The Stena Line Belfast Giants nearly completed an epic comeback against the Guildford Flames on Saturday night. Down 4-1 head into the third, Belfast stormed back with three goals in the final frame to send the game to overtime. Unfortunately, the Flames would end up winning in overtime, resulting in a weekend split at The SSE Arena.
The defeat sees the Giants remain in third place in the Elite League standings. The Giants are now two points behind the Cardiff Devils, on 58 points though the Welsh side have played three games less. The Sheffield Steelers remain in first place with 63 points from 47 games.
Just like on Friday night, it would be the Guildford Flames who opened the scoring. After both teams exchanged penalties in a rough and spirited first half of the first period, the Flames converted on a man-advantage at 12:20 when Ben Davies ripped a shot from the right face-off circle through Shane Owen.
Guildford would carry that 1-0 lead into the first intermission, though it was the Giants who held a heavy 13-4 lead in shots on goal through 20 minutes of play.
Digging A Hole
The Flames would extend their lead to 2-0 early in the second period. Just moments after a penalty to Ciaran Long had expired, Brett Ferguson fired the puck from behind the net to Jamie Crooks in the slot who tapped it between Owen’s five-hole. Then, at 27:31, the Flames would pad their lead to 3-0 when Ferguson threw a cross-zone saucer pass to Crooks on a two-on-one who roofed the puck over a sprawling Owen.
After going down 3-0, an irate Adam Keefe called a time-out to regroup the team. Almost immediately after, the Giants responded, cutting the lead to 3-1. Curtis Hamilton fired a puck on target and Elgin Pearce crashed the net and got a stick on it to re-direct it by goaltender Travis Fullerton. Unfortunately for the Giants, their momentum was given away when Ben Lake took a two-minute penalty for slashing and the Flames converted on the power-play to make the score 4-1.
Belfast would go into the second intermission down 4-1 despite holding an 18-12 edge in shots on goal.
The Giants would start to mount a rally in the third period. At 47:05, Jordan Smotherman picked up the puck behind the net, did a spin move to work past a Flames defender, and shoved the puck in between Fullerton’s pad and the post from right in close.
A few minutes later, Patrick Mullen would bring the score to within one goal. Ben Lake carried the puck out front behind the net and fired a shot on net and, after Fullerton had made a few saves, it bounced out in front to Mullen who fired a rebound into the yawning cage to make the score 4-3.
The comeback would be completed with under a minute to play. With Shane Owen pulled for the extra attacker, a Flames defender knocked the puck over the glass for a two-minute delay of game penalty. On the ensuing power-play, Patrick Mullen wired a shot from the point and Brian Ward slammed in the rebound to knot the game at 4-4.
Comeback Spoiled In Overtime
The score would remain tied at the end of 60 minutes, so the team headed to a sudden-death, three-on-three overtime period to determine a winner. Two minutes into the overtime frame, all three Giants got caught in the offensive zone, leading to a Guildford two-man breakaway. Braylon Shmyr and John Dunbar would pass the puck back and forth and Dunbar would roof the game-winner over a diving Owen.
Stena Line Belfast Giants 4-5 Guildford Flames (After Overtime)
Player of the Game
#15 Elgin Pearce (1 Goal)
The Giants return to action on Friday night at The SSE Arena with an Elite League clash against the Fife Flyers. The following weekend, Friday 13th and Saturday 14th March, sees the Nottingham Panthers visit Belfast for back-to-back games. Tickets are available online now at ticketmaster.ie.