Ara Nazarian, Travis Brown and Matt McLeod also found the net for Adam Keefe’s side, who were backed by a strong start from Great Britain international Jackson Whistle in goal, in the first game of their exhibition double-header with the Scottish side.
It was an opening period with plenty of chances at either end as Clan netminder Jake Kielly had to make two back-to-back saves to deny McLeod, then he turned away a chance from Oliver Cooper, while a fortunate kick off the boards presented Glasgow captain Dyson Stevenson with an opportunity but he shot wide, then Whistle produced an excellent double stop to deny first Jake Bolton and then Luke Lynch on the rebound.
And the Giants goaltender would be rewarded by Nazarian, who opened the scoring at 7:28 as Preston drove to the front of the net and, in the scramble, his wing partner was able to force it under the pads of Kielly for the lead. (0-1)
Lynch had a big chance to equalise as he seized upon a giveaway in neutral ice to bear down on Whistle but the netminder saved, while Sean Norris and Mack Stewart both had one-on-ones saved by Kielly before the period ended with Clan forward Ryan Harrison penalised for a trip.
The Giants were unable to capitalise on Harrison’s penalty, which was split over the first intermission, but when they did double their lead at 21:12 it was shorthanded as Ben Lake took a seat for interference but Preston and Nazarian combined superbly to set up Brown for the finish. (0-2)
And it didn’t take long for the lead to be extended to three as Philippe Sanche was sent to the box for hooking and Preston got his goal, stepping into the right circle and firing a fantastic shot shortside on Kielly at 26:17 (0-3), although there was concern shortly after for Norris, who needed assistance to leave the ice after an off the puck collision.
But the home side would finally find the net when the Giants ran into penalty trouble, Stewart called for illegal equipment and elbowing at the same time and, even though the visitors killed that off thanks to Whistle’s fine save on a Bolton one-timer, the defenceman would have the last laugh as he rifled home on the powerplay at 32:10 after a delay of game call on Belfast. (1-3)
It would be the Giants who would have the last say of the period, though, as they grabbed their fourth on the 5-on-3 powerplay at 34:17 as Bolton (holding) and Harrison (roughing) took a seat in the box and Preston grabbed his second of the night when he picked up on the loose puck in the slot and fired home (1-4), with the Giants ending the period by playing out a slashing penalty against Greg Printz.
Belfast started the period well with another kill on a delay of game penalty against Preston and then a period of sustained pressure in the Clan zone, but it was the hosts who grabbed another goal to make it a two-goal game at 43:49 as Jordan Cownie latched onto a rebound and fired past the unfortunate Whistle. (2-4)
But the game always belonged to the Giants and it took an incredible reaction stop from Kielly to prevent Printz from adding a fifth as he denied the winger a tasty rebound, while a late double-minor on Oliver Cooper for accidental high sticking was off-set by a Darien Craighead penalty for the Clan.
However, just when it looked like the visitors would be shut-out in the third period, up stepped McLeod with a fine solo finish as he meandered into the slot and finished five-hole on Kielly at 59:09 to round off the scoring. (2-5)
The Stena Line Belfast Giants return to The SSE Arena, Belfast on Saturday 16 September for a pre-season rematch against the Clan. Tickets are available here.
Photos by Al Goold.