Five different players found the back of the net in the win, with Mark Cooper, Greg Printz and Quinn Preston scoring early to give Adam Keefe’s men a quick lead and Daniel Tedesco and Bobby MacIntyre making it safe late on after a 33-save performance from Jackson Whistle in nets.
The Giants came out of the blocks lightning quick, with Antti Karjalainen having to make two stops to deny Jacob Friend and Printz early, but he was powerless to stop Cooper from giving the visitors the lead at 1:19 when Printz set him up for the one-timer in the left circle. (0-1)
It didn’t take long for that lead to be doubled, Whistle making an impressive save on Charlie Combs and he was rewarded shortly after when the puck was worked back to Preston in the slot, and he beat Karjalainen high for the second at 3:29 (0-2), with the third arriving at 7:32 as Travis Brown’s shot couldn’t be held by Karjalainen and Printz was there to stab in the loose puck. (0-3)
Clan Head Coach Jason Morgan called a timeout to good effect after the Giants’ third goal, and when Printz was penalised for slashing, the Clan took full advantage, Gary Haden’s shot going through traffic and beating Whistle to get the home side on the board at 9:32. (1-3)
Belfast had a chance to respond at the end of the first period when Combs was called for slashing, but they couldn’t capitalise on the powerplay, while Whistle did well to glove down a chance for Bryce Reddick as he found some space in the right circle.
A roughing penalty assessed to Jake Bolton after the buzzer for the first intermission put the Giants on a powerplay to start the middle frame, and they came within inches of grabbing a fourth goal as the puck hit the post in a scramble around the net, and at the other end, Whistle made a huge stop to turn away Nate Kallen’s effort on a three-on-one breakaway.
But it was an unfortunate break along the boards that allowed the Clan to bring it back to a one-goal game at 30:34, an unlucky bounce taking it off the stick of Whistle, and although the netminder recovered to save Ryan Harrison’s initial effort, he could do nothing about Robert Lachowicz’s follow-up. (2-3)
Another save from Whistle denied Combs on the breakaway shortly after, and the Giants were able to see things out to the second intermission as they played out a hooking call against Friend.
Oliver Cooper looked to double the Giants’ lead when he was found in front by Cameron Pound, but it was a period where the visitors were keen to try and close out the game with minimal drama.
Unfortunately, there would be plenty as penalties to Clan forward Alex Forbes (tripping) and Giants winger Oliver Cooper (goaltender interference) opened up chances for the home side and after Bolton hit the post from long range, Whistle needed to be at his best to deny Combs on a strong chance in the left circle.
But Tedesco would call the game at 54:26 when he intercepted Ryan Harrison’s pass at the blue-line, skated in on Karjalainen and finished (2-4), with MacIntyre making the scoreline look even nicer when he capitalised on Reece Kelly’s hooking call, firing in from the angle on the powerplay at 56:00 to end the scoring. (2-5)
Next up, the Belfast Giants return to The SSE Arena to take on Glasgow Clan in Elite League action on Thursday 28 December, before welcoming Dundee Stars for the final home game of 2023 on Saturday 30 December. Tickets are available here.