Giants on Cloud Nine After Hammering Storm on Home Ice
The Stena Line Belfast Giants moved one win away from defending their Viaplay Elite League title as a seven-goal third period led them to a thumping 9-1 win over the Manchester Storm at The SSE Arena, Belfast.
Eight different scorers found the net in the win, with winger David Gilbert the only man to find the back of the net twice, leaving Adam Keefe's men needing either one win or one loss from the second-placed Guildford Flames to lift the trophy.
It took the Giants just 2:43 to pull ahead as Sam Ruopp did superbly to break up a Storm breakaway at one end and at the other, Scott Conway and Steven Owre went on a breakaway of their own, with the former providing the finish. (1-0)
Indeed, the biggest question at the first intermission was how the Giants weren't more ahead as Ben Lake - playing on defence - was denied well by Manchester goaltender Jeremy Brodeur before Sean Norris hit the crossbar.
But the visitors were threatening, Jesper Ohrvall nearly sneaking the puck in low past Tyler Beskorowany but seeing it go wide, although they did have to kill a late hooking penalty on Michael Korol to reach the intermission just one down.
Once again the Giants struck early in the period as Gilbert got his first of the game, the winger turning and finding space in the slot and he rifled one into the roof of the net at 21:47. (2-0)
But a check to the head call against Will Cullen allowed the Storm to get their only goal of the game, Cole Carter driving the pass through the slot for Zac Herrmann to tap in at the back post at 26:34 to make it a one-goal game. (2-1)
Both sides needed to kill off penalties as Anthony DeLuca was called for hooking and then Tyler Soy sat for slashing, and the Giants nearly got a shorthanded goal when Gilbert set up Donovan Neuls up front but Brodeur was able to make the stop.
But in the final frame Belfast took over and went goal crazy, grabbing seven in the 20 minutes as captain David Goodwin kicked things off just 22 seconds in when he picked up the rebound off the backboards and put it in (3-1).
Belfast then notched three goals in just under two minutes, Scott Simmonds' cross-checking call putting the home side on the powerplay and Steven Owre jamming the puck home at the crease at 43:47 (4-1), a nice passing play from Lake and Sean Norris providing Gilbert with his second at 44:20 (5-1) and Gabe Bast roofing one at 45:32 to pile on the misery. (6-1)
Keefe opted to rest Beskorowany for the final 15 minutes, bringing in Jackson Whistle and the Great Britain international kept the clean sheet for the remainder of the game while his team-mates ran up the score line at the other end.
After playing out a hooking call against Norris, centre Neuls flicked in a rebound at 50:42 for the seventh (7-1) before the Giants couldn't convert on another Simmonds penalty (high sticking), but a fine finish from the right circle gave Norris his third goal of the weekend at 56:11 (8-1) and Henrik Eriksson wrapped things up at 59:06 with a beautiful solo goal. (9-1)
Next up, the Stena Line Belfast Giants take on the Guildford Flames at The SSE Arena, Belfast on Saturday 1 April. Tickets are on sale HERE!