Matt Ginn’s side emerged eventual 5-2 winners at The SSE Arena, Belfast, in a chippy, physical game: the first of this weekend’s double header.
Belfast’s forecheck was ferocious on an early power play as Jesper Orvhall sat for slashing after just 24 seconds, most notably Colby McAuley who set about crushing bodies against the glass behind recently acquired Storm goalie Jeremy Brodeur, but it was the visitors on the board first as Ryan Barrow found space at the opposite end to convert at 5:02. (0-1)
Ben Lake’s interference call at 7:49 was turned away by an energetic Giants kill unit, and again at 15:57 when Jeff Baum was handed a tripping penalty, but the Storm were effective at limiting Belfast’s chances in front of goal.
Despite a strong start to the second period for the Storm, Ben Lake directed Steve Owre’s shot home at 21:09 to tie the game- triggering an avalanche of teddy bears from the stands for distribution around local hospitals over the Christmas period. (1-1)
The potential momentum killer of a teddy bear toss delay didn’t appear to phase the Giants, as Lewis Hook squared a puck from the right circle to Will Cullen at the back door at 25:13 for the go-ahead goal. (2-1)
There were strong calls on and off the ice for a 5 on 3 power play with Jake Bricknell already in the box for hooking at 28:06, as an apparent trip in front of Giants goalie Jackson Whistle went undetected by the referees. The capacity crowd was incensed, then, when Scott Simmonds tied it up short handed at the other end with a sublime finish at 29:12. (2-2)
Jesper Orvhall’s puck from the left was chipped home from the edge of the crease by Simmonds for his second of the game at 34:21, as Manchester retook the lead on a Gabe Bast high sticking power play. (2-3)
Things went from bad to worse for the Giants when Jesper Ohrvall battled his way down the slot at 37:35, sending the visitors in at the break with a 2-goal cushion. (2-4)
Manchester’s Zach Sullivan was helped down the tunnel following a monstrous hit from Colby McAuley behind Brodeur’s goal early in the period.
The Giants comeback efforts were hampered by a Mark Cooper cross checking penalty at 42:48, before a power play opportunity came and went with an Anthony DeLuca interference call at 48:23.
Darik Angeli looked to have edged one back mid period, but an early whistle from the referee saw it washed off, as tensions began to spill over on the ice and in the stands.
The same Darik Angeli was assessed 2 + 10 + game for abuse of an official after a Michael Korol high sticking penalty sent Belfast onto a late power play, with Adam Keefe pulling Jackson Whistle to ice the extra skater to make it 6 on 4 inside the last two minutes.
The game was over when Tyson Fawcett sent the puck long into the empty net at 58:55. (2-5)
We do it all over again tomorrow as the Stena Line Belfast Giants take on the Manchester Storm at The SSE Arena, Belfast at 4:00pm. Tickets are on sale HERE!