For two periods the home team kept heavy pressure on the visiting Scots, but a busy third period from the Fife Flyers kept the game interesting through to the final buzzer.
The Belfast Giants came out flying from the moment the puck dropped for a massive first period. Within minutes of the opening period, Giants’ Kohei Sato drew a hooking penalty right in front of the Fife net, as the Flyer’s forward Colin Shirley attempted to prevent an easy shot into their net.
It didn’t take long for the home team’s Ara Nazarian to capitalise on the power play thanks to a pass from captain Mark Cooper and defenceman Charlie Curti. (0-1)
Less than a minute later, Matt McLeod gained possession near centre ice and carried the puck singlehandedly to Flyer’s goaltender Shane Owen, putting it past him for the Giants’ second of the night. (0-2)
The Giants had a lot more damage to inflict in the first as they kept heavy pressure on the Flyers, barely allowing them any possession of the puck. It wasn’t long before yet another Belfast Giants forward found his name on the scoreboard. Giants' defenceman Travis Brown sent a shot from near the blue line to the scrum in front of the net for Sean Norris to tap in. (0-3)
Still within the first 10 minutes of the first period, the home team didn’t let their foot off the gas, with five-on-five play looking like a Giants’ powerplay. With over half the period left, Italian Canadian star forward Daniel Tedesco found the back of the net thanks to passes from captain Mark Cooper and defenceman Jeff Baum. (0-4)
Flyers were able to start getting shots against Jackson Whistle, but nothing of substance. The Giants defencemen stood strong in front of their goaltender, not allowing many strong chances, and Whistle stopping any that made their way through.
There was yet another chance for defenceman Travis Brown, but he was beat by Owen’s post, leaving the period with the home team ahead by four.
The Fife Flyers came out in the second with more vigour to break the egg on the scoreboard. Whistle was challenged a bit more compared to the first but had no problem flashing the leather with his glove hand.
The majority of the period was far tamer compared to the first, with the home team focused on making prime passes and setting up plays in the offensive zone.
At the near halfway mark of the period, the visiting team were able to find the back of the Giants net, as Finnish forward Teemu Pulkkinen put one up with help from Colin Shirley and Max Humitz. (1-4)
Shortly after the Flyers first goal, the Giants faced their first penalty kill of the game, as Sato sat for tripping. Whistle stood strong against some Flyers chances but was able to see through the screen and shut down the power play.
The Giants took control of the puck again after beating the penalty kill, with Tedesco showing off his stickhandling, and eventually forcing Fife to take an interference penalty. Miles Gendron stepped up from the blue line to set up a beautiful play with Ben Lake finishing with Johnny Curran linking up the two. (1-5)
For the first five minutes of the third period, it seemed like the Giants were going to continue their dominance against the visiting team. The men in teal were first to the puck at every battle, and forwards Tedesco and Preston stood out, staying strong on the puck every chance they had.
The momentum changed quickly, with Fife starting to get high-risk chances against the home team, with the Giants being saved by the post at least once. The moment shifted again when Mason Alderson was taken down by Brady Pouteau while rushing the puck down into the offensive zone. Pouteau was called for holding sending the team back on the power play.
Mark Cooper found the puck laying in front of the crease in a scramble during the power play, flicking it in to get another Giants goal. (1-6)
Fife reacted quickly with Colin Shirley finding the top corner above Whistle’s shoulder. (2-6)
Less than a minute later, play was interrupted as Jacob Friend clashed with Flyers’ forward Teemu Pulkkinen at centre ice. Both served holding penalties, with Friend also serving an extra two for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Flyers a power play. The Flyers’ James Spence took full advantage, sneaking another past Whistle. (3-6)
The Flyers weren’t finished with their comeback dreams as Lucas Chiodo fund the back of the net for the Flyers, giving them their fourth of the night and third in just under five minutes. (4-6)
Despite Sato and Nazarian taking penalties, the Giants held onto the game for the last five minutes of play. Shane Owen was pulled to give the Flyers an extra man advantage and Whistle was forced to stand on his head to make his biggest saves of the game.
With just seconds left in the game, Sato secured the win with an empty net goal. (4-7)
The Stena Line Belfast Giants take on the Fife Flyers in Fife tomorrow night in Elite Ice Hockey League action before returning home for Champions Hockey League action against HC Dynamo Pardubice. It’s a massive game with hopes of making CHL playoffs on the line. Tickets are available here.