Five Goal Giants Dominate in Nottingham
The Halloween celebrations were somewhat subdued at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham on Friday night, as the Belfast Giants ran riot in a 0-5 shutout victory over the Panthers with goals from JJ Piccinich (2), Scott Conway, Slater Doggett and Mark Cooper.
The Giants responded to last weekend’s defeat to the Manchester Storm in style with their most complete performance of the season so far; aggressive and speedy going forward, tucking pucks in behind defenders, and clinical at the back with the support of an impressive Tyler Beskorowany.
The game was just 29 seconds old when David Goodwin’s dump into the Panthers zone took a tricky bounce off the boards and out into the path of a crashing JJ Piccinich, who had a wide-open goal in front of him. (0-1)
Belfast’s speed out of the traps had clearly caught the Nottingham Panthers off guard. JJ Piccinich continued a fine offensive start by ringing the iron before Scott Conway dug the puck out of a goal mouth scramble to finish the visitors’ second at 6:00. (0-2)
The Panthers slowly began to limit the Giants odd man rushes and finally began to settle into the game around the ten-minute mark, with Defenceman JC Brassard giving Tyler Beskorowany his first big test in close.
Despite solid movement and chances created, Belfast’s opening power play (Matheson, Interference, 14:01) came up short. However, the visitors were relentless over the opening 20 minutes, amassing 18 shots on goal to Nottingham’s 8.
To that end, Panthers goaltender Kevin Carr had stood on his head for most of the period, but particularly in the final minute; turning away a certain Mark Cooper goal with a stunning leg save.
The Giants’ onslaught continued as the middle period got underway. Tyler Soy’s beautiful backhand pass from behind the net on the right teed up Slater Doggett in the slot, who hammered home number three at 21:49 (0-3)
Soy did it again at 24:40, when a second no-looker from behind the net zipped its way to Mark Cooper who was poised at the left post for Belfast’s fourth unanswered. (0-4)
It wasn’t just the Belfast offence that was firing on all cylinders.
Nottingham had a chance to chip their way back into a largely one-sided game with back-to-back power plays (Baum, Slashing, 30:05 & Murphy, Tripping, 32:59), but the Giants penalty kill unit and Beskorowany shut the door.
Darcy Murphy sat for too many men on the ice at 47:58, but the Giants kill unit comfortably completed a perfect night.
Two Panthers penalties in quick succession gave Belfast a golden opportunity to open their league account on the power play at 5 on 3 (Doherty, Slashing, 50:22 & Myers, Delay of Game, 50:25), but the visitors could not settle the puck down in the zone.
JJ Piccinich cut in from the boards to finish goal number five for Belfast, firing a right-handed shot from the left past Carr at 53:40.
There was just enough time for Carr to take a hooking penalty on Jordan Boucher at 58:26, handing the Belfast Giants breathing room to see out a dominant victory in Nottingham.
The Belfast Giants return home on Saturday at 7:00pm for a special Halloween Game Night, taking on the Fife Flyers to close out the Challenge Cup group stage. Tickets are on sale HERE.
Images by Nottingham Panthers.