The Giants faced their first challenge of the night early as Mark Garside (hooking, 2:46) was joined in the penalty box by Kevin Raine (boarding, 4:21).
Manchester pressed hard on the 5 on 3 power play and were rewarded when Adam Brady beat goalie Jackson Whistle at 4:35 (Assist: Dallas Erhardt, Scott Simmonds). (1-0)
Belfast struck the post at full strength, before Sam Ruopp was last man to a goal mouth scramble on a delayed call, tying the game at 12:15. (1-1)
Storm goalie Jason Bacashihua had saved 61 of his last 63 shots-faced heading into this encounter, but the Giants’ tally was doubled in the first period when Ciaran Long wristed home against his former club from the top of the right circle at 16:01. (1-2)
The goal scorer sat for slashing at 16:48 and a clinical Giants kill unit turned the puck over for Mark Cooper to break away short-handed, however his attempt was swallowed up by Bacashihua from close range.
The Manchester Storm were close to a perfect start in the second period, as Frankie Melton struck the underside of Whistle’s crossbar in the opening minute.
Instead, it was Belfast who stretched their advantage at 21:34 when Kevin Raine’s blue line wrist shot bounced back off the boards and landed at the feet of Slater Doggett on the edge of the crease (Second assist: Mark Cooper). (1-3)
This was followed in quick succession by Lewis Hook going to the net, finishing Jordan Boucher’s puck at 22:42. (1-4)
The Storm were denied a certain goal on a Griffin Reinhart cross checking penalty at 29:24, when the Giants’ penalty kill unit collapsed brilliantly around the crease to block the puck at the back door.
Ciaran Long notched his second of the game at 36:23 to put some distance between the sides heading into the second intermission (Assist: David Goodwin, JJ Piccinich). (1-5)
A fairly comfortable game was utterly turned on its head in the third period, as the Manchester Storm fought back on a penalty-heavy Giants.
Another Storm power play (Kevin Raine, delay of game, 41:29) was converted by Adam Brady for his second of the game at 42:34 (Assist: Jared VanWormer). (2-5)
A delayed Jeff Baum tripping call sent Manchester back onto a consecutive power play, but Belfast hung on thanks to a huge stop from Jackson Whistle on a VanWormer breakaway.
Another sprawling Whistle save off a Tayler Thompson shot was picked up on the rebound by Cam Critchlow for Manchester’s third at 47:32. (3-5)
Things went from bad to worse for the Giants when Adam Brady completed his hat trick at 48:18, on a Lewis Hook high sticking power play (Assist: Dallas Erhardt, Jared VanWormer). At this point Adam Keefe called a time out in an attempt to settle his side. (4-5)
The Giants had a brief reprieve when Frankie Melton was called for holding at 48:39, but Scott Conway’s clipping penalty at 49:03 sent it to 4 on 4.
The Storm’s comeback was complete courtesy of committed work at the crease from Linden Springer, tying the game at 51:31 (Assist: Adam Brady, Jared VanWormer). (5-5)
The Giants’ first clear power play of the game finally came at 54:09 when Springer was called for interference, and despite Scott Conway striking the post, a somewhat shellshocked Giants refocused for overtime.
It was Mark Cooper who stepped up for a crucial moment in this season’s title chase, picking up a Kevin Raine pass sent from the Giants’ third and breaking away into the offensive zone at 61:35, sniping Bacashihua to secure the full two points. (5-6 OT)
The Belfast Giants return home to The SSE Arena for a massive double header weekend against the Nottingham Panthers on Friday 25
and Saturday 26 March (both games face off at 7:00pm). Tickets are on sale HERE!