Giants Storm to Four-Point Weekend with Win in Manchester
The Stena Line Belfast Giants made it a four-point weekend and took another step towards defending their Viaplay Elite League title with a 4-1 win over the Manchester Storm at Planet Ice Altrincham.
Goals from David Gilbert, Mark Cooper, player of the game Josh Roach and Henrik Eriksson and 29 saves from Tyler Beskorowany earned Adam Keefe's men the win, which sees them maintain their lead at the top of the standings with just six games remaining.
The Giants got off to the perfect start just 1:07 in when a brilliant stretch pass from Sam Ruopp hit Gilbert streaking into the offensive zone and he beat Jeremy Brodeur with the perfect backhand shot. (0-1)
Beskorowany produced a couple of big saves to deny Anthony DeLuca and Cole Carter before Belfast went unrewarded on a powerplay when Dallas Ehrhardt was penalised for a trip on Matt McLeod.
Mark Cooper was denied a goal when he put the puck in the net off a rebound but it was ruled out for Brodeur's face mask being off, but he would get his goal at 10:52 when he banked it off the goaltender and in from a sharp angle. (0-2)
The middle frame started on a high, too, as Roach grabbed the Giants' third at just 22:41 when Mark Cooper fed Will Cullen, who cut inside and passed across for his defensive partner to convert the one-timer. (0-3)
Despite their comfortable lead, Beskorowany had to be at his best to make a huge stop to deny Finlay Ulrick seemingly an empty net tap-in to maintain the shut-out as the hosts pressed.
But the next time the puck ended up in the net it was the Giants again who scored as Eriksson and Steve Owre went on the breakaway, with the former providing the finish from the right circle at 27:26. (0-4)
Grant Cooper dropped the gloves with Tyson Fawcett almost straight off the face-off, with the Giants winger serving two minutes for boarding prior to that, while the Storm also went unpunished when Stephen Johnson was penalised for slashing.
DeLuca almost got the Storm on the board early in the third period when he fired wide of the cage with Beskorowany pulled out of position, while at the other end Brodeur was exceptional to deny McLeod one-on-one, then Scott Conway.
But the clean sheet would be ruined at 50:46 by Tyler Barrow, the Storm forward skating onto the rebound in the slot and finally beating Beskorowany for the first time over the course of the weekend. (1-4)
A delay of game penalty on Matt Foley looked to put the Giants under pressure late on, but it was mitigated by a Scott Simmonds high sticking minor, although Beskorowany needed to make one more massive save to deny Carter on the breakaway to wrap up the two points.
The Stena Line Belfast Giants return to home ice next weekend for double-header action against the Cardiff Devils on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th of March in continuation of their Elite Ice Hockey League campaign. Ticket are on sale HERE.