Belfast’s quick start pinned the Devils in their own zone from the drop, with Mark Cooper and Steve Owre testing Cardiff goalie Ben Bowns early.
The buzzword throughout the opening ten was ‘tempo’, as two league heavyweights began to trade blows in a flowing period with little stoppage. But, to labour the boxing analogy, the judges would have been unanimous in handing the opening round to the Giants.
Colby McAuley found Ben Lake who ripped a ferocious wrister past Bowns at 7:34, opening the scoring from the mid-slot. (0-1)
Cardiff’s defencemen could not keep the Giants behind their blue line, and Giants’ Captain David Goodwin made them pay with a second at 14:39. (0-2)
The Devils were handed a gift from the hockey gods in the shape of a Giants too many men call at 18:23, served by David Goodwin, but it was nullified when Cardiff defenceman Sam Jardine was called for a trip at 19:12.
Brodie Dupont’s message to his Cardiff Devils in the period break had clearly landed, as the hosts emerged and set about imposing themselves in the Giants’ zone.
The temperature of a high-intensity game boiled over near the half-hour mark, as a slew of hits in the neutral zone landed Giants defenceman Mark Garside in the box for hooking at 28:44. However the Giants, missing Kevin Raine and Sam Ruopp from their defensive corps, stood tall in their second outing of the night.
For all of Cardiff’s offensive pressure in the middle period, the next goal came courtesy of Giants ace Scott Conway, who battled through a 1 on 3 in the Devils’ zone and picked up his own rebound at 36:18. (0-3)
Will Cullen’s hooking call in front of goal at 39:04 bridged the period, with Cardiff opening the third with 1:04 on the man advantage. And it paid off as Trevor Cox capitalised on a scramble in front of goal which pulled Whistle wide at 40:34. (1-3)
Brody Reid’s tripping penalty just 26 seconds later was fruitless for the Giants’ power play unit, and again at 44:55 when Riley Brandt sat for charging following a big hit on Belfast forward Ben Lake.
A well-worked play off the draw in the Giants’ zone saw Blake Thompson strike the Devils to within a goal from the left circle at 49:31. (2-3)
Adam Keefe’s top line responded quickly when Mark Cooper’s puck across the crease found David Goodwin at the back door for his second of the game at 50:42. (2-4)
Dupont called Ben Bowns to the bench with just over 2 minutes remaining and promptly called a time-out at the next break in play, but the Belfast Giants shut it down in the zone and loaded the bus to Guildford with 2 points secured.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants continue their road trip on Saturday with a visit to the Guildford Flames at 6:00pm. They return home to The SSE Arena, Belfast to take on Jeff Mason’s Dundee Stars in league action on Wednesday 26th October at 7:00pm. Tickets are on sale HERE!