Flames Hit For Six As Giants Move Top Of Elite League
The Stena Line Belfast Giants moved top of the Viaplay Elite League for the first time this season with a 6-1 win over the Guildford Flames at the Guildford Spectrum on Wednesday night.
Two goals from defenceman Gabe Bast and further strikes from Ciaran Long, Scott Conway, Grant Cooper and Lewis Hook made it a very happy night for Adam Keefe's side, who also got 25 saves from netminder Tyler Beskorowany.
The Flames started hot and got the opening goal just 3:40 into the game as an odd-man rush allowed Ryan Tait to step into the slot and beat Beskorowany on the backhand. (1-0)
The Spectrum was then on its feet shortly after when a rapid breakaway saw Bradley Lalonde's quick one-timer find the outside of the net and the home side had a powerplay chance as Mark Cooper was called for slashing but the Giants killed it off.
And it was Long who rewarded the special teams when he tied it up at 13:07, stepping in from the blue-line and smashing home a slapshot that left Eamon McAdam with no chance in the Guildford goal. (1-1)
Beskorowany needed to be big when he denied Tait on the breakaway after the speedy Flames forward was set in behind by a lofted pass over the top, before Long and Kyle Locke clashed in neutral ice to make it four-on-four hockey as both sat two for roughing.
But late in the period, a slashing call on Ben O'Connor put the Giants on the powerplay and they took full advantage, the puck drawn back to Bast straight off the face-off and he ripped home the shot at 19:49. (1-2)
An ill-tempered second period that saw the two teams take a combined 137 penalty minutes started with the Giants killing off a holding call against Scott Conway, but after that it was all Belfast.
Conway himself grabbed the third at 25:27 when captain David Goodwin found him alone in the slot and he finished (1-3), before Grant Cooper added the fourth at 27:57 with a fine rifled finish from the right circle with the two sides playing four-on-four following roughing penalties to Ben Lake and Owen Griffiths. (1-4)
A tripping call against Flames forward Sam Marklund led to the Giants' fifth as Hook netted on the powerplay at 30:14 (1-5), but ugly scenes in front of the Giants' bench after the goal went in saw Lake and Guildford captain Brett Ferguson ejected from the game for fighting.
But the Giants' scoring would continue at 31:09 as Bast grabbed his second with a fine back-handed effort from in close to round off the scoring (1-6), and the visitors were able to play out an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty handed out to the defenceman for his celebration.
The drama still wasn't over, though, and there would be two more ejections before the intermission, Mark Cooper thrown out for spearing for the Giants and Marklund taking his leave for the Flames for roughing as an ill-disciplined second period ended on a heated note
The final frame was devoid of action as the Giants did a professional job of closing out the two points without any drama, and they were aided as the Flames took two penalties to wind down the clock, Jordan Klimek (high sticking) and Daniel Tedesco (hooking) both sitting.
Beskorowany had to make a couple of stops as the home side looked for a small consolation but the Canadian stood tall at the other end and shut the door to secure a much-deserved victory.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants are back at The SSE Arena, Belfast this Saturday 18th February at 7:00pm as the Glasgow Clan come to town in ViaPlay Elite League action. Tickets are on sale HERE!