There was late drama as a Devils power play equaliser in the dying minutes was waved off for goalie interference on Tyler Beskorowany, after a lengthy review.
There was a big game atmosphere in the SSE Arena on Friday night as a bumper crowd filed through the doors for a meeting of two Premier Sports Elite League heavyweights on EIHL Pride Night.
The Belfast Giants came into their showdown with the Cardiff Devils unbeaten in their last ten league games, but the visitors had been quietly putting together a run of their own- having won their last seven in a row.
The Devils passing and movement throughout the first was crisp, and they brushed off a Brendan Mikkelson delay of game call at 5:57 with ease as Belfast struggled to set up in the zone.
There was a heart stopping moment with six minutes left, as Cole Sandford forced a turnover in front of the Giants crease off a bad Sam Ruopp pass. Jake Coughler’s shot was turned away by Belfast goaltender Tyler Beskorowany for a critical early stop.
A pair of two minute penalties on Belfast’s Jordan Boucher (19:35) and Cardiff’s Brodie Reid (slashing) were handed out at 19:35, leaving 1:35 of 4 on 4 on the clock to open the second period.
Tyler Beskorowany was once again the hero as Scott Conway sat for hooking at 23:10, along with the help of an utterly committed penalty kill unit who weathered almost two minutes of consistent zone time.
Cardiff’s Justin Crandall was called for hooking at 28:51, but Belfast could not convert as the physicality of the game intensified and the stands responded with thunderous noise.
It spilled over at 30:54 with a pile-on in front of, or on top of, Devils goalie Mac Carruth. Roughing calls were handed out to Cardiff’s Trevor Cox and Justin Crandall, and Belfast’s Ben Lake, handing the hosts the power play.
With the atmosphere at fever pitch, the Belfast Giants found their way through when Jordan Boucher lasered a pass to Tyler Soy who broke the deadlock at 38:55. (1-0)
The Giants faced 1:28 on the kill to open the final period, as Scott Conway was called for slashing. As the buzzer sounded, another scuffle was broken up in front of Beskorowany.
The ruckus at the end of the second period saw Cardiff’s Sam Duggan (cross checking) and Belfast’s Sam Ruopp (roughing) take a seat to open the final period.
It may not have shown on the scoreboard, but as the sides continued to trade blows under an electrified atmosphere, there was nobody in doubt that an absolute classic was unfolding at the SSE.
Belfast were caught out on the change at 47:29, as Mark Garside served the bench minor for too many men. The Devils swarmed, striking Beskorowany’s left post with 11:35 left in the game.
If the game was on a knife edge before, there are no words for what was to follow. JJ Piccinich’s tripping call at 57:50 triggered a Devils time out and they iced the extra skater for 6 on 4.
Cardiff’s Matt Register thought he had sent it to overtime mid-way through the power play but following a lengthy review from the referees it was waved off for goalie interference. The roar from the stands rivalled the noise when Tyler Soy had made it 1-0 in the second period.
The Giants still had a job to do, with 1:13 of penalty kill left and 1:23 on the clock. What unfolded was heroic defending, backstopped by an inspired Beskorowany. As the final buzzer sounded, the Teal Army blew the roof off.
The Belfast Giants head to Manchester for an upcoming away game, but their next home ice action will be on January 29th as the Coventry Blaze visit in Elite League Action. Tickets are on sale HERE!