Victory in Coventry Closes Out Giants' Injury-Stricken Road Swing
A seriously short-benched Stena Line Belfast Giants emerged from the Skydome in Coventry with 2 ViaPlay Elite Ice Hockey League points on Sunday evening, closing out a gruelling month on the road with a 3-5 victory.
The Giants fell 2-0 behind in the first period before goals from Will Cullen and Lewis Hook tied the game in the second. The Blaze struck back in the third for a 3-2 lead before an equaliser from Darik Angeli and a double from Steve Owre sealed the win.
Sean Norris, who had dressed on Saturday night in Guildford, was absent from the Giants lineup, further compounding Adam Keefe’s injury woes. He was once again left without the services of Kevin Raine, Chad Butcher, Tyler Soy, Sam Ruopp, and Mark Cooper through injury, while David Gilbert didn’t travel due to illness.
Nathanael Halbert’s early holding penalty at 1:12 provided an early power play opportunity for Belfast, but the Blaze did well to disrupt possession in the zone.
Alex Forbes’ high snipe from the right circle was shouldered by Giants goalie Jackson Whistle, but Nathan Ripley hacked away in the ensuing scramble in front to hand the hosts a lead at 7:12. (1-0)
Belfast turned away their first kill of the evening when Scott Conway sat for tripping at 8:27, but Colton Yellow Horn doubled the Blaze’s lead at 11:58, picking up a rebound from Garrett Johnston’s one timer at the point. (2-0)
Ciaran Long threatened Blaze goalie Paavo Holsa short handed as Conway returned to the box for hooking at 12:20, and after serving his time, a breakaway from Conway was denied by Holsa back at full strength.
The Belfast Giants found their stride after the first intermission when Will Cullen stepped off the blue line and struck from the mid slot at 27:08 off a pass from the returning Lewis Hook. (2-1)
Then, less than two minutes later, Hook was the man on the spot for the equaliser as the Giants swarmed in the Blaze zone at 28:45. (2-2)
The second period power break was a welcome sight for the fragmented Blaze, who set about reorganising themselves.
Radek Vesely’s hooking penalty on Will Cullen sent Belfast onto an unsuccessful power play at 34:57, but Adam Keefe will have been delighted with a resurgent period against the odds as the sides headed in at the break.
Blaze forward Kim Tallberg dealt a blow to the Giants comeback attempt at 40:59, grabbing the puck from the air and dropping it to the deck before flicking it home past Whistle from the edge of the crease. (3-2)
The Giants survived a crucial 5-on-3 penalty kill as a soft roughing call on Darik Angeli at 42:45 was followed by a slashing penalty on Gabe Bast for a skirmish after the whistle at 42:57.
Back at full strength, Angeli took out his frustration on goal; punching home an unlikely Giants equaliser at 48:36. (3-3)
The ice began to tilt away from Coventry as they faced a 5-on-3 kill of their own after calls on Ross Venus (delay of game, 50:56) and Brady Norrish (interference, 51:09) in quick succession. After a shaky start to their power play, David Goodwin found Steve Owre for the Giants’ go-ahead goal at 52:27. (3-4)
Angeli returned to the box for interference at 52:31, but Belfast’s kill unit staved off the threat.
Blaze coach Danny Stewart called a time out with just over 2 minutes to go to leave the net empty and ice the extra skater. There were heart stopping moments in front of a sprawling Jackson Whistle as the hosts searched in vain for the goal to force overtime, but Steve Owre sent the puck into the empty cage at 59:35 to seal a remarkable Giants victory. (3-5)
Teal Army, we’re coming home! The Stena Line Belfast Giants return to The SSE Arena, Belfast next weekend for a doubleheader against the Manchester Storm on Saturday 3rd December (7:00pm) and Sunday 4th December (4:00pm). Tickets are on sale HERE!