If Coventry Blaze head coach Danny Stewart was looking for a response after last night’s heavy defeat in Belfast, he certainly got it in the opening minute as Peyton Frantti mopped up a loose puck in front of Giants’ goalie Peyton Jones. (1-0)
In a frantic spell, Mark Cooper responded for Belfast with a one-timer from the high slot at 2:51, availing of good traffic in front of goal, before Johnny Curran broke away off the drop to regain Coventry’s lead just 19 seconds later. (1-1, 2-1)
The chaos of the opening minutes gave way to a relatively quieter opening period, with both teams getting their looks alongside skirmishes after the whistle- no doubt a hangover from the previous night’s encounter.
The Coventry Blaze extended their lead just 15 seconds away from the buzzer when Ross Venus got a tip on a long-range effort from Tanner Lishchynsky. (3-1)
Adam Keefe rang the changes in the period break as Giants’ goalie Peyton Jones gave way to Jackson Whistle, who had been stellar in Saturday night’s 7-0 victory at The SSE Arena, Belfast.
Scott Conway’s initial shot off the post was directed home by David Goodwin in front of goal in the second minute of the period, but after being sent to review the referees waved it off for contact with the Belfast Captain’s skate.
Any semblance of a Giants fightback was hampered by a 5 on 3 kill mid-period, as Sam Ruopp (abuse of an official) followed David Goodwin (interference) to the box. As the Blaze rallied in the zone, Mitch Cook pounced on a rebound to hand Coventry a 3-goal cushion at 30:31. (4-1)
The Giants were frustrated by confident goaltending from Paavo Holsa in the Blaze crease, as the Finnish stopper dealt with wave after wave of attack. However, Adam Keefe’s side were handed a lifeline in the form of a Ciaran Long one timer from distance with just 11 seconds left in the period. (4-2)
Chad Butcher wasted absolutely no time on the power play, striking the Giants to within a goal after just 6 seconds of Tanner Lishchynsky’s hooking call at 42:36. (4-3)
And just 24 seconds later it was a tied game when David Goodwin struck from close range, compelling Blaze head coach Danny Stewart to call a time out to settle his lines. (4-4)
Coventry did rally after the restart, calling Jackson Whistle into action with an athletic double save as they swarmed the zone. However, the hosts were undone by their own penalty troubles as Jack Billings (slashing, 47:37), Alex Kuqali (hooking, 51:54) and finally Ross Venus (slashing, 55:09) followed each other to the penalty box.
It was Colby McAuley who struck from the right on the last second of Venus’s penalty to hand Belfast the lead for the first time in the game at 57:09 and overturn a 4-1 deficit. (4-5)
There were desperate scenes in the final seconds as Holsa headed for the bench in favour of the extra Blaze skater, but the Giants resilience saw them through to a character comeback on the road, and a four-point weekend.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants take to the road next weekend, travelling to the Cardiff Devils on Friday 21st October and Guildford Flames on Saturday 22nd. The Giants return to The SSE Arena, Belfast on Wednesday 26th October for a midweek league encounter with the Dundee Stars. Tickets are on sale HERE!