The Manchester Storm arrived in Belfast off the back of a 7-1 defeat to the Cardiff Devils and started extremely well against the Belfast Giants.
Rather than sit back, frustrate, and look for their breakaway opportunities, the Storm took the game to Belfast and Jackson Whistle in goal.
The Giants weathered an early 5 on 3 penalty kill as Scott Conway sat for hooking (9:24) and Griffin Reinhart for slashing (10:25).
When Scott Simmonds sat for hooking at 13:57, Belfast’s top line got to work. Beautiful interplay by JJ Piccinich and Mark Cooper set up David Goodwin for a wristed finish past Bacashihua at 15:00, before JJ Piccinich doubled Belfast’s tally at 17:33 (Assist: David Goodwin, Sam Ruopp). (1-0 / 2-0)
The Giants continued to grow into the game early in the second period but were severely hampered by the penalty box.
An avoidable too many men call at 27:11 (served by Ciaran Long) was followed by a 5 minute major game cross checking penalty on Sam Ruopp, as the defencemen battled for possession in the Giants zone.
Belfast turned away the 5 on 3 bravely, but Whistle was eventually beaten by Frankie Melton on the power play at 28:09 to bring the Storm to within a goal (Assist: Adam Brady). (2-1)
Scott Conway’s finish at 37:24 was a strong contender for EIHL goal of the week as David Goodwin set the forward up in the slot for a rocket of a shot into the roof of Bacashihua’s net. (3-1)
Manchester responded just 20 seconds later as Scott Simmonds broke away over the blue line and sniped Whistle to restore the one goal margin unassisted. (3-2)
The sides exchanged power plays early in the third as Scott Conway sat for high sticking at 40:49, and the Storm’s Tayler Thompson took a high sticking call of his own at 45:08.
Once again, the Belfast Giants restored their two-goal cushion when Scott Conway fired home at the back door at 49:07 (Assist: Ciaran Long, JJ Piccinich) only for it to get cut back down to one by Manchester seconds later, this time courtesy of Cam Critchlow at 49:38 (Assist: Dallas Erhardt, Tyson Fawcett). (4-2 / 4-3)
Scott Conway returned to the box for hooking at 51:06, a penalty which Belfast killed off before (yet again) restoring their two-goal lead at 54:26 when Piccinich struck again (Assist: Scott Conway). (5-3)
Kevin Raine’s delay of game penalty at 58:38 was followed by a Storm time out, as Bacashihua headed for the bench and the Giants faced closing the game out on the 6 on 4 kill for the second night in a row.
After an earlier miss, Mark Cooper made amends by finishing an insurance goal into the empty net, unassisted, at 59:52. (6-3)
The Stena Line Belfast Giants face the Guildford Flames in a triple header next weekend, with Friday 4th March and Saturday 5th March’s games taking place at the SSE Arena, Belfast. Tickets are on sale HERE!