The Stena Line Belfast Giants snapped a four-game losing skid with an emphatic 5-1 win over the Glasgow Clan at a sold-out SSE Arena as former Champions League and Premier League winning netminder Petr Cech made his professional debut for the home side.
The Czech goalie came on late in the game to replace Tyler Beskorowany, who earned the win with 13 saves, as two goals from Kohei Sato and further strikes from Quinn Preston, Ara Nazarian and Mark Cooper grabbed Adam Keefe’s men the two points on offer.
The visitors were the ones who started brighter at The SSE Arena, Belfast and it was captain Dyson Stevenson who had the first sights at goal, but his efforts were well covered by Beskorowany, while the Giants failed to connect on their first powerplay of the game as Luke Lynch was penalised for roughing.
Charlie Curti took a hit from Stevenson to set up a chance as he managed to send Preston into the zone, only for his pass to evade the stick of Matt McLeod driving the back post, while Jacob Friend would drop the gloves with Stevenson as retribution for the hit, which earned them both five minutes in the box.
The physicality continued as Greg Printz and Cody Sol collided behind the Glasgow net with a thunderous impact, but it was the Clan who nearly broke the tie before the first intermission as Reid Petryk stole the puck on the blue-line but couldn’t beat Beskorowany with the shot.
It would be Glasgow who would strike first just 16 seconds into the middle period thanks to a significant stroke of luck as Stevenson fired the puck back to the crease and it deflected off Beskorowany’s stick and in (0-1), and they nearly had two as Robert Lachowicz picked out Alex Forbes on the rush but Beskorowany made an excellent stop.
The lead would not last long, though, and at 26:04 the Giants tied it up as Preston produced a stunning finish into the top corner (1-1), and then Belfast received another significant boost as they killed off an almost two-minute 5-on-3 powerplay as David Phillips (interference) and Friend (slashing) sat, with the best chance actually falling to Cooper on the shorthanded breakaway.
And they would ride that momentum to a two-goal second intermission lead as new signing Bobby MacIntyre got his first assist, winning the puck along the boards and feeding Nazarian for the right circle finish at 32:46 (2-1), then Sato added the third at 38:18 when he forced the puck in from close range. (3-1)
The Giants picked up where they left off in the third period as Cooper grabbed his goal at 43:45, Printz with the initial shot that was denied by Kielly but the captain was able to follow in behind for the finish (4-1), and it could have been more had it not been for the netminder denying Matt McLeod when he drove in from the left.
Sato continued his fine night when he hit the post with an impressive shot and McLeod once again threatened when he hit the crossbar with a powerful effort, before Glasgow had a goal ruled out after a review when Lachowicz put the puck in the net but it was determined he kicked it into the net.
Instead, the scoring was rounded off at 52:30 by Sato, who was fed the puck across the crease by Nazarian for the tap-in (5-1), and there was even time for Cech to make his Giants and professional debut, replacing Beskorowany in nets and keeping the Clan off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game.
Next up, the Stena Line Belfast Giants are on the road to take on the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday, followed by a rematch with the Clan on Friday December 1 at the Braehead Arena, with them returning to home ice on Sunday December 3 with the visit of the Sheffield Steelers.