Steve Owre provided an early scare in front of goal for the Guildford Flames, capitalising on Ben O’Connor’s lapse in the opening minutes. It was well saved by Flames goalie Eamon McAdam, but it was a sign of things to come for the Belfast Giants throughout a lively opening 20 minutes.
A flowing period with little stoppage was punctuated by an opener at 9:04 when Giants captain David Goodwin pounced on a Kyle Locke error on the left of the zone to fire home unassisted from the mid slot. (0-1)
Beautiful one touch hockey set the visitors up for their second as they pressed deep at 12:26, with Scott Conway finding a way past McAdam with the help of the debuting Grant Cooper, who registered his first point in teal. (0-2)
The sides exchanged power plays before the break as Belfast’s Mark Cooper and Guildford’s Daniel Tedesco took a pair of tripping calls at 13:54 and 17:12 respectively.
The Giants continued their hot start into the middle period, frustrating a Flames side who have become accustomed to winning throughout a remarkable season so far, but somehow not finding their third goal.
Mark Cooper came agonisingly close four minutes into the period, cutting inside from the left and nicking the post as McAdam sprawled across his crease.
As Henrik Eriksson sat for boarding at 27:41, Owre found Conway who was unlucky not to convert short-handed for Belfast.
The visitors headed straight back onto the kill as Lewis Hook sat for slashing at 29:44, and whiffed on a power play of their own when Brett Ferguson was called for holding the stick at 36:05.
Belfast brushed off a Sam Ruopp hooking penalty at 42:35, and notched another on the power play (McNulty, tripping, 51:31) through gritty net front presence from Mark Cooper at 51:39. (0-3)
There were a pair of twos for Ciaran Long and Guildford’s Sam Marklund at 52:54, when their tangle in the Giants zone led to roughing calls, but stopped short of a full fight.
A 2+2 for high sticking by Flames forward Daniel Tedesco sent the Giants onto the 4 on 3 power play moments later at 53:09, and a thundering one timer from Gabe Bast was tipped down at the crease by Conway for a fourth goal without reply at 53:55. (0-4)
Sam Ruopp seemed shaken by a nasty slash from Brad Lalonde in the Flames’ zone with just 2 seconds on the clock, but he rose to his feet as Adam Keefe’s side closed out a display of dominance against the league leaders.
The Giants continue their road trip this week with visits to the Cardiff Devils (Friday, 7:30pm) and Nottingham Panthers (Saturday, 7:00pm) before returning home for the conclusion to the Challenge Cup Semi Final against the Flames next Wednesday 25th January at 7:00pm. Tickets are on sale HERE!
Images by John Uwins.