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Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2012 at 12:02 pm
Following a hard-fought home shootout victory over the Nottingham Panthers, the Belfast Giants travelled to the East Riding of Yorkshire for their first encounter with Sylvain Clouthier’s Hull Stingrays.
This cross-conference encounter came on the back of Hull’s 3-1 defeat to the Dundee Stars at home the previous night. There was a delay to the opening faceoff after returning local boy David Phillips smashed a section of plexi-glass in warm up, the game began in earnest with the local side coming out at a high physical tempo.
And it was Hull who opened the scoring. Cale Tanaka finding an impossible backhanded bobbling shot that slipped between Stephen Murphy’s pad and post. The Giants netminder with an unfortunate moment to forget.
In a match beset by physicality from both sides, Ryan Hand and Adam Keefe undertook the first of the nights dances deep in the Hull zone, but a wrestling match along the plexi was all that took place to entertain the fans.
The Giants finished the first stanza the stronger and held that strength into the 2nd period. Less than 30 seconds had passed when a low shot from Will Colbert was saved by Ben Bowns in the Hull goal, but the young british netminder was still sprawled low and to the left when Andrew Fournier took the puck, wrapped it around the net and into the right side to level the scores.
In what was a long and event filled period the Stingrays attempted to further push the boundaries of the play. Jeff Smith causing havoc with his game behind the back of referee Andrew Carson.
Belfast thought they had made it 2-1 as a Fournier backhanded shot appeared to pass through the netting in the goal. Carson ruled no goal and Fournier’s frustration led to him sitting 10 minutes misconduct for Abuse of Official. Much to the delight of the home crowd.
The next shot on goal from the Giants brought ridicule from the home fans for the argument they caused over the phantom goal, but as they stood mocking, Will Colbert smashed the puck by Bowns leaving Carson in no doubt this time and the baying Hull crowd reaching quietly for their seats.
In a period peppered with various handbag encounters the Giants unsuccessfully, attempted to focus on the game and not the antics. But it was Daryl Lloyd who furthered the Giants lead as he picked up the puck on the ;eft hand boards, skating into the Hull zone, supported by Adam Keefe, only to wrist one himself past Bowns to make it 3-1 to the visitors.
Round two of Hand v Keefe took place centre ice after a charge from Sylvain Cloutier. Helmets and gloves cast asunder they eyed each other up for an eternity before a slew-foot from Hand took the Giants captain to the ice, awakening the the home crowd in a belief that their enforcer had one over on the visitors.
The final period further carried the theme of the high tempo physical encounter the previous two sessions had established. Punctuated by the third, and best, fight of the game. With a delayed roughing call already existing on Jeff Smith, he and Greg Stewart tussled tussled before throwing off the gloves in front of the Belfast goal. The Giants player receiving a cut to the head which took him from the remainder of the game, but shading the fight much to the delight of the modest travelling contingent.
The resulting 2 + 5 min penalty to Smith placed Belfast on a 5 on 3 powerplay thanks to an existing penalty to Hull captain Kurtis Dulle for holding the stick. The Giants made the best of this advantage by quickly cycling the puck to Noah Clarke who was given clear sight on goal, making no mistake as he placed the Giants 4-1 ahead with eight and half minutes remaining, effectively ending the competition and awarding the Giants another 2 road points.
On the physical encounter Coach Doug Christiansen said:
“We have Lloyd, Keefe and Stewart, guys who aren’t afraid to stick their noses in there, while our D were also really in there battling also with Sam Roberts and Will Colbert really working hard. We do have things to work on but I’m very pleased with this performance and the 2 points. Its a difficult place to come and get a result.”