The Stena Line Belfast Giants returned from their off-week with a bang, grinding out a 3-2 victory over the visiting Manchester Storm at The SSE Arena. Belfast got goals from Brian Ward, Jordan Smotherman, and Ciaran Long and 26 saves from Shane Owen on their way to the win.
The Giants remain in third place, two points behind the Cardiff Devils, on 52 points though the Welsh side have played two games less. The Sheffield Steelers remain in first place with 57 points from 43 games.
Shane Owen started in the Belfast net and posted 26 saves with the Giants missing Curtis Hamilton.
Just over half-way through a sluggish first period, Ryan Lowney and Cody Thompson dropped the glove the Giants’ zone in order to get both of their respective sides fired up. After that, the energy in the game started to flare up with both sides playing with a fast and physical edge.
It took a while, but Belfast finally opened the scoring at 18:23. Elgin Pearce worked the puck into the zone and hit Jordan Smotherman in the slot with a pass that he would roof past Matt Ginn to give the Giants in a 1-0 lead. The goal was Smotherman’s 11th on the season.
Shortly after that, Shane Owen maintained their early one-goal lead by stopping Tyson Fawcett on a penalty shot. Belfast would carry a 1-0 lead into the intermission with a 14-8 edge in shots.
Manchester Answers Back
Despite the Giants carrying play and generating quality chances for the majority of the second period, it would be the Storm who managed to put a puck in the back of the net first. At 37:15, Scott Simmonds got the puck at the point and wired a shot past a screened Shane Owen to knot the game at 1-1.
The score would remained tied at 1-1 after 40 minutes with the Giants carrying a 24-18 lead in shots on goal.
Edging Out The Win
Belfast would take the lead again in the third period. Shortly after failing to convert on a power-play, Liam Morgan moved the puck to the point to Kevin Raine who clapped a one-timer that Ciaran Long would deflect by a screened Ginn. The goal, which came against his former club, was Long’s second of the season.
The Giants would add some insurance late in the third period. With Dallas Ehrhardt in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, Brian Ward deflected a slap-pass from Patrick Mullen past Ginn. The goal was Ward’s 11th of the season. It was an important goal as Manchester brought the score to 3-2 just a few minutes later after scoring shortly after a Belfast penalty expired.
Belfast would manage to slam the door the rest of the way, grinding their way to a 3-2 victory.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 3-2 Manchester Storm
Player of the Game
#89 Ciaran Long (1 Goal + 1 Assist)
The Giants now travel to Nottingham face Panthers on Sunday 16th February – the first of four straight away games before returning home for the Guildford Flames double header on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th February. Tickets are available online now at ticketmaster.ie.