Giants Dominate Depleted Blaze to Open Road Swing
The Belfast Giants secured a commanding 1-7 victory over a depleted Coventry Blaze at the Skydome on Wednesday night- the first of four games on the road for Adam Keefe’s side this week.
Ben Lake tucked a hat trick past his former team- with Scott Conway, Cam Knight, and a Mark Cooper double adding to a dominant performance.
With Brit goalie Jordan Hedley standing in for usual Blaze starter CJ Motte, Head Coach Danny Stewart had also been forced to call upon the services of no less than 4 ‘two-way’ contracts from the NIHL to make up the numbers on a short Coventry Bench.
When Coventry’s Johnny Curran picked out Ross Venus in the neutral zone, a long stretch pass to Evan Bloodoff over the blue line provided a somewhat unexpected first goal of the night at 3:19, as the pacey Forward tore off on the breakaway for a wristed finish past Tyler Beskorowany in the Giants goal. (1-0)
The Belfast Giants responded quickly. When David Goodwin’s thunderclap of a one timer somehow did not hit twine, the loose puck found Scott Conway who buried from close range at 6:22 (Second Assist: JJ Piccinich). (1-1)
Backstopped by a game Hedley, the Coventry Blaze looked dangerous from the drop as Alec Marsh had two bites at Beskorowany mid-period.
However, Cam Knight struck from distance with the goalie screened at 16:12 to edge Belfast into the lead (Assist: Mark Cooper, Ben Lake), and Lake followed up with a scrappy third at 19:04 to close the period with a two-goal cushion (Assist: Griffin Reinhart, Slater Doggett). (1-2 / 1-3)
Belfast took control of the game and fired an early warning shot as the second period got underway, with Ciaran Long’s back hand effort off a 3 on 2 rush coming close.
Scott Conway followed up moments later with a strong one on one versus Hedley at close range, but the Blaze netminder was impressive with a sprawling save.
A severely depleted Coventry could only hold back the tide for so long, and Ben Lake struck his second of the game at 32:36 off a square puck into the slot by Mark Cooper (Second Assist: Slater Doggett). (1-4)
JJ Piccinich’s pass to a poised David Goodwin at the edge of the crease provided the goal of the game, as the Giants Captain skilfully flicked the puck on to a waiting Scott Conway at the back door at 35:55 (Second Assist: JJ Piccinich). (1-5)
There was just enough time remaining for the first penalty of the game as Mark Garside sat for slashing at 39:19, handing the hosts a minute and change of power play to open the final period.
A Sam Ruopp holding penalty at 46:38 did little to bother the Giants, who were in game management mode as the third period unfolded.
Adam Keefe iced young rookie Kell Beattie with around seven minutes remaining and the game well out of reach for the Blaze.
A beautiful zone to zone pass from Tyler Soy found the blade of Mark Cooper on the Coventry blue line at 53:41. Cooper’s backhand-forehand finish was a fitting goal for an impressive assist. (1-6)
A penalty shy game saw the Giants take their first power play of the night at 57:18 when Nathanael Halbert was called for holding, but it was back at full strength when Ben Lake struck the final nail, and his hat trick goal, unassisted at 59:22. (1-7)
The Belfast Giants travel to Scotland this weekend to face the Dundee Stars (Friday and Saturday) and the Fife Flyers (Sunday), before returning home to the SSE Arena on Saturday 19th February for a rematch against the Flyers. Tickets are on sale HERE!