The Stena Line Belfast Giants’ pursuit of a third-consecutive Challenge Cup championship got off to a roaring start. The home team dominated the visiting Glasgow Clan to the tune of a 6-1 victory.
The Giants got contributions offensively from Brian Ward, Jordan Smotherman, Curtis Hamilton, Liam Morgan, Ciaran Long and Curtis Leonard. While netminder Shane Owen was sharp when he had to be – the final shots were 38-23 in favour of the Giants.
Saturday night’s win represented the first match the Giants played against a domestic opponent this season. The big win set the tempo not only for the Challenge Cup, but the league as a whole. Belfast was sharp and energetic all game, showing the league that they’re ready to defend their titles.
Championship Banner Unveiling
The Giants opened the night by unveiling their 2018/19 Elite League Championship banner to an enthusiastic crowd at The SSE Arena. The newest banner becomes the 11th to be raised to the rafters in team history.
A Tale Of Two Teams
The Giants completely outmatched the Clan in the first period. The score after the first period was 1-0 in favour of the Giants, though it easily could have been larger had it not been for strong goaltending from Patrick Killeen. The Giants peppered Killeen with 16 shots in the first and didn’t allow the Clan to have a legitimate scoring chance until nine minutes into the frame.
Brian Ward opened the scoring at 13:54, burying a rebound after Lewis Hook was robbed by Killeen on a short-handed breakaway. Bobby Farnham was sitting in the penalty box after taking a charging penalty. He skated around like a wrecking ball, throwing three big hits in the offensive zone in one shift.
The Floodgates Open
Killeen couldn’t keep the Clan in the game for long. The Giants stormed into the second period, scoring two quick goals to take complete command of the game. Just over two minutes into the fame, Jordan Smotherman fired a puck past Killeen to double the lead. Soon after, Liam Morgan fed a cross-ice pass to a streaking Curtis Hamilton who tapped it in to make the match 3-0.
The Giants briefly gave the Clan some life mid-way through the second period when they got themselves into penalty trouble. Belfast got caught with too many men on the ice and then the issue was compounded when Patryk Wronka got called for an unsportsmanlike penalty for arguing with the official. The Giants defended the five-on-three penalty admirably, but Scott Pitt got the Clan on the board at 31:07.
That was as close at Glasgow would get. The Giants would regain their three-goal lead at 37:34 when Liam Morgan found the back of the net. Wronka made up for his unsportsmanlike penalty, picking up the primary assist on Morgan’s goal.
Giants Seal Win With Final Period Double
The Giants added another couple of goals in the third period. At 47:49, Ciaran Long buried a Brian Ward rebound, then, at 59:01, Curtis Leonard blasted a slap shop past an exhausted Killeen. They would end up cruising through the rest of the third period on the way to a 6-1 victory in front of a thrilled crowd.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 6-1 Glasgow Clan
Player of the Game
#24 Brian Ward
The Giants will open up Elite Ice Hockey League play on Sunday night (Sept. 15) with a match in Manchester against the Storm, face-off 5:30pm.
The home games continue next Saturday (Sept. 21) and Sunday (Sept. 22) when the Giants return home to The SSE Arena to face the Dundee Stars and Nottingham Panthers respectively. Tickets are now available online now through ticketmaster.ie.