drawn this season then? For me, the biggest reason why the Giants have been so good is the form of Tyler Beskorowany. The former Dallas Stars draft pick was courted by numerous clubs after the sad demise of Edinburgh for whom he featured with in the latter part of 2017-18. But Adam Keefe and Steve Thornton got their man, just like the good ol’ Canadian Mountie, and what a signing he has been. It’s safe to admit that Jackson Whistle’s departure to Sheffield hasn’t affected the Giants whatsoever. “Besko” has been consistently good, so much so that legend that is Stephen Murphy has seen very little ice time. One can only hope “Beskomania” is in teal for a long time.
Another plus for me is that team has spread out its scoring; they are not relying on one sharp shooter to fire them towards what we hope is glory. Five players have hit the double figure mark; with Darcy Murphy and captain Blair Riley leading the way with 18 league goals each. After an injury-hit first season, Dustin Johner is finding the net frequently whilst you always know that David Rutherford is going to be good for a number of goals. AHL standard acquisitions Kyle Baun and Francis Beauvillier have also chipped in with a number of goals between them as well. Even though Beauvillier has departed the Odyssey today (Thursday); he’s made a valuable contribution.
Like most sides, the Giants have had to deal with a number of injuries. One of the most noticeable absences has been veteran winger Colin Shields. The GB internationalist suffered a horrendous eye injury in the early part of the campaign, but he’s now back on the ice after making a superb recovery and it can’t be too long before we see that famous number 19 back in the line-up. “Sheds” is part of the teal fabric and I’m sure Coach Keefe is glad to see him back in training and soon ready for selection.
If I had to moan about anything is that sometimes the Giants have seemed a bit “leggy” in games. Perhaps the mammoth road trip had something to do with that, eh? When you’re on the road for as long as what the Giants were, you kinda miss your own bed and surroundings as you’re constantly on the move from one away barn to another. But with the majority of the second half on home ice, perhaps that trip might prove not too bad at all especially if the Holy Grail is brought back to Northern Ireland.
The team are chasing four honours at the moment, and few can bet that they won’t end up with nothing. This side is good with a good, solid backbone right the way through itself. If anyone can stop the Devils making it a three-peat; then the Giants class of 2018-19 can.
In closing, if it was graded as a school report then the Giants would get an A-: almost perfection. Thanks for reading.