Three unanswered goals from the league’s top point scorer Scott Conway in the first period handed the Giants’ their two points, keeping them at the top of the Viaplay Elite Ice Hockey League standings. The game also marked Giants’ goaltender Tyler Beskorowany’s third shutout since returning to the team in mid-January.
The Giants completely dominated in the offensive zone throughout the opening five minutes, setting the tone for the first period. Within the first few minutes of play, Belfast Giants’ top scorer Scott Conway puts the wheels in motion by sinking a rebound past Glasgow goaltender John Muse with help from defenseman Gabe Bast who set up the initial shot. (0-1)
Newly added forward Grant Cooper was eventually called for a penalty, but the 2-minute charging call did little for the Glasgow Clan. The Giants killed the penalty, even getting some shorthanded chances in the process.
Instantly off the penalty kill, the Giants tested Muse with a steady stream of shots. One of these came from Giants’ Matt McLeod, who made a name for himself in his debut weekend in Belfast last week, scoring three goals in two games. Unfortunately, his rush along the boards and attempt to get the puck tight to Muse resulted in Clan defenseman Jeff Solow tripping McLeod into Muse. Muse was helped off the ice and the Glasgow netminder was replaced by back-up Taylor. Solow sat in the box for tripping.
The Giants’ second shot against Taylor resulted in another Conway goal, once again from Bast, and the second assist to Mark Cooper on the power play. (0-2)
Minutes later Giants’ defenseman Will Cullen took a hooking penalty in an attempt to help his goaltender out. The risky penalty was nothing to worry about as the Giants killed the penalty. The momentum sent the offense down flying to get Scott Conway his third goal of the period, completing his hat trick in less than 20 minutes. (0-3)
Glasgow’s Kevin Massey was called for interference in the dying minutes of the period, allowing the Giants to comfortably end the period on the power play.
At the start of the second, the Glasgow Clan killed the remainder of their penalty, just 17 seconds. The Giants continued to fire shots against Taylor but the substitute stood strong, giving the home team some energy.
The Glasgow offense started to test Beskorowany with some quality opportunities but could not get past the 6’4” wall.
Glasgow continued to show that they were still in the game as Dyson Stevenson laid down McLeod with a big hit. The play was whistled down and called for boarding, making it the second penalty McLeod was able to draw on the evening.
The Giants’ power play was short-lived with Steve Owre being called for hooking, resulting in 4-on-4 hockey.
Giants’ forward David Gilbert, who was quick to the net with shots in the first as well, attempted a shorthanded shot at the end of Stevenson’s penalty, but Taylor was hot all through the second, not letting up. On the other end, Beskorowany did the same for the Giants.
There was a brief moment of celebration for Conway and Mark Cooper as they thought they found the back of the net again, but instead, Cooper was sent to the penalty box for goalie interference against Taylor. The penalty was killed, and the aftermath resulted in a massive giveaway from Clan to allow Grant Cooper a solid chance, but Taylor kept on his A game to close of the period.
The third period continued to show that both teams were not done with the game yet. Glasgow kept heavy pressure in front of the Giants’ crease, eventually getting too close for comfort for the Giants’ blue line. Defenseman Matt Foley found himself scrapping with Stevenson briefly, but enough to land them both in the penalty box for roughing.
The 4-on-4 play ended with no change on the scoreboard, but plenty of chances on both ends. Both goaltenders were on top of their game, not giving anything up.
In the third period, Mack Stewart and Kell Beattie took to the ice, with Stewart also getting in on the shots against Taylor.
The game was nearly sealed with Conway’s hat trick when in the final few minutes Donovan Neuls found his chance to score his first goal as a Belfast Giant with an assist from fellow newcomer, Matt McLeod. (0-4)
The Stena Line Belfast Giants are in Fife tomorrow to take on the Flyers in Viaplay Elite League action, just days before the two teams meet again on 1 March for the highly anticipated sold-out Challenge Cup final at The SSE Arena, Belfast. View upcoming Belfast Giants' home games at The SSE Arena, Belfast HERE.