The Stena Line Belfast Giants opened their home Elite League campaign with a win against the Nottingham Panthers. A shutout from Shane Owen and brace from Liam Morgan helped the Giants get back to winning ways. The win represented Belfast’s first in league play this season, as their record now sits at 1-1.
Giants Powerplay Strikes First
A big issue in Saturday’s loss to the Dundee Stars was the Giants inability to convert on any of their powerplay opportunities. However the Giants managed to put things right early in Sunday’s game.
At 9:13 of the first period, Liam Morgan’s deflected shot flew over goaltender Kevin Carr’s shoulder. Belfast would skate into the intermission with a 1-0 lead and a 19-9 lead on the shot clock.
The Giants carried their 1-0 into the second intermission after a hard-fought, back-and-forth second frame.
Goaltender Shane Owen stood tall in the second to help the Giants maintain their one-goal lead as the Panthers started to find their game. The Panthers fired eleven shots at Ward in the frame but he turned them all aside.
With under 10 seconds to go in the second period, Brian Ward was called for a five-minute tripping major after an awkward knee-on-knee collision. Ward was also booted from the game and Liam Morgan served the penalty.
The five-minute power play presented the Panthers a golden opportunity to finally break through and tie the game at 1-1. Just over a minute into their power play, the Panthers took a two-minute penalty of their own. After a minute of four-on-four action, the Panthers took yet another penalty, ultimately killing off virtually all of their five-minute power play on their own.
Nottingham’s poor discipline continued as they took a tripping minor in the defensive zone, giving the Giants a four-on-three power play. Despite good puck movement, the Giants weren’t able to get the puck by Carr, who robbed Patryk Wronka with an incredible diving stick save.
Late Game Insurance
After killing off a two-minute penalty, the Giants finally added some much-needed insurance. At 54:14, Lewis Hook fed Liam Morgan who ripped a shot past Carr for his second goal of the game.
In the final minute of the game, Curtis Hamilton ripped a shot from centre ice into an empty Nottingham net to give the Giants a 3-0 lead. The empty-netter extended Hamilton’s goal-scoring streak to four games.
A key part of Sunday’s victory was a 26-save shutout performance from Shane Owen. It was his first shutout as a member of the Giants.
On the other hand, Sunday’s match represented yet another situation in which the Giants ran into a red-hot opposing goalie. Just one day after losing due to a 65-save performance, Panthers’ goaltender Kevin Carr turned aside 49 of 51 shots the Giants put on the net.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 3-0 Nottingham Panthers
Giants Player of the Game
#21 Liam Morgan (2 Goals)
The Giants return to Challenge Cup action next weekend with back-to-back games against the Fife Flyers – first on Saturday in Belfast, face-off 7pm before Sunday’s game in Scotland, face-off 6:30pm. Tickets are now available online now through ticketmaster.ie.