The Stena Line Belfast Giants made a statement on Friday night in Belfast, picking up a commanding 6-2 win over the league-leading Sheffield Steelers. Goals from Liam Reddox (x2), Ben Lake, Patrick Mullen, Brian Ward, and Ryan Lowney along with a 36-save showing from Shane Owen led the Giants to a huge victory. Both teams return to action on Saturday, face-off 7pm at The SSE Arena, Belfast.
Friday’s win on ‘Retro Night’, as the organisation celebrates their 20th anniversary, sees the Giants now move into second place with 26 points from 21 games, two points behind the Sheffield Steelers in first place with 28 points from 24 games.
It didn’t take the home side long to get things rolling. Just 22 seconds into the game, Liam Reddox took a pass from Ryan Lowney at the top of the left circle and sniped a shot top corner over Steelers’ goaltender Tomas Duba’s glove. The goal was the third of the year in league play for Reddox.
The Giants proved throughout the period to have a lethal penalty kill. After killing off two penalties earlier in the period, they extended their lead to 2-0 with a short-handed goal at 15:15. Patrick Mullen carried the puck into the zone and dangled around multiple Steelers to kill time. Lewis Hook then got the puck, wrapped around the net, passed it off to the point for Mark Garside, who would fire a clapper that Brian Ward deflected past Duba, giving the Giants a two-goal lead.
Belfast would skate into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead after a hard-fought 20 minutes of play. The first was defined by speed and hard work from the Giants, who managed to throw a hit at just about every opportunity possible to set the tempo.
The Giants came flying out of the gate and would extend their lead to 3-0 at 24:15. Patrick Mullen picked the puck up behind the net and went coast-to-coast, pulling off a dangle at centre ice before ripping a snap-shot five-hole on Duba from the high slot. The goal, which came unassisted, was Mullen’s third of the year in league play.
The onslaught wouldn’t stop there. Two minutes after scoring his wild end-to-end goal, Mullen worked the puck in deep to Brian Ward who then found Liam Reddox in the slot for a quick one-time snap past Duba. A few minutes after that, with the Giants on the power-play, Ben Lake picked up the puck at the side of the net and buried a shot past a sprawling Duba to extend the lead to 5-0.
An energetic and determined Belfast squad completely carried play through 40 minutes of action. They skated into the second intermission with a commanding 5-0 lead and outshot the Steelers by a whopping 28-15.
Keeping The Foot On The Gas
The Steelers would add a couple of goals in the first half of the third period to make it a game. Brendan Connolly spoiled Shane Owen’s shutout at 45:04, and then, at 46:46, Nikolai Lemtyugov buried a puck in the case to make the score 5-2.
It didn’t take long for the Giants to respond. With the team on the power-play, Lia Morgan fed the puck from behind the net to Ryan Lowney, who was streaking in from the point. Lowney picked up the pass and roofed a snip over top of Duba’s shoulder to make the score 6-2. The goal was Lowney’s first of the season in league play.
Despite carrying a 6-2 lead in the final 10 minutes of the game, the Giants kept their foot on the gas, creating chances of their own to ensure the Steelers couldn’t sneak their way back into the game.
The Giants will be back again on Saturday night at SSE Arena for the second leg of the back-to-back with the Steelers. After that, they’ll host the Cardiff Devils for the first leg of the Challenge Cup quarter-final on