Giants Return to League Action with Stars Victory
After an electrifying Challenge Cup victory on Wednesday night, the Stena Line Belfast Giants turned their focus back on a thrilling EIHL title chase with a 4-1 win over the Dundee Stars on Saturday night at The SSE Arena, Belfast.
A JJ Piccinich double and goals from Mark Cooper and Jordan Boucher proved too much for the Stars, whose only goal came courtesy of Sebastian Bengtsson.
Any fears of a Challenge Cup hangover were assuaged at just 1:56 when Lewis Hook and Tyler Soy combined on the rush to set up Jordan Boucher on the left for a lightning wrist shot past Stars goalie Brython Preece. (1-0)
Dundee’s Kalvis Ozols sat for hooking at 4:09, and the Giants opening power play of the night was ruthless. A lasered square pass from David Goodwin to Mark Cooper at the bottom of the left circle was converted comfortably at 4:36 (Second assist: JJ Piccinich). (2-0)
Kris Inglis was next to the box for Dundee after a time out from head coach Omar Pacha. The Stars did kill his interference penalty at 9:47, but Preece was peppered by an efficient Giants power play shift.
Belfast’s third came at 14:26, when David Goodwin’s stretch pass connected with JJ Piccinich, who crossed the blue line to snipe Preece blocker side. (3-0)
Dundee’s penalty woes continued at 14:31 when Craig Moore served a tripping call, but the Stars kill unit hung on to limit the early damage.
The first spark of a largely uneventful second period was at 28:42 when Philippe Sanche was called for goalie interference, after a coming together with Sam Ruopp ended in a collision with Tyler Beskorowany in the crease. He was joined in the box by Gabriel Desjardins for abuse of an official, but the Stars turned away Belfast’s 5 on 3 power play.
That was followed by a Michael Poirier high sticking penalty at 32:46, which Belfast went hunting on, but the Stars turned away a barrage of close-range shots.
Dundee’s Charlie Combs was unlucky on the breakaway back at full strength, the visitors biggest chance of the period, before they finally opened their account at 37:04.
Moving well in the Giants zone, Philippe Sanche sent the puck from the boards to the slot, meeting the blade of Sebastian Bengtsson (Second assist: Timi Lahtinen). (3-1)
JJ Piccinich restored the three-goal lead when his wrist shot from the slot went bar down on Preece, his second goal of the game coming at 43:26 unassisted. (4-1)
The puck was in the Stars’ net once again after the drop, but Belfast’s fifth was waved off as Tyler Soy took a hooking call on the play.
As word of the Nottingham Panthers victory over the Sheffield Steelers reached the stands at the SSE Arena, there was a noticeable surge in the atmosphere as the Teal Army sang their Belfast Giants over the line- and nobody was left in doubt that focus had fully returned to a thrilling EIHL league title chase.
The Belfast Giants take to the road to face the Manchester Storm in Premier Sports Elite Ice Hockey League action on Sunday afternoon at 5:30pm, before returning to Belfast for a big home double header against the Nottingham Panthers on Friday 25th / Saturday 26th March, both games at 7:00pm. Tickets are on sale HERE!