Giants Back to Winning Ways With Stars Victory
The Stena Line Belfast Giants returned home from a third straight defeat in Wales on Saturday in search of a spark, and they found it at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Sunday afternoon.
A brace from Will Cullen, along with goals from Lewis Hook and Ben Lake saw Adam Keefe’s side back to winning ways with a 4-2 score line, ahead of yet another gruelling week on the road.
The Belfast Giants certainly looked the more threatening of the sides during the opening minutes, applying good pressure to the Dundee Stars zone, but struggling to put together the end product- despite a power play at 4:34 when Mac Howlett sat for slashing.
The Stars opened the scoring against the run of play when prolific forward Philippe Sanche got in-close on Giants goalie Jackson Whistle at 8:19. (1-0)
Belfast responded with a beautiful play over the blue line at 14:45, when Ben Lake squared the puck from the left to a primed Will Cullen on the opposite side. (1-1)
The Giants' kill unit pressed high throughout their first outing of the game, pinning the Stars deep as Matt Foley sat for interference at 15:14.
Dundee’s Chris Lidjsman was called for hooking at 23:25, but Belfast found their go-ahead goal back at 5 on 5 when a great checking play by Darik Angeli at the boards sent Lewis Hook into the zone on the left. His squared puck was finished brilliantly by Cullen in front of goal for his second of the game at 28:52. (2-1)
Belfast’s special teams went 2 for 2 when Gabe Bast sat for interference at 31:03, and a superb piece of individual skill from Ben Lake on the breakaway added a third; going forehand/backhand before firing over the left shoulder of Stars goalie Anton Svensson at 33:47. (3-1)
A quick response from the Stars kept the game alive heading into the break, as Johan Eriksson positioned himself well at the back door to jab home a rebound off Benjamin Sokay’s shot at 35:02. (3-2)
Unfortunately for the Giants, forward Ciaran Long did not emerge for the final period after sustaining an upper-body injury mid-game.
A punchy finish from Sam Ruopp in front of the crease was washed off by the referees just over 10 minutes from time, after Lewis Hook swept in from the right and made contact with Svensson during the build-up.
Hook was however the man on the spot when Belfast eventually found their fourth, finishing Matt Foley’s puck from behind the net in tight quarters at 46:10. (4-2)
Stars Head Coach Jeff Mason called a time-out with 2 minutes remaining, pulling his goalie in favour of the extra skater. The pressure was doubled when Ben Lake was called for boarding at 58:21, with Johan Eriksson clawing a goal back for the visitors skating 6 on 4 at 58:52. (4-3)
The Dundee net remained empty as they surged in desperate search of a late equaliser, but it was not to be thanks in large part to a heroic diving block from Giants forward Mark Cooper in the dying seconds.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants take to the road next week, firstly to meet the Nottingham Panthers in their Challenge Cup Quarter Final 1st leg on Thursday 15th December at 7:30pm, before a visit to the Manchester Storm on Saturday 17th (7:00pm) and the Coventry Blaze on Sunday 18th (5:30pm). Ticketing information for our stretch of Christmas home games back at The SSE Arena, Belfast can be found HERE!