Giants into Cup Semi Finals with Emphatic Win Over Blaze
Despite trailing by a goal on aggregate coming into Wednesday night’s Challenge Cup Quarter Final second leg, the Belfast Giants stamped their ticket to the Challenge Cup Semi Finals in style- breezing past a leggy Coventry Blaze 5-1 at the SSE Arena.
The Blaze had won the first leg 3-2 in Coventry before Christmas; but it took just over 5 minutes for Adam Keefe’s side to make up the difference.
The Belfast Giants were on the hunt for their aggregate equaliser early, pressing forward into the Coventry Blaze zone and testing goaltender CJ Motte.
The opening minutes were a scrappy affair as the Blaze attempted to shake off their bus legs and match the pace of the Giants.
True to their recent form in the Premier Sports Elite League, it was Adam Keefe’s top line who made the difference on the scoresheet.
A beautiful David Goodwin square pass from the left circle found JJ Piccinich soaring down the slot for a beautiful wristed finish at 5:09. (1-0 / 3-3 AGG)
Piccinich returned the favour at 9:10, finding Goodwin (who had missed last Saturday’s trip to Fife through injury) who promptly slotted home Belfast’s second. (2-0 / 4-3 AGG)
There was a late scare for the Giants as Coventry rattled the underside of Tyler Beskorowany’s cross bar with just under five minutes left, but the home side were certainly the happier at the break.
Belfast had an electrifying start to the middle period, stamping some clear distance on the scoreboard throughout an utterly clinical opening three minutes.
Slater Doggett made it 3 at 21:39, tipping down a Mark Cooper shot at the edge of the crease which Motte was powerless to stop. (3-0 / 5-3 AGG)
Just over a minute later, and with Ross Venus in the box for cross checking, Scott Conway found another beautiful squared pass from David Goodwin to snipe number 4 from mid-range at 22:53. (4-0 / 6-3 AGG)
Belfast’s first penalty kill of the game was as clinical as their offence, comfortably shutting the door on a Griffin Reinhart tripping penalty at 24:41.
A late Giants power play was over before it started. Alex Marsh was handed a delayed hooking call, and as Adam Keefe’s side iced the extra skater Sam Ruopp was called for interference at 36:35 to round the period off at 4 on 4.
Coventry came close on a David Goodwin hooking penalty at 47:57, chipping the puck onto Beskorowany’s post in a spell of frantic goal mouth action.
At the other end, the Giants cycled well on an Evan Bloodoff interference call at 50:29 but fell short of their fifth goal of the game.
The did, however, find it short-handed. As Scott Conway sat for hooking, Lewis Hook forced a turnover at the blue line and skated the slot before finishing in emphatic style at 55:44 unassisted. (5-0 / 7-3 AGG)
There was a consolation goal for the Blaze courtesy of Janne Kivilahti at 56:31, denying Beskorowany a shutout with a close range finish (Assist: Ryan Penny, Ross Venus); but it was too little, too late as the Belfast Giants booked their spot in the Challenge Cup Semi Finals.
The Belfast Giants are back in action at the SSE Arena this Friday, taking on the Cardiff Devils on EIHL Pride Weekend. Tickets are on sale HERE.