Cooper was joined on the scoresheet by Slater Doggett, Jordan Boucher and JJ Piccinich. The sides meet again tomorrow at 4pm in game two of a Giant double header weekend.
A lively start saw both sides exchange grade A opportunities in the opening minutes. Luke Ferrara was first to test Tyler Beskorowany in the Giants goal before Tyler Soy worked his way in close on CJ Motte.
Unsurprisingly, it only took 4 minutes for the lamp to be lit. With a healthy screen in front of Motte, Slater Doggett ripped a wrister from the high slot which raised the bumper SSE Arena crowd to its feet (Assist: JJ Piccinich, Jordan Boucher). (1-0)
Darcy Murphy’s return to the Giants line up looked to have suffered an early hiccup as he sat for tripping at 7:15, but the Giants kill unit continued an electric run of form when Mark Cooper played a pass from behind the net into the path of Jordan Boucher, who dangled the puck home short handed at 8:38. (2-0)
Ryan Penny was called for slashing at 9:43, but the Giants third came late in the period at full strength with a beautiful offensive play into the zone from Doggett, squaring the puck to Mark Cooper for a calm finish at 18:57. (3-0)
It was a genuine shock that Belfast didn’t score when Dillon Eichstadt was called for tripping at 25:19; a vicious power play shift saw CJ Motte peppered in the Blaze crease, but the visitors killed the threat.
The ever-skilful JJ Piccinich bagged the Giants second short-handed goal of the game with help from Scott Conway at 29:26, bearing down on Motte on the breakaway as a night to forget for the Blaze power play unit continued. (4-0)
Coventry’s Dane Gibson sat for slashing at 31:26, before Evan Bloodoff pulled one back unassisted with the wraparound on Beskorowany at 36:47- with the puck getting a helping hand from Griffin Reinhart’s stick on its way in. (4-1)
The Giants killed a Kevin Raine holding penalty at 37:45 to end the period with a three-goal lead.
Mark Cooper doubled his tally on the breakaway with a vicious finish from the mid slot at 44:24, triggering a change of goaltender for the Coventry Blaze as Jordan Hedley replaced CJ Motte (Assist: Ben Lake, Mark Garside). (5-1)
Tensions began to spill over in front of the benches as Ryan Penny was sent back to the penalty box for roughing at 46:23.
It was the opening Cooper needed to clinch his hat trick with a one timer from the slot on the power play at 47:27 (Assist: Jordan Boucher, Scott Conway). (6-1)
Tensions continued to simmer late into the game. First, Scott Conway sat for hooking at 53:09, before Ciaran Long (cross checking) and Joey Raats (roughing) were sent to the box together with 36 seconds remaining. Despite that, proceedings never quite reached boiling point and the Belfast Giants closed the game with two comfortable points.
The Belfast Giants are back in action on Sunday afternoon at 4:00pm, taking on the Coventry Blaze in game two of double header weekend. Tickets are on sale HERE!